(Halifax, NS) — In an exciting matchup between the top two women's hockey teams in the AUS, the Saint Mary's Huskies hosted the UPEI Panthers at the Dauphinee Centre in Halifax. A single goal in the second period. would decide the game in favor of the Panthers.
Although the game was fast and physical, going end to end, scoring chances were initially scarce. There wasn't a shot on net until over four minutes into the game.
The Huskies had an opportunity with six minutes to go as Siobhan Birch (Mississauga, ON) sent a sharp angle shot from a battle along the boards in the corner. It slipped through the five hole of UPEI goalie Camille Scherger (Lloydminster, AB), but she quickly reached back and stopped the puck from crossing the goal line.
The Huskies used their speed to keep sustained pressure in the Panthers zone during the closing minutes of the first frame, as the away team had some difficulty with their zone entries.
The best shot of the period for the Panthers came with about a minute to go, as Mireille Martin (Moncton, NB) drove the net and tried to tuck the puck in on her backhand, but goalie Rebecca Clark (Keswick, ON) denied the chance.
The first period was scoreless, with the Huskies leading in shots 10-3.
The Panthers had a strong start to the second period, peppering Clark with shots. Their momentum was halted, however, by a Huskies power play with 16 minutes to go. They killed it off and after that the action went back and forth.
First Mary McDonald (Calgary AB) had a partial breakaway when she jumped on a misplay near the Panthers' blue line as a puck went off a skate. Heading the other way, a minute later, UPEI's Kelly Clements (Murray River, PEI) snuck behind the Huskies' defense and headed on a breakaway of her own. She made a nice deke before putting the puck wide.
The Panthers opened the scoring with seven and a half minutes to go in the period. On the power play, Jolena Gillard (Deer Lake, NL) cut to the middle of the slot and sent a wrist shot over the glove of Clark. Sydney Lyndon (Stittsville, ON) assisted on the goal.
After several power plays for each team, the second period ended with the Panthers up 1-0, with the Huskies up 25-11 in shots.
In the third period, Saint Mary's hunted for the equalizer. Though they had several power plays, including a five on three-man advantage, they couldn't find the back of the net. Spending most of the period in the Panthers' zone, they pulled their goalie and kept the game exciting right to the buzzer, as several shots from the point through traffic were redirected and nearly went in.
Time ran out for the home team, however, as the Panthers took this one 1-0. They handed the Huskies their first loss since Nov. 17, when they again faced UPEI and lost that game 4-0.
The Subway Player of the Game, facing 38 shots, was UPEI's goalie Camille Scherger.
The Huskies play next on January 14, when they travel to Antigonish to take on the X-Women, while the Panthers play host to St. Thomas on January 18.
Recap by Sarah Moore, SMU
Photo by Nick Pearce