By Thomas Becker
Photo Janessa Hogan
The young Panthers handed the Saint Mary's Huskies their first regulation loss of the season, edging them 3-2 Friday night.
After allowing the tying goal in the opening minutes of the third period, UPEI came back just seconds later on Jessie Brown's first goal of the season to pull off the upset.
"It's nice to get that first goal," Brown said. "When they come back like that it sucks of course, but we rallied together and pulled through as a team."
Saint Mary's came into MacLauchlan Arena ranked second in Canada, but that didn't faze head coach Bruce Donaldson who challenged his team to take a stand against one of the best.
"I said to the girls tonight that this is the No. 2 team in the country we're facing, maybe tonight we should be No. 1.
"The Huskies (6-1-1) opened the game with lots of energy, nearly putting a dent in the scoreboard midway through the period on a flurry of activity in front of UPEI's net.
The Panthers (6-3) countered on the ensuing faceoff when one of their forwards busted through on a breakaway. But a trailing Huskies' defender was able to get her stick to the puck, poking it loose before a shot was fired.
At 11:05 Panthers' keeper Marie-Soleil Deschenes made the initial save on a Hayley Hallihan shot, but teammate Haylee Tretiak was there to clean up the rebound, giving the Huskies a 1-0 lead.
UPEI made the most of a 5-on-3 advantage in the second period. Just 44 seconds into the frame, Sydnee Baker gathered the puck off a Bria Harding rebound and rattled the back of the cage, giving the rookie forward her third goal of the campaign to tie the game at one apiece.
Donaldson said the power play goal was crucial in getting the offence going. Before Friday's contest, the Panthers were last in the conference with just three goals on 21 opportunities with the man advantage.
"It didn't happen the way it was drawn up, but at the end of the day it went in so we'll take it."
With momentum on their side, the Panthers were determined to complete the upset.
Thirteen minutes into the middle period, Emma Weatherbie deposited her second of the season following Caroline's Daoust rocket off Huskies goaltender Rebecca Clarke.
Opening the third period with the man advantage, Saint Mary's capitalized immediately. Caitlyn Manning recorded her sixth goal of the season, tying the game two all. But the tie was short-lived as the Panthers came right back to reclaim the lead on Brown's goal.
The Huskies had an opportunity late while on the power play, but UPEI's penalty kill unit came up big in the final minutes to seal the 3-2 win.
The Panthers travel to Antigonish next where they'll take on the St. F.X. X-Women. Puck drops at 2 p.m. on Nov. 13.