BURNABY, B.C. - Even when they trailed 2-0 early in the third period the LHFDQ Nord were still having fun.
The good times got even better when the Nord scored three goals in 75 seconds and beat the North Bay Ice Boltz 5-2 in the Esso Cup final Saturday.
Eve-Audrey Picard had a goal and an assist as LHFDQ won its first Canadian national women's midget hockey championship. Audrey Belzile, Roxane Daley, Alexe Drouin and Katia Boulianne also scored for the team from Quebec.
"We were sure we could come back," said forward Valerie Audet, of St-Bruno, Que., the tournament scoring leader who collected an assist in the gold-medal game.
"We were positive until the end. We were having fun. That's the key to winning. You need to have fun."
When the final seconds ticked off the clock Nord players streamed off the bench to mob goaltender Valerie Lamenta.
The players pulled on white championship hats and paraded the Esso Cup around the Bill Copeland Sports Centre with the gold medals hanging around their necks.
Picard said the Nord never stopped believing in themselves, and that belief paid off in the final period.
"We thought we could win that game," said the Longueuil, Que., native. "We began to put a lot of pressure on them.
"We skated a lot. We did what we are best at. We put the puck on the net."
The Nord outshot the Ice Boltz 37-27.
"We're a good team," said Drouin. "We know what we can do."
Kaitlyn McManus and Corie Jacobson scored for North Bay.
The dejected Ice Boltz players could only watch as the Nord celebrated a victory North Bay looked to have wrapped up.
"We played as hard as we could," said head coach Darren Turcotte. "We had a couple of breakdowns.
"It was tough. They could have been mentally tired, maybe physically tired. It just kind of snowballed on us."
The Nord looked to be on the ropes when Jacobson made it 2-0 early in the third period. The Quebec team found life when Belzile scored at 3:47. The Nord bench was still celebrating when Daley tied the game at 4:02. Boulianne put the Nord ahead at 5:42.
Picard made it 4-2 at 9:14 before Drouin rounded out the scoring.
McManus opened the scoring early in the first period when her innocent looking shot floated past Lamenta. While the Ice Boltz celebrated one of Lamenta's teammates gave her a tap on the goal pads for encouragement.
Nord forward Danae Guay left the game in the second period after being injured in a collision along the boards.
The LHFDQ Nord had a 3-2 record in the preliminary round of the five-team tournament. North Bay was 3-1-1. It was the first time either team had competed in the Esso Cup.
Earlier, Elizabeth Salyn scored the lone goal midway through the third period as the Edmonton Thunder defeated the Regina Rebels 1-0 to win the bronze medal.
Players from North Bay and LHFDQ dominated the tournament awards.
North Bay's Sabrina Picard was the top goaltender while Jacobson was best defenceman.
The Nord's Jade Downie-Landry was best forward while Audet was the top scorer with four goals and nine assists for 13 points.
Mikaeli Cavell of the Edmonton Thunder was tournament most valuable player while Jodie Gentile of the host Fraser Valley Phantoms was most sportsmanlike.
The Nord advanced to the final with a 6-3 win over Regina on Friday while the Ice Boltz defeated Edmonton 5-1.
The Nord defeated North Bay 3-1 during the preliminary round.