As part of an initiative to raise proceeds for Do It for Daron (the charity that honors the daughter of former Ottawa PWHL head coach Luke Richardson and the sister of former Provincial Women's Hockey League player Morgan Richardson), Bell Sensplex played host to more than 500 enthusiastic fans for a game between the Nepean Wildcats and Ottawa PWHL Senators. The teams renewed their rivalry while helping pay tribute to the great efforts of DIFD in the community.
The president of the Ontario Women’s Hockey Association, Fran Rider, and Stephanie Richardson (the mother of Daron and Morgan) participated in the ceremonial faceoff. Many Ottawa PWHL alumni (including current NCAA stars Jamie Lee Rattray, Amanda Leveille and Jenna Hendrikx) were also on the ice for the faceoff.
With many players from Nepean and Ottawa having played with Morgan during the 2011-12 PWHL season, emotions ran high, as both teams played to honor the memory of Daron (who was a one-time teammate to many players).
Both teams had the Do It for Daron purple-heart logo on their jerseys and helmets. In addition, both teams had purple stripes on their shorts, while some players adorned their uniform with purple socks as well because purple was Daron’s favorite color.
The first period saw a lot of back-and-forth action. Both teams skated hard, but the scoring opportunities were nonexistent early in the period.
The first power play belonged to Nepean as alternate captain Connor Galway served a penalty with 10:28 left in the first frame. Alyssa Baker of Nepean released a slap shot that Myf Thomson tried to tap into the net, but she was denied by Senators backstop Sarah McGall.
While Ottawa had its own power play with 7:26 remaining, the team was not able to capitalize. Wildcats Dallis Ferguson and Samantha Cogan played very tough in the corners.
The best scoring opportunity of the period belonged to Wildcats alternate captain Lauren Miller, but McGall made a lightning-quick glove save to keep the game a scoreless tie. Despite another Nepean power play (with 1:07 remaining), the Wildcats were unable to solve McGall.
After one period, Nepean had a significant advantage in shots by a 10-3 mark.
The second stanza found the Wildcats open the scoring. With less than two minutes, Nepean took a 1-0 lead as the Sensplex crowd erupted.
Throughout the period, both teams would encounter penalty troubles. With 11:24 left on the clock, Ottawa had its first power play of the period. Unfortunately, Ottawa would be called for goalie interference 56 seconds later.
Katryne Villeneuve tried to add to the lead but was denied by McGall. She would continue to maintain her composure as Cogan tried to score as well. After the initial shot, McGall was on her stomach and still managed to block the rebound with her stick. Despite her perseverance, Cogan was denied the opportunity to extend the lead.
As Nepean worked hard to protect its lead, the play became more physical.
Taylor Thurston, the Wildcats alternate captain, blocked a shot. Senators forward Erin Sauve would bump into Lauren Miller and knock her down. Wildcats captain Cassidy Campeau and Ottawa’s Kayla Carter would struggle for the puck in the corner. Carter would later tussle with Nepean’s Meghan Brennan in the corners also.
With Miller being called for cross-checking (with 7:40 remaining), Ottawa had another power play. Wildcats backstop Makayla Campbell was up to the challenge. Senators forward Samantha Morell released a very hard slap shot, but Campbell displayed sharp reflexes and blocked the puck with her shoulder.
Scoring opportunities began to develop in the period, but both goalies proved game. Nepean’s Josiane Pozzebon made a remarkable no-look pass in heavy traffic, but McGall was quick to react. Senators captain Katelyn Fournier went on a breakaway but was denied by Campbell.
McGall would find herself tested again as a blocked shot started the Wildcats' scoring opportunities. A shot by Senators defender Erica McCarney was blocked by Addi Halladay, and the puck went to the other end of the ice. A flurry of Wildcats peppered McGall with shots.
Despite the Wildcats' best efforts, McGall was a key factor in keeping the Senators competitive.
Near the end of the period, Ottawa continued to attempt to tie the game. Alternate captain Rebecca Leslie was on a breakaway but was denied by Campbell. Meghan Carty, another alternate captain, shot on Campbell, but it yielded a negative result.
Kayla Carter then helped give Ottawa another scoring opportunity.
After she stripped the puck from a Nepean player in the Ottawa defensive zone, the Senators quickly went on the offensive. Despite the stellar play from Carter, Ottawa went into the intermission facing a 1-0 deficit.
Like the first period, the third saw a lot of back-and-forth action. As both teams struggled to add to the scoresheet, the players exerted a remarkable effort. Carter played very hard and in trying to retrieve the puck crashed into the boards.
One scoring opportunity developed with 12:38 left in the period. A mad scramble developed in the Nepean end, and the puck bounced high in the air. It nearly bounced into the Nepean net but narrowly missed. Had an Ottawa player been by the post, it would have been an easy goal to tap in.
Less than two minutes later, Ottawa’s hard work paid off. Stationed behind the net, Morell passed in front of the Nepean net. Several players whacked at it, and the puck beat Campbell to tie the game.
The momentum began to shift as Ottawa started to play with more confidence. Ottawa’s Amanda Titus would go on a breakaway. Although she was shadowed by Nepean’s Alison MacKenzie, she managed a backhand shot on Campbell. From there, Ottawa would grab the puck and start on the offensive.
Right near the Senators bench, Meghan Brennan released a slap shot that floated by McGall. With assists going to Pozzebon and Thomson, Nepean reclaimed the lead.
Ottawa showed resiliency as Fournier tried to create a scoring opportunity. Despite heavy traffic, she managed to center a pass in front of the Nepean net, but no Senators player could capitalize.
With 7:29 left, Nepean’s MacKenzie would serve a penalty. Despite the advantage, Ottawa’s aggressive play nullified the opportunity. Nepean’s Thomson would crash to the ice, and Ottawa’s Erica McCarney would be called for charging at 6:37.
Despite both teams at even strength, Nepean would get into penalty trouble a mere 25 seconds later.
As Ottawa now had a 4-on-3 advantage, Nepean played with the intention of protecting the lead. Dallis Ferguson would dump the puck down the ice as Ottawa’s momentum vanished. Mackenzie Stone of Nepean would try to add to the lead, but McGall was up to the challenge.
Fournier, the Senators captain, would serve a hooking penalty at 3:57 as Ottawa’s attempts to tie the game were quickly evaporating. McGall would be tested during the Nepean power play as she faced another hard shot by Meghan Brennan.
McGall would face two consecutive shots, but Pozzebon would prove the third time is the charm as she beat McGall for the third score of the evening.
With less than two minutes in the period, Brennan would serve a penalty for Nepean. Once again, the power-play opportunity was nullified as McCarney was called on a penalty.
With 8.5 seconds left, a faceoff in the Nepean defensive zone showed that the one-goal lead was hardly safe.
A faceoff between Samantha Cogan and Ottawa’s Hannah Driver was won by Driver. A hard shot by Ottawa in a crowded crease resulted in another mad scramble for the puck, but Campbell was quick to cover the puck with her glove to preserve the lead and the win.
Although Ottawa showed tenacity in the dying seconds of the period, Campbell was in a zone and would not give Ottawa the opportunity to get back into the game.
Penalty troubles diminished many opportunities for a hardworking Senators team. Although Nepean outshot Ottawa 34-13, both teams worked hard in a game meant to honor and recognize a fallen friend and teammate from the community.