Appearing in their seventh consecutive gold medal game at the 2023 Winter Universiade, a tournament record, Canada's hockey women finished with an undefeated record. Besting Japan by a 5-0 mark in the final game, contested at Herb Brooks Arena in Lake Placid, N.Y., the team representing the red and white established another historic feat.
Led by team captain Emmy Fecteau, a member of the 2022 U SPORTS national champions, the Concordia Stingers, Canada became the first nation to reach the plateau of four women's ice hockey gold medals in tournament play. Outscoring their opponents in Lake Placid by a phenomenal 31-2 margin, Canada was only behind in one period of play.
Defeating Slovakia by a 6-1 mark in semifinals, overcoming a 1-0 deficit in the first, six different skaters scored for Canada. Worth noting, Waterloo Warriors forward Leah Herrfort was credited with the game-winning tally, while Kendra Woodland, who back stopped the University of New Brunswick Reds to a conference title last season, made 21 saves.
Japan qualified for the gold medal game with a 3-0 shutout win versus Czech Republic, as Miyuu Masahara required only 14 saves. Versus Canada, Masahara logged 15 saves in the first period alone. Her valiant efforts involved nullifying a pair of Canadian powerplays, keeping high-flying offence off the scoresheet, while recording her fifth straight period without a goal in tournament play. The second period resulted in Canada shattering her shutout streak. Highlighted by a four-goal outburst, Audrey-Ann Veillette, a forward for the University of Montreal Carabins, scored at the 21:16 mark. After Veillette's goal, Maria Dominico, Canada's leading scorer in the preliminary round, and a 2021 U SPORTS silver medallist, added to the lead. As a side note, she also scored the game-winning goal versus the host United States and in the win versus Slovakia. Alternate captain Celine Frappier, who plays for Team Canada alumna Vicky Sunohara at the University of Toronto, and blueliner Marie-Camille Theoret, earned the assists. With Canada scoring twice in less than five minutes, penalties added to Japan's woes. Alternate captain Kanami Seki was sent to the penalty box for an interference call. With just 38 seconds remaining in her penalty, it was called for cross-checking, providing Canada with a five-on-three advantage. Taking full advantage, Canada quickly enjoyed a three-goal cushion. Maggie Burbidge, the leading scorer in the Atlantic University Sports (AUS) conference, recorded the goal. Worth noting, Madison Willan, also a member of Canada's national women's baseball team, logged the assist.
Following Burbidge's goal, a busy Masahara logged four consecutive saves. With Canada's offence firmly entrenched in the Japanese zone, Frappier enjoyed her second point of the period, scoring at 30:50, victory certainly in reach.
Outshooting Japan by an 8-2 mark in the third period, Canada added another goal at 44:44. McGill blueliner Elizabeth Mura, Canada's leader in plus-minus ranking, recorded the final goal at the Winter Universiade, accentuating a strong tournament showing. Needing only 12 saves, Woodland, an AUS All-Star with the Reds, earned her second straight win, allowing Canada its first gold medal in women's ice hockey at the Winter Universiade since 2013. Frappier and Veillette were the only skaters to have a goal and assist in the game, one that saw nine Canadians record at least one point. Providing the Canadian contingent with their fifth gold medal of the 2023 Winter Universiade, the achievement allowed these wondrous women with a cherished career highlight. Adding to an expanding legacy of Canadian brilliance on the international stage, their collaborative efforts in Lake Placid represented a historic chapter destined to be celebrated.