U of A Pandas earn 8th national women's hockey title

Thrilled but exhausted, the University of Alberta Pandas women's hockey team returned to Edmonton on Monday with a hard-earned national championship.

The Pandas earned a 2-1 double-overtime victory Sunday night in Napanee, Ont., against the McGill Martlets.

Rookie defenceman Taylor Kezama scored the winning goal.

"Originally I didn't even know that I had scored," Kezama told CBC News at the Edmonton International Airport.

"I just saw Alex Poznikoff celebrate and then I just got so excited and I couldn't belive that it had gone in, probably one of the best feelings that I have ever had in my life." 

The Pandas started the scoring in the second period, and McGill answered in the third, leading to one overtime period and into a second.

Captain Sasha Lutz, who earned an assist on Kezama's winning goal, was proud of the way the team came together on the ice.

"It was a dream come true," said Lutz.

"We are really young this year but everybody bought in to what we were doing on and we were all so connected, it was just special."

Pandas head coach Howie Draper was pleased to see his players keep their heads in the game as the pressure mounted against the higher ranked McGill squad.

"To take them to double overtime, in a final game with a team that's composed primarily of first and second years players — if we don't win then I am still going to be satisfied," said Draper.

"But we got the win and that was even better."

The tournament's most valuable player award went to Pandas goalie Lindsey Post.

"There are no words to describe it," Post said.

"This is the most amazing experience pretty much of my life and to finish off in my fifth year with this group of girls is just absolutely incredible."

The Pandas last won the U Sports championship in 2010. The team has now won eight national titles.