By Thomas Becker
The UPEI Panthers had this game circled on their calendar the moment they lost to the Saint Mary's Huskies over a month ago.
Today, they made a statement.
In a battle of two nationally ranked teams, the Panthers (11-2-1) avenged the loss and took down the Huskies (12-2) in impressive fashion with a 4-0 win.
Third-year goaltender Camille Scherger continues to make the case as the league's MVP, as she recorded 39 saves for her sixth shutout of the season.
"These are the games we want to play in, they're so much fun," said Scherger, who was named the Subway Player of the Game. "The energy was unbelievable today."
On the offensive end, UPEI used a balanced attack to upend an opponent that allowed just 13 goals entering the game. Sophie Vandale, Jolena Gillard, Delaney Boehm and Rachel Colle each scored in the win, while Jenna Pellerin notched three assists.
"With any team we play, we have to win the battles down low and I found once we got behind their defence, we were pretty hard to stop," Pellerin said.
Knowing this was a big game, the Panthers came out ready and pounced on the Huskies early. While on the power play at 6:49, Vandale fired a shot from the point past goaltender Rebecca Clark, who was screened on the play.
Scherger and the defence were tested early in the second, when they had to contend against Saint Mary's top-ranked power play, while being down two players for more than a minute. The visitors peppered Scherger with several shots, but couldn't solve the MVP candidate.
"She's playing with a lot of confidence," said Panthers head coach Bruce Donaldson of his star goaltender. "I thought she stood tall today. She was out, she was aggressive and she didn't give up much in terms of rebounds."
That proved to be a big moment in the game, as the home team made the Huskies pay for the missed opportunity later in the period. At 14:17, Gillard gathered the rebound off a Lexi Murphy shot and snuck it by Clark for the 2-0 advantage.
With under a minute remaining, Pellerin lobbed a pass over the defence to Boehm, who broke free and slid it under the netminder, as the Panthers pushed the lead to 3-0.
UPEI found the back of the net again just 23 seconds into the third, when Colle took advantage of another Clark rebound and tucked it home from the side of the net.
"It was a real motivator when we got that early goal and for them it's tough to come back from 4-0. I thought from there on in, we kept them limited on scoring opportunities," Donaldson said.
Even after an emotional win, Scherger mentioned that there's still room for growth with this group and plenty of work ahead of them.
"We're not satisfied with this. This is just a stepping stone to where we want to go, but it's a big stepping stone."
The Panthers face another tough test on Friday when they visit the St. Thomas Tommies. Puck drops at 7 p.m.
Photo Credit: Janessa Hogan