By Thomas Becker
Photo Janessa Hogan
It was a rough start to the New Year for the women's hockey Panthers who were defeated by the Dalhousie Tigers in a 2-1 shootout Saturday afternoon.
Coming into the game, the Tigers placed last in the standings, looking to secure any points possible to keep their playoff hopes alive.
"We've been putting the work in and battling every night," said Tigers head coach Sean Fraser. "It's nice to finally get that win and hopefully it pushes us for the rest of the semester."
The Panthers, meanwhile, fell for the first time in overtime this season.
"We were a little rusty but give Dalhousie credit they played like they needed the points," said Panthers head coach Bruce Donaldson. "Dalhousie is always in their games, it's just a goal here and there and sometimes that's the difference."
After a strong 2016 where they finished with a 9-5 record, the Panthers looked to maintain their solid play against Dalhousie.
However, the Tigers pounced first just three minutes into the game when Corinne Desjardins hammered home the rebound following Marie-Soleil Deschenes' initial save.
Dalhousie continued to push the pace, firing rockets at the Panther keeper, but after allowing the go-ahead goal Deschenes settled in and kept her team afloat.
UPEI's pressure picked up late in the period but Mati Barrett's shutout first, where she made nine saves for the Tigers, was enough to take a 1-0 lead into the intermission.
Despite the disappointing opening frame, the Panthers came out of the break energized, looking to strike even with their opponent.
However, the Panthers attack was stalled at the 8:45 mark as Dalhousie was awarded a power play, poised to extend the lead. But Deschenes' presence between the pipes was felt as she made four key stops to keep the deficit at a single goal.
The Tigers defence clamped down late in the period, limiting the Panthers to just six shots, while preserving their 1-0 edge.
Unsatisfied with their first 40-minute performance, the Panthers jumped on the Tigers throughout the final period, dominating puck possession while outshooting their opponent 7-4.
With less than three minutes remaining, UPEI finally got that elusive goal. Rookie forward Sydnee Baker, in a flurry of activity at the net, found the back of the cage to tie the game at 1-1 and sending it to overtime.
But it wasn't meant to be as Dalhousie's fifth skater delivered the final blow in the shootout, where they took the 2-1 win.
The Panthers look to get back in the win column when they take on the St. F.X. X-Women on Jan. 8 at MacLauchlan Arena. Puck drops at 2 p.m.