Mount Royal Cougars cinderella way into women’s national hockey final

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The Cinderella run continues for the Mount Royal Cougars’ women’s hockey squad in pursuit of national glory.

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Kaitlyn Ross made 22 saves to lead the No. 8-seeded Mount Royal Cougars to a 3-1 win over the No. 5 Montréal Carabins in the first championship semifinal of the 2023 U SPORTS Women’s Hockey Championship at CEPSUM Aréna in Montréal on Saturday evening.

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Tensions were high in the opening frame, with neither team able to find the back of the net. Each team had a power-play opportunity, but the goalies combined for 16 saves resulting in a scoreless tie after the first period.

Mount Royal opened the scoring just 1:30 into the second with a power-play goal from Alex Spence. Montréal came back and had the momentum for the rest of the period, but Kaitlyn Ross shut the door for the Cougars. The netminder made two big breakaway saves to preserve a 1-0 Cougars lead after two.

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The No. 3-seeded Cougars upset the No. 2 Brock Badgers 3-2 (25-21, 27-25, 16-25, 19-25, 15-9) in a tightly contested consolation semi-final at the 2023 U SPORTS Women’s Volleyball Championship in War Memorial Gym.

Sydney Scatcherd lifted the Canada West finalists to a 14-8 cushion in the first, but Brock rallied to make it a two-point deficit at 20-18. MRU regained their composure and held on for the set win after a Scatcherd kill off the Badger block. Nyadholi Thokbuom dropped an ace for a 15-9 Cougar advantage in the second before Brock fought back to tie it at 22-22. All knotted up at 25-25, Thokbuom ran around for a kill from the right side and closed out the lengthy set on the same play just moments later. Even at 11-11 in the third, the Badgers rattled off a 6-0 run with Madison Tuck at the service line and carried their momentum to take the set and prolong the match. Brock came out firing and maintained a lead through the fourth set, forcing a fifth and deciding set to extend their season. MRU refocused after falling in consecutive sets and captured the fifth set with an emphatic Thokbuom kill. 

Haley Roe racked up a team-high 16 kills for the Cougars, Thokbuom finished with a well-rounded 13 kills, four aces, and five blocks, and Emma Boyd added nine kills with three blocks and an ace in MRU’s second straight five-set marathon. Sadie Dick had a match-best 19 kills for the Badgers, Grace Pyatt tallied 14 kills, and setter Sara Rohr recorded 57 assists and seven digs in the loss. 

Late Friday night, the No. 6-seeded Manitoba Bisons earned a hard-fought 3-2 (24-26, 25-20, 16-25, 25-22, 15-10) upset victory over the Cougars in quarter-final action at nationals, dropping MRU to the consolation side.

The Cougars move on to the consolation final for a chance to claim fifth place against the RSEQ champion UQAM Citadins at 1 p.m. MT on Sunday at War Memorial Gym.

— Postmedia news services

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