Heading into the Provincial Women’s Hockey League holiday break, the second ranked Whitby Wolves ended their first half in a road match with the Nepean Wildcats. Contested at the Carleton Ice House in Ottawa, Ontario, it would be Nepean that would grab the early lead.
Lindsay Eastwood intercepted a pass for Nepean and the momentum began to shift in their favor. After alternate captain Addi Halladay deked through two Whitby defenders, she passed to Katryne Villeneuve who buried the puck past Hannah Baker to give Nepean the 1-0 advantage.
Whitby would regroup to even things up with 12:57 left in the opening frame. Defender CJ Tipping took the shot and alternate captain Nicole Martindale tipped it in past Kayla Thompson. Thirteen seconds later, Wildcats alternate captain Lauren Miller would be called for boarding, as Whitby enjoyed a power play chance.
Alex Moore (who left after the game with Hanna Bunton to take a flight to Finland to compete with Canada at the IIHF U18 Women’s Worlds) streaked up the ice and from behind Nepean’s net made a sharp pass to Marie-Pierre Pelissou. Although she could not give Whitby the lead, Martindale would give it another try. She released a slapshot which Nepean defender Lindsay Eastwood blocked with her shoulder.
Thompson would find herself tested again by Martindale later in the period. With Dallis Ferguson serving a penalty for Nepean, Martindale and Hailey Noronha both shot on her. After Noronha’s shot, Thompson was flat on her stomach but managed to stop a bouncing puck. Tipping would release a shot while she was on her knees (with two Nepean defenders shadowing her) and Thompson blocked it. Her poise between the pipes kept Nepean competitive against such a top ranked team.
On the offensive side, Halladay was a key factor for Nepean as she was the catalyst for making things happen. Whitby players struggled to get the puck past her, and many endured difficulties even skating around her.
As the period progressed, the contest became more physical. After Cassidy Vinkle knocked down Josiane Pozzebon, there was no penalty. Eastwood retaliated by knocking down Whitby’s Alex Moore.
With 7:08 left in the period, Samantha Cogan intercepted a Whitby pass and went top shelf to give Nepean a 2-1 lead. After the goal, Nepean captain Cassidy Campeau intercepted a pass from Martindale and tried to add to the lead. A few seconds later, Taylor Thurston had the puck behind Whitby’s net, but her pass was missed by Villeneuve.
Before the period would end, Whitby would manage to tie the game. Alex Moore would grab a rebound and put a backhand past Thompson (earlier in the period, she fell and still managed a backhand shot against Thompson) to tie the score with 40.3 seconds left.
Heading into the second stanza, the physicality would continue. Nepean’s Meghan Brennan knocked down Hanna Bunton from behind with no penalty called. She would knock her down from behind once more, but was called for it. With a Whitby power play, Bunton tried to exact a measure of revenge by releasing a hard shot on Thompson. Cassie Sharp of Nepean would block it before it could reach the net.
Although Nepean successfully killed the penalty, it would not take long before there were penalty problems. Villeneuve and Hailey Noronha of Whitby would shove near the Nepean net. As Noronha was sent to the penalty box, Whitby worked hard to ensure that Nepean would not take back the lead.
While Hannah Baker denied Nepean’s Myf Thomson on the penalty kill, Nepean’s luck would improve. With less than four minutes remaining, Samantha Cogan buried the puck past Baker to give Nepean the lead once again. With 3:13 remaining, Nepean would score again as team captain Cassidy Campeau released a slapshot.
As Whitby tried to turn the tide, Lindsay Eastwood was like a stone wall and anyone that got near her fell to the ice. With mad scrambles in the corners for the puck, Taylor Thurston would contribute by blocking a shot by Noronha. With 1:00 left, Lauren Miller also blocked a Whitby shot but the rebound went to captain Krista Yip-Chuck who scored.
With 30.5 seconds left in the frame, Nepean was called for a penalty. Despite holding on to a 4-3 lead, Nepean nearly allowed a power play goal. Hailey Noronha had an open net but she tripped, as the Wildcats dodged a bullet.
Entering the third period, Whitby held an 18-16 advantage in shots. The period opened with Samantha Cogan in the penalty box as Whitby was eager to capitalize on their power play opportunity. Although Moore grabbed the puck from Nepean captain Campeau in the corners, she could not score. Lindsey Brazill of Whitby would also try to score but Thompson wanted to protect Nepean’s lead.
After some back and forth, Mackenzie Stone of Nepean stripped the puck from a Nepean skater. She would fire a crisp pass to Campeau who would score at close range for her second score in the contest. With a 5-3 lead, the contest seemed out of reach for Whitby.
With Alex Moore and Meghan Brennan colliding into each other and crashing into the boards, Nicole Martindale passed the puck to rookie forward Rhyen McGill who shot over the crossbar. Yip-Chuck would also intercept a Nepean pass as Whitby refused to give up.
Another Whitby rookie, Kristen Welsh would weave through Nepean traffic and also shoot over the crossbar. Despite the 5-3 lead, Nepean struggled to maintain the momentum.
As a power play opportunity presented itself to Whitby with 2:46 left, the Wolves would capitalize. The squad had top scorers Moore, Bunton, Yip-Chuck and Martindale on the ice. Hailey Noronha would release a slapshot that Martindale tipped in with 2:23 remaining on the clock to pull Whitby to within one goal.
The resiliency on the part of Whitby would benefit them. With Bunton, Moore and Yip-Chuck on a line together, they would create a lot of action in Nepean’s defensive zone. Whitby aggressively worked to tie the score. With 24.6 seconds remaining, Yip-Chuck would take a pass from the corner and bury it past Thompson to tie the game.
In fighting back from a 5-3 deficit, Whitby looked to win the game in overtime. Alex Moore won the first faceoff in overtime to give Whitby the momentum. Bunton was another factor in the overtime frame as she would display great puck control. She would weave through traffic and fire a shot at Thompson that bounced out of her glove. Nepean did not have many opportunities to score.
While players like Dallis Ferguson and Taylor Thurston managed to strip the puck from Whitby skaters, the Wolves defense was up to the challenge. In the dying seconds, there was a faceoff in Whitby’s defensive zone. If Nepean won the faceoff, it would give them their best opportunity to score. Once again, Yip-Chuck provided the heroics as she won the faceoff, and Whitby maintained puck possession until the end of the overtime frame. Thompson worked hard to preserve the tie by resisting the constant pressure from Bunton and other Whitby skaters. The Wolves would outshoot the Wildcats by a 29-24 mark.
“I do not believe that we played well in the first and second periods,” said Wolves defender Hailey Noronha. “We just wanted to end the game with a bang. We came back, we tied it and we were proud. We did not show up in the first or the second, but a tie is good. It is a nice end to the first half of the season."
“It was a great game,” said Wildcats captain Cassidy Campeau. “In the first two periods, we dominated. The few mistakes we made, they capitalized on them. We came out with a tie, and got a point out of it. Whitby is a great team, and to have tied them was great.”
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”