By Thomas Becker
It's been awhile since Island fans have seen an offence as prolific as the UPEI Panthers have shown recently.
After putting up six goals against Moncton last weekend, the Panthers put up five more against the Dalhousie Tigers in a convincing 5-1 win Friday night.
Rookie forward Jolena Gillard is already making a bid for Rookie of the Year, as she scored two more goals (bringing her total to four on the season) and added a helper to lead the way.
"I'm getting a chance to help the team out and to get some points on the board," said Gillard, who was named Subway Player of the Game. "Our offence is improving every game and we're just getting more confident."
For head coach Bruce Donaldson, it's music to his ears.
"I felt good about our recruiting year and clearly it's paying dividends."
The Panthers dominated the pace of play and never gave the Tigers an opportunity to get comfortable, as they outshot their opponent 42-15.
Donaldson said the team has been working hard on turning shots into scoring opportunities and today he liked what he saw.
"I thought it started with our forecheck. Our pressure was pretty good and it gave us opportunities to score."
On an odd-man rush just three minutes in, Maria Clinton found Gillard to her left for the easy goal on the open cage.
The lead lasted just 10 minutes before Tigers' forward Keana Oshowy got one past Camille Scherger. The UPEI keeper made the save on Oshowy's initial shot, but the sophomore forward made the second one count, as she deposited the rebound to tie the game.
UPEI outplayed their opponent throughout the period and they were rewarded in the final second, when Kristen MacIntyre sniped a shot top left corner to push them ahead 2-1.
The Panthers executed the two-man advantage to perfection in the opening minutes of the second, as MacIntyre fed the puck to Sophie Vandale, who fired it in from the left circle to extend the lead 3-1.
UPEI's power play unit was outstanding, scoring in three of their four opportunities. This time it was Gillard, who continued her strong play and scored her second goal of the game 11:09 into the third.
"Our frontline had a great night on the power play. We had great control, good puck movement and great execution," Donaldson said.
Twenty seconds later, Leah Byrne sealed the game 5-1 with her first of the season.
The Panthers look to make it three wins in a row when they visit the Mount Allison Mounties on Oct. 20. Puck drops at 7 p.m.
Photo Credit: Janessa Hogan