By Thomas Becker
The UPEI Panthers scored a goal in all three periods en route to a 3-0 shutout of the Dalhousie Tigers Friday night.
Taylor Gillis, Kaylee Dufresne scored a goal each, while Jolena Gillard netted a goal and an assist to lead all scorers. Camille Scherger, meanwhile, made 25 saves to record her fourth shutout in just six games.
"Every area of our game has stepped up from last year," said Scherger, who was named Subway Player of the Game. "Our practices are a lot more high-tempo and everyone is pushing each other. It's a grind, but obviously the results are showing."
With the win, the first-place Panthers improve to 6-1 and are eyeing a spot in the U Sports Top 10 ranking, especially after getting snubbed earlier in the week.
"We're a bit confused," Scherger said of the rankings. "We have a bigger sample size than some of those teams and we've shown that we belong there."
The Panthers were sluggish to begin the game, as the Tigers pushed the pace and consistently kept the puck in the attacking zone. However, the effort was for naught, as UPEI capitalized on a chance at 10:55. Faith Steeves' hustle and forechecking ability led to the opening goal when the fourth-year forward stole the puck and fired it off the goaltender before Gillis jabbed home the rebound.
Scherger came up big late in the period when her team was faced against a long five-on-three, making several stops to keep the 1-0 lead intact.
After Gillard put a shot on net four minutes into the second, the puck slid through the crease to Dufresne, who deposited her first of the season.
Scherger pulled out the stops again midway through the second, when the Panthers had to contend against another two-man advantage. The netminder and the defence in front of her were able to shutdown Dalhousie to keep the game at 2-0 heading into the third.
Despite the lead, head coach Bruce Donaldson was a bit disappointed with his team's lack of discipline and their play in the defensive zone through the first two periods.
"Dalhousie came to play tonight. They worked hard and were tough," he said. "The difference today was that we were able to shutdown their two five-on-threes."
UPEI dominated in the third and peppered Fabiana Petricca with 18 shots in the third and got one by her six minutes in, when Lexie Murphy left the puck for Gillard, who sniped it home on the odd-man rush.
The Panthers have made a conscious effort of getting more pucks on net and Friday night was no different as they attempted 46 shots.
"You can't win games if you don't shoot and that's always been our Achilles, so we're doing a lot of it in practice," Donaldson said.
The Panthers go for the seventh win when they travel to Fredericton to take on the St. Thomas Tommies on Oct. 26 at 7 p.m.
Photo Credit: Janessa Hogan