York hockey coach Dan Church guides Canada to championship

Dan Church, the York University Lions women’s hockey head coach, led Team Canada to the gold medal at the International Ice Hockey Federation’s under-18 women’s world hockey championship on Saturday, April 3, in Chicago.

Church, the head coach of the Canadian team, watched his squad record a 5-4 come-from-behind victory over the United States when team captain and tournament MVP Jessica Campbell tipped in Brigette Lacquette’s point shot 3:10 into overtime in the championship final.

Right: Dan Church

“It’s historic for us. It’s our first win at this age group and we worked really hard to improve the skill level,” said Church. “As most Canada-US games are, it was a true test of the rivalry again and I thought both teams performed really, really well.”

The Canadians went a perfect 5-0 at the tournament, recording preliminary wins over Russia, Germany and Sweden before beating the Germans again in the semifinals. Canada outscored its opponents 44-7 and had three shutouts.

In the final, Church felt Campbell’s overtime heroics were reminiscent of Sidney Crosby’s golden goal at the Olympics – also against the US.

“It’s a great comparison, only she wears 8, not 87,” he said, “but Jess is a great leader, we’re really proud because she makes things happen on the ice and she’s such a pillar of strength for us off the ice. I’m really proud of her effort and glad it was rewarded,” said Church.

It was the third straight time Canada and the US have squared off for the women’s under-18 gold medal, with the US winning the first two meetings. The Americans looked headed for victory once again, leading 3-1 after the first period and 4-3 after two.

“We started a little bit nervous, and I said in the first intermission that the game was very manageable,” said Church. “All we had to do is win the next two periods and we’d give ourselves a chance to win the game.”

Jenna McParland tied the game for Canada with just under eight minutes left in regulation.

“We just stuck with it and were able to win the second period and win the third period and gave ourselves a chance to get to overtime,” said Church.

Campbell’s overtime winner gave her seven goals and 15 points in five games, earning her the tournament’s top honours. Lacquette finished second in points with 13 to go along with a plus/minus of plus-15, and was named top defenceman.

Laurie Kingsbury, Christine Bestland and Mélodie Daoust also scored for Canada, which got 37 saves from Carmen MacDonald.

Alexandra Carpenter, Kendall Coyne, Zoe Hickell and Meagan Mangene had goals for the US, while netminder Alex Rigsby stopped 45 shots.

With files from The Canadian Press