Capital City Challenge Day 3: Wood, Desbiens Dominate Competition

The third day of the Capital City Challenge offered a different viewing experience, as the two games played were close and intense. It started with Team Red facing off against Team White, where Matthew Wood continued his dominant showing at this tournament. The second game featured a close battle between the Canadian Women’s National Team and Team Black, but Nick Lardis had a two-point showing and helped lead the team to a 4-1 victory.

Ann-Renée Desbiens, who plays for Montreal in the Professional Woman’s Hockey Players Association (PWHPA), was the biggest storyline of the day. She single-handily kept her team in a game that should not have been close, and that was because of her talent and passion.

Let’s take a deeper look into both games and the storylines that ensued.

Team Red Holds On For Victory

This was the first game of the tournament where the score was close, and it reflected in the play on the ice. Both teams had consistent scoring chances, although Team Red created the offense early and capitalized on their opportunities. The main storyline as the match progressed was the number of penalties being taken from both teams, including six leading into the game’s first power-play goal. During the second period, Wood, who plays for the Victoria Grizzlies of the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL), scored on the power play to get the game’s first goal to that point. 

Lukas Dragicevic Team Canada
Lukas Dragicevic, Team Canada (Josh Kim / The Hockey Writers)

Team White struggled with taking penalties during the second period, and Brayden Yager, who plays for the Moose Jaw Warriors in the Western Hockey League (WHL), scored on the 5-on-3 man advantage. He offers a lot of variety with his shot, whether it’s toe dragging and firing a strong wrist shot or firing a one-timer at any area of the net. It’s been quite clear that the Yager and Wood connection has been on display so far, and that didn’t stop when the third period began.

After Team White’s Dylan MacKinnon took a boarding penalty, Wood released a powerful shot from the half wall to make it 3-0 for Team Red, and it appeared that the game was settled. However, that was not the case as the match ensued, and Tyler Peddle, who plays the Drummondville Voltigeurs in the QMJHL, scored off an excellent passing play to get Team White on the board. Andrew Cristall, who plays for the Kelowna Rockets in the WHL, scored another to make it a one-goal game, but it wouldn’t be enough, and Team Red won the matchup by 4-2.

Related: Capital City Challenge Day 2: Wood, Nadeau Display Impressive Showings

“I was not expecting to be named captain. It is great news for me, and I have always tried to be a leader on any team I have played for. I am doing a great job of being a leader in this short tournament, but it is an amazing feeling. I am a friendly guy, and in the room, I like to talk to everyone and make new friends. I think it is part of my responsibility to connect with everyone on our team.”

On Saturday, Team Red announced that their captain was Émile Perron, and he provided insight on what it means to take that leadership position after the game.

It has been the closest game in this tournament so far and could potentially stay that way.

Team Black Wins Second Game In A Row

There was a different feeling when watching this game compared to the other matches that featured the Canadian National Women’s Team. They had their entire lineup, minus Sarah Nurse, who has yet to play in a game so far. Team Black was considered a favorite to win the gold medal heading into this matchup, but the results have changed some minds. Let’s take a look at the great storylines from the evening game. 

Team Black Celebrates
Team Black Celebrates (Josh Kim / The Hockey Writers)

The game remained scoreless until Lardis, who plays for the Peterborough Petes in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL), scored with 33 seconds remaining in the first period. After the first intermission, both teams continued to generate scoring chances; however, Team Black was firing as many shots as possible. After failing to score on the power-play, Ty Halaburda, who plays for the Vancouver Giants in the WHL, scored to make it 2-0, and it stayed that way after two periods.

The third period offered a feeling of hope for the Canadian National Women’s Team, as Brianne Jenner scored to cut the lead in half. Playing for Toronto in the PWHPA, she finished off a great feed from Marie-Philip Poulin, and there was a feeling that this game was close. Ultimately, Team White held on to secure the 4-1 win and took home their first victory of the tournament.

Team Black was generating scoring chances, but Desbiens almost always had an answer and was very positionally sound around her crease. She made 52 saves on 56 shots, which is a tournament-high so far through three days, and she gave some insight into what this performance meant to her compared to the rest of her career.

“Every game we play is very different, but any time you have the opportunity to play against high-level competition, you just try your best and try to give your team an opportunity to win. I think that is what I did today. I would not necessarily say it was the best performance of my career, but I had a lot of fun out there, and it was a big challenge.”

There is only a single game being played tonight, as Team White is back in action against Team Black at 7 PM ET. This will also be the final day of preliminary games being played before the semi-finals.

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