Team Alberta finishes fourth at National Women’s U18 Championship

Image: Team Alberta player Molly Hamilton (left) fist bumps Team Alberta Goaltender Alyssa Barrette (right) after a goal

RED DEER – Team Alberta’s U18 Female squad had a strong showing at the National Women’s U18 Championship November 5-11 in Dawson Creek, B.C., but fell just short of reaching the podium after a 3-1 loss to Team British Columbia in the bronze medal game.

Team Alberta overcame some early tournament adversity – losing their tournament opener, 4-1, to the eventual silver medalists from Quebec – to be one of the final four teams standing.

After the opening day loss, Team Alberta defeated Team Atlantic 6-3, thanks to two-point efforts from Keira Grant (Dunmore), Rylee McLeod (Grande Prairie) and Makayla Watson (Rocky View County). Taya Christie (Medicine Hat) made 28 saves in goal.

Team Alberta then clinched second place in Group B and a quarter-final berth, with a win in their final preliminary round game over Team Saskatchewan. Jordan Blouin (Calgary) scored Alberta’s only goal late in the second period and Christie kicked aside 28 shots for her first shutout of the tournament.

The win over Saskatchewan placed Alberta in the quarterfinals against Team Ontario Blue (1-1-1), who finished third in Group A. Alberta once again rode the hot hand of their goaltending, as Alyssa Barrette (Calgary) earned her first win and shutout of the tournament with 29 saves in a 1-0 victory. April Klarenbach (Cochrane) scored the only goal of the contest after she showed a great burst of speed, split the defence and beat the Ontario Blue goaltender with a forehand, backhand deke to punch Alberta’s ticket to the semi-finals.

In the semis, Alberta lost 4-0 to the eventual tournament champion Ontario Red. Ontario Red scored two goals in the first, one in the second and one in the third to push their way into the gold medal match. Alyssa Barrette made 22 saves in the loss.

The semi-final loss put Alberta in the bronze medal game against British Columbia. Claire Carruthers (Crossfield) potted her second goal of the tournament and Christie made 26 saves in the loss.

Even though the result was disappointing, Team Alberta defenceman Jayde Sansregret (Red Deer) said the U18 tournament was a great way to match herself up against the best players from across the country.

“It’s a great compete level,” Sansregret said. “It pushes you to your limits and it’s really great hockey and great competition to play against.”

McLeod and Watson led Alberta’s scoring with three points each in six games. Grant and Raedyn Spademan (Cochrane) each had two points. Christie and Barrette shared the net throughout the tournament, each appearing in three games. Christie finished with a 2.03 goals-against-average, a .932 save percentage and one shutout. Barrette ended the tournament with a 2.67 goals-against-average, a .904 save percentage and one shutout.