By Thomas Becker
The UPEI Panthers have been searching for their offensive identity in recent games and they found it on Wednesday night when they shutout the Mount Allison Mounties 4-0.
Fourth-year forward Rachel Colle spearheaded the attack with a goal and two assists. Rookies Jolena Gillard and Kelly Clements recorded a goal and an assist each, while Jenna Pellerin hit the scoreboard first with her fourth of the season.
"The puck was moving tonight and we were executing better and battling hard in front of the net," said Colle, who was named the Subway Player of the Game.
The win was especially big considering Moncton and Dalhousie are on the Panthers' heels climbing toward the final two playoff spots.
"We were feeling the pressure of the game," said Panthers head coach Bruce Donaldson. "Give Mount A full credit, they came to play, but we were able to get a few bounces here and there, which we didn't get in the last couple of games."
From an emotional standpoint, the win was a much-needed confidence boost, as they came into the contest with three hard-fought losses against three very tough teams.
"We felt those games were probably the best three of our season, but we weren't getting pucks in," Colle said. "So it felt good facing Mount A and scoring the goals we felt we weren't getting last week."
After a slow start to the game, the Panthers' (12-11-1) offence finally broke through at the 15-minute mark, when they stormed ahead with two quick goals.
First it was Pellerin, who came in from the left, stickhandled her way through the last defender and snuck the puck past Mounties' (4-20-0) netminder Lindsay Wray.
Nineteen seconds later, Colle got in position near the far post and redirected Katelynn Nice's shot from the blue line to put her team ahead 2-0.
After a rough couple of outings, UPEI's power play unit – that ranked second coming into the game – found their rhythm again in the second period.
At 9:44, Clements extended the lead 3-0 when she tipped in Colle's shot from the high slot.
Gillard's presence in front of the net led to another power play goal five minutes later, when she tapped home the rebound after Colle fired a shot off Wray.
"I thought our execution on the power play was much better," Donaldson said. "We changed up a couple plays, but the big piece was that net-front presence. We have to be in front there in order to push pucks through."
The Panthers face an important test on Friday when they travel to Halifax to face a desperate Tigers team.
"We have a big weekend ahead of us and hopefully we can build off this momentum and clinch a playoff spot," Colle added.
Photo Credit: Janessa Hogan