Antigonish, NS - The visiting UPEI Panthers shutout the StFX X-Women 2-0 on Saturday night at the Charles V. Keating Centre.
Panthers goaltender Camille Scherger (Lloydminster, AB) was unbeatable between the pipes, registering 43 saves on the night as she was named the Subway player of the game.
The X-Women carried the play in the first period and forced Scherger to keep the Panthers level with the X-Women. She covered her angles well and made a number of good blocker saves on the short side. She also showed her quickness with both pads when required.
The X-Women had two power-play opportunities and their best chance came when Lindsay Donovan (Mirimachi, NB) fed Santana Gravelle (Lumsden, SK) who wired a shot off the post. The Panthers limited StFX's quality chances with good positioning in their own end. Offensively, the Panthers had limited possession in the X zone, with a couple of scrambles in front of Cassidy McEwen (Lloydminster, AB) but nothing which caused her any great distress.
The second period was a more even affair as the Panthers were able to establish more time in the StFX zone. UPEI proved more difficult to handle and their league best power-play had two opportunities early in the second period to score the game's first goal. The Panthers puck movement was decent, but some excellent play by X-Women defense Julia Schmitt (Windsor, NS) helped to keep the scores level.
With quality scoring chances at a premium as McEwan and Scherger were stopping everything in sight, Panthers captain Emma Weatherbie (Charlottetown, PE) looked to the heavens as she missed a chance to take the lead on the power-play.
Emerson Elliott (Aurora, ON), playing on a line with Sarah Bujold (Moncton, NB) and Emily Power (Aidrie, AB) looked the most like scoring for the X-Women, but the line was unable to capitalize on their time in the Panthers zone.
UPEI's good defensive play was rewarded with the first goal of the game with 2:12 remaining in the second frame. Caroline Daoust (Ile-Bizard, QC), made a nice pass in the Panthers zone to Kelly Dufresne (Orleans, ON), who flew down the wing and snapped a wrist shot high on the short side past McEwan into a space only slightly larger than the puck itself.
The X-Women were presented with a power-play opportunity 30 seconds into the third period. Defenceman Sophie Vandale (Winnipeg, MB) took a necessary hooking penalty with Bujold just outside the goal crease. It was the first of three power-play opportunities the X-Women had in the period. While Scherger made all the necessary saves, the Panthers defenders were superb. The pairing of Vandale and Katelyn Nice (St. John, NB) was especially dominant as the X-Women forwards could not break them down and put very few quality shots on net.
The defensive effort put forth by the entire Panthers team was rewarded with the lone third period goal. First year forward Taylor Gillis (Summerside, PEI), made a great play in the neutral zone by banking the puck off the boards and then collecting her own pass. Deep in the StFX zone she cut in from the wing and wristed a shot that once again found the top corner on the near side.
The X-Women's best chance of the period came from a point shot by Donovan, who beat Scherger on the far side (and she knew it) only to hit the post. The X-Women played the last two minutes on the power-play but, decent puck movement aside, did not look like scoring.
The UPEI Panthers were deserved winners based on the quality of their defensive play and their ability to take their chances when presented. The fact that StFX outshot the Panthers 43 to 15, with many of their chances coming on six power-plays, entitled them to nothing.
The X-Women will be back on the ice next Friday night, February 8th when they host St. Thomas. UPEI travels to Fredericton to play UNB next Saturday, February 9th.