For the first time in program history, the University of Guelph Gryphons are national women’s hockey champions.
In a back-and-forth affair Sunday, fifth-year Valerie Lamenta pitched a 1-0 shutout win over the McGill University Martlets to win the national title.
“Best feeling in the whole wide world, it’s what I’ve been waiting for my whole five years,” Lamenta told U Sports post-game.
“I don’t have words right now, I’m sorry.”
After a quiet and slow first period, things opened up in the second.
Guelph and McGill battled back and forth trading chances but neither team seemed ready to take over the game.
This was until Christiana Colizza gave McGill some energy. She picked up a loose puck, circled low down around the net, burst out in front and rifled a shot on goal. Lamenta got her shoulder on it to keep it out and Guelph came right back down the ice with a chance of its own.
Miranda Lantz streaked through the slot toward the right faceoff dot and picked up the puck. McGill defenders scrambled to reach her and her shot went just wide of the goal.
Then, after McGill had another chance a scrum ensued. In the fracas, Jade Downie-Landry of the Martlets was cross-checked across the face by a Guelph player in the crease and no call was made.
The decision by the officials proved fruitful for Guelph, as the club came right back down the ice on the next sequence to score.
Claire Merrick gained the zone, pulled a nice move to gain inside position and tore through the slot toward the left corner. On her way through she dropped a pass to Kaitlin Lowy, who ripped a shot low-blocker on Tricia Deguire for the 1-0 Gryphons lead heading into the second intermission.
From there, Lamenta kept the Marlets in check, making save after save to keep her club ahead.
Then in the final minute of the game, with the national title on the line, Kellyane Lecours tried to will her team even.
First, with the net empty, she hammered a shot from the hashmarks and was stopped by Lamenta. Then, after a Gryphons shot went wild and flew through the air, she knocked it out of mid-air toward the goal.
Again though Lamenta kept it out, and moments later the Guelph netminder was mobbed by her teammates in celebration.