Antigonish, NS — The StFX X-Women took a 1-0 series lead in AUS semifinal playoff action with a 4-3 victory over the UPEI Panthers in Game 1 Saturday night at the Charles V. Keating Centre.
The game was a physical one with each team taking 12 penalty minutes on the night.
StFX took an early 3-0 lead in the game after 20 minutes of play.
Lydia Schurman (Summerside, PE) and Tyra Meropoulis (Edson, AB) scored two minutes apart in the opening five minutes of play.
Schurman pushed in a rebound off a Lindsey Donovan (Mirimichi, NB) shot from the point. Recently named AUS most valuable player Meropoulis scored on a nice individual effort as she brought the puck in form the blue line, deked a Panthers defender and scored on Camille Scherger (Lloydminster, AB) five-hole in the UPEI net.
The X-Women went up 3-0 on a goal from freshman forward Jayden Thompson (Aurora, ON) at 14:33. She scored on a shot from the slot after a nice tic-tac-toe passing play by Meropoulis and Emerson Elliott (Aurora, ON).
Shots favoured the X-Women 13-4 in the opening period as X-Women head coach Ben Berthiaume noted, "I thought our first period was really good, we were getting pucks deep, cycling the puck well and moving our feet."
"The second period I thought we backed off a little bit and once you relax a little bit they scored one on us, then another one, and we got into a bit of penalty trouble and got into a bit of panic mode."
The Panthers certainly came out a different team in the second period. Freshman forward Lexie Murphy (Summerside, PE) got the visitors on the board just over two minutes as Jolena Gillard (Deer Lake, NF) made a nice play to get the puck out of the corner and to Murphy in front.
Three minutes later the Panthers found themselves on a six-minute power play advantage as Donovan was called for body contact and head contact.
They took advantage and notched one goal as Taylor Gillis (Summerside, PE) pushed to puck in off a goal crease scramble.
The period closed out with StFX holding onto the one-goal lead at 3-2 despite being outshot 16-6 in the middle frame.
They regained their two-goal lead 2:54 into the third period as Carly Burrows (New Glasgow, NS) tallied on a one-timer from Julia Schmitt (Windsor, NS) who made a nice play on the forecheck to steal the puck deep in the Panthers zone.
The Panthers did not give up, however and Gillis scored her second of the game late in the period with 1:41 remaining in the game. She brought the puck down the wing and scored short side on X-Women netminder Jamie Johnson (Victoria, BC) on a shot from the far side of the face-off circle.
UPEI pulled Scherger from the goal with just over a minute to play in favour of the extra attacker, pressing for the equalizer, but the X-Women were able to hold on for the win.
Berthiaume commented, "We came back and played better in the third period but they are a good hockey team and they're not going to sit back despite the three-goal deficit."
"Overall we played a pretty good game but a few things we have to clean up, especially on the defensive side before the next game."
With a goal and an assist, Meropoulis received Subway player of the game honours for the X-Women. Murphy was the Subway player of the game for the Panthers as she had a goal and two assists on the night.
Johnson earned the win in the X net with 24 saves as the X-Women outshot the Panthers by a 35-27 margin.
The series now shifts to Charlottetown for Game 2 on Tuesday, February 25th. StFX will be looking to sweep the best-of-three series, while the Panthers aim to even it up on home ice. Puck drop is 7:00 pm.
Recap courtesy StFX Sports Information
Photos by Britt Pigat, StFX Sports Information