|Jaime Bourbonnais has made a head turning debut with Canada’s senior national women’s team.|
The Mississauga, Ont., product has been part of Canada’s national team system since 2014 going to camps and having played for the under-18 women’s team and the national women’s development team. Due to turning just 20-years-old in September, Bourbonnais thought she might still be too young to be placed on the senior national team.
|Defender Jaime Bourbonnais plays in all situations for Canada.|
The moment things really became surreal was when veteran offensive defender Laura Fortino presented Bourbonnais with her Team Canada jersey and said a glowing speech about her before the start of the 4 Nations Cup.
“I think the biggest moment was having (Laura) Fortino present my jersey to me,” said Bourbonnais. “I’ve played with Team Canada before, but this moment was super special.
“She was kind of my favourite player growing up, so having her present my jersey to me was very surreal.”
|Jaime Bourbonnais stars with Cornell University.|
Bourbonnais started on the ice for Canada, took a regular spot on the power play and was on the ice defending her own zone in the final minute of the third period, when Finland pulled goalie Noora Raty for an extra attacker looking to chip at Canada’s 2-0 edge.
Bourbonnais, who plays for the Cornell University Big Red women’s hockey team in the National Collegiate Athletic Association ranks, picked up her first point of the tournament drawing an assist on Laura Stacey’s empty-net goal to seal victory for Canada with 34.5 seconds to play in the third.
With the win, Canada improves to 2-1 and qualifies for Saturday’s gold medal final against the United States (3-0). That contest is slated for 8 p.m. at the SaskTel Centre.
Finland falls to 1-2 at the tournament with the setback and will play Sweden (0-3) in the bronze medal game. That contest is set for 3 p.m. at the SaskTel Centre.
|Defender Jaime Bourbonnais is sound in the defensive zone.|
“Having such great players on the ice with me gives me a lot of confidence,” said Bourbonnais, whose grandfather, Roger, played for Canada’s senior national men’s hockey team in the 1960s. “I know that if I make a mistake they are going to be there to have my back.
“Having my coach from Cornell back there has also really helped me. He believes in me so much, and I know that he trusts me out there. Having his belief and his support back there has really helped me gain some confidence.”
Team Canada head coach Perry Pearn said Bourbonnais earned the chance to play extensively with the senior national women’s team, and the bench boss was confident the young rearguard would perform well.
|Jaime Bourbonnais controls the point in the offensive zone.|
“We’ve done fairly extensive scouting. From that, we have a pretty good idea what the player is. If Jaime (Bourbonnais) is going to be successful at this level, we’ve got to use her as an offensive player.
“We’ve got to be able to play her in key situations. What better time than at a tournament like this is there to give her that opportunity and to show that kind of faith in her.”
Pearn said Bourbonnais has graded out very high with her performance along with a number of other young players, who are playing on Canada’s senior national team for the first time.
“I think she (Bourbonnais) has been very, very good,” said Pearn. “I think we’re really happy, and not just with Jaime (Bourbonnais), but I think with a lot of our young players who are experiencing the international game for the first time.
|Team Canada celebrates an empty-net goal from Laura Stacey (#7)|
For Bourbonnais, she hopes her time with the senior national team extends far into the future.
“It is a huge honour to be selected to this team,” said Bourbonnais, who had three goals and 21 assists in 31 games with Cornell last season. “Growing up watching these players your whole life, you idolize them.
“You want to be like them, and then you play alongside of them. It is like a dream, honestly. They are all super nice.
“They all took me under their wing right away, so it has been a lot of fun.”
In Friday’s game, Canada got the jump early on Finland scoring 85 seconds into the contest on a goal from Melodie Daoust.
At the 4:55 mark of the opening frame, left-winger Rebecca
Johnston made the score 2-0 in Canada’s favour scoring off a rebound chance.
|Laura Stacey scored an empty-net goal for Canada.|
“We wanted to have a really good first five minutes,” said Pearn. “Getting in the early goal I think made a big difference that way and for the most part I think led to us controlling the game from there on.”
For the rest of the contest, Canada had a number of big chances to increase its lead. Raty kept her side in the game turning away 45-of-47 shots sent her way.
Emerance Maschmeyer turned away 14 shots to pick up the shutout win in goal for Canada.
Stacey’s empty-net tally inside of the final minute of the third erased any lingering doubts about what the final outcome may have been.
|Melodie Daoust scored Canada’s first goal on Friday.|
Bourbonnais said that first encounter with the U.S. was everything she expected it to be. She gets chills thinking about what it will be like to take part in one of the greatest rivalries in sports in a gold medal game.
“I’m nervous I will be honest,” said Bourbonnais. “Playing the U.S., they are the best team I have ever played against.
“They are fast and strong. They are all good. There is not a single weakness in their game I don’t think.
|The Team Canada players salute the SaskTel Centre crowd.|
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