Rookies chip in for big win over Aigles Bleus

Rookies chip in for big win over Aigles Bleus

By: Marshall Mayne

Following a shutout loss to the St. Thomas Tommies on Friday night, the Panthers took little time to find the scoresheet Sunday afternoon.

Just over the first minute, on the powerplay, Rachel Colle potted her first of the season, first year players, Kelly Clements, and Jolena Gillard chipped in with the assists.

After some pressure from the UdeM Aigles Bleus, Katryne Villeneuve took a roughing penalty, which allowed the UPEI Panthers to get their second chance on the powerplay. Panthers showcased some good puck movement on during the powerplay which finsihed with a nice recovery play from rookie defender Nikki Gallant found another first year player birthday girl, Kelly Clements in the slot who took a great shot which squeaked past starting goaltender Sabrina LeBrun, to give UPEI the 2-0 lead.

Entering the second period, the Panthers were unable to capitalize on their third powerplay as the UdeM Aigles Bleus did a great job shutting down the Panthers early in the frame. However, after some back and forth between the two teams at the 4:16 mark, UPEI extended their lead to 3 after a hard battle in the corner, rookie, Sydney Lyndon made a play to find Kaylee Dufresne, who's shot was tipped by yet another first year player Gillard.

The Panther faithful barely had time to get back down to their seats as less than a minute later, the rookie Taylor Gillis, weaved her way through the Aigles Bleus D off an offensive zone faceoff and was able to finish the play off after a nice deke around LeBrun to give the Panthers a commanding 4-0 lead 5:12 into the second period.

It was an eventful final two and a half minutes as both teams were able to light the lamp. Following a offensive zone faceoff win, Gallant put the puck deep in the corner for Colle who attempted a wrap a round, however, the puck found its way on Gillard's stick who had an easy tap in for her second of the game.

Facing a 5-0 deficit, the Aigles Bleus refused to roll over and were finally able to solve Scherger and get one for themselves. Similar to the UPEI 5th goal, UdeM off a faceoff win Émilie Lalancette moved the puck low for centre Katherine Dubuc, who found an open Isadora Quirion in front of the net to beat Scherger and trim the lead to 5-1.

In the final minute of the period, the Aigles Bleus struck again, Cassandra Labrie slap shot off the faceoff from Janelle Graham, found the back of the net as the puck found its way through traffic to beat Scherger.

Entering the third, the UPEI Panthers came out with a plan to ensure all pucks were sent deep into the Aigles Bleus zone to kill as much time off the clock. The plan was working until a powerplay opportunity arose for UdeM with three minutes remaining. Choosing to play aggressive, the Aigles Bleus elected to go with six skaters to try and get within striking distance to force overtime. The aggressiveness worked as it was Katryne Villeneuve, from Cassandra Labrie and Elizabeth Tremblay to cut the Panther lead to only two.

Following some nervous moments from the Panther faithful, it was Maria Clinton who was sprung free from Gabrielle Gray and she had no issues finding the empty net and sealing the first victory of the season for the Panthers 6-3.

Overall, coach Bruce Donaldson was impressed with effort he saw from his young squad this afternoon, "The girls worked hard today and did a great job on the specialty teams. Getting two powerplay goals up front helped and then killing 3 straight penalty kills added to the mental part of the game."

The Panthers will be back in action next weekend at home against the Dalhousie Tigers on Friday night, and on the road Saturday to face the Mount Allison Mounties.


Photo credit: Janessa Hogan