(Halifax N.S.) With a trip to the Subway AUS Women's Hockey Championship and the U-Sports National Championship on the line, the SMU Huskies beat the UDEM Aigles Bleus 2-1 on Monday in game 3 at Alumni Arena.
"We're pretty proud of the girls, very happy for them," said Huskies head coach Chris Larade. "They've worked long and hard since September."
"I think we made things a little more exciting than they needed to be. That just seems to be the way we do things."
It was a battle between the pipes as both Rebecca Clark (Keswick ON) and Gabrielle Forget (Joliette QC) stood on their heads.
Clark made 22 saves in the win. She was huge early in the first and late in the third as the Huskies protected their one goal lead.
"Clarky is Clarky," Larade said with a laugh. "You can tell she's a ball player she's flashing the leather out there."
"It's pretty cool and comforting as a coach and I'm sure as a forward and especially the D-pairs that they know they've got Clarky back there."
Forget was spectacular throughout. She finished with 30 saves. Many of which were on point blank high quality scoring chances.
"[Forget] played just as well if not better," said Larade. "She was unbelievable all series long. It took everything we had to muster [to score]"
Katryne Villeneuve (Casselman, ON) scored for the Aigles Bleus.
The Aigles Bleus controlled more of the play in the early moments but it was Polak who opened the scoring 7:38 into the game.
With Polak and Barber battling in the left corner, Polak was able to dig it free and work toward the net. She tried to send a pass to MacDonald in the slot and it ricocheted off a stick and into the back of the net.
Villeneuve tied it up at 1-1 with 4:25 left in the first. Karine Roy (Nigadoo, NB) got the puck to Marie-Pier Corriveau (Magog, QC) in behind the Huskies net.
Corriveau waited patiently before hitting Villeneuve on the tape all alone in the slot and Villeneuve quickly sent it five-hole.
The Huskies dominated play in the second outshooting the Aigles Bleus 13-4 but they could not find a way past Forget.
"We juggled our lines up the last five-minutes of the second and I thought that really created a spark for us," said Larade.
The move paid off as Birch became the hero for the Huskies with 6:47 left on the clock in the third.
Manning wheeled in behind the Aigles Bleus net and sent the puck on goal. Forget made the initial save and Birch was able to track the loose puck on top of the crease and send it home for the series winner.
The Aigles Bleus made a late push with the extra attacker on the ice but could not beat Clark again.
"I think our depth had the final word I guess," said Larade. "When you're able to throw basically everybody that's on the bench it's a pretty good asset to have."
Both teams were blanked on the power-play with the Aigles Bleus going zero for three and the Huskies zero for two.
The Huskies outshot the Aigles Bleus 32-23.
The Huskies will host the winner of the game between the STU Tommies and StFX X-Women series in the Subway AUS Women's Hockey Championship.
By Cam Honey-Webb
Photo Nick Pearce