Antigonish, NS – The Subway AUS women's hockey championship final series is headed to a deciding Game 3 after the StFX X-Women defeated the Saint Mary's Huskies 2-1 on Sunday afternoon in front of 400 fans at the StFX Keating Centre.
Lisa Downey's goal 1:35 into the third period was the game winner as the X-Women outshot the Huskies 37-15 in the game. The fourth year forward from Stratford, ON picked up the puck in front of the SMU net and popped a shot up high over the shoulder of Rebecca Clark (Keswick, ON). Lindsey Donovan (Miramichi, NB) and Brooke Noseworthy (St. Anthony, NL) assisted on the play.
The X-Women executed their game plan right from the get-go, outshooting the Huskies 18-3 in the first period. Head coach David Synishin commented, "There was two things we had to do, we had to limit their opportunities which means limiting our mistakes, and we had to generate more offense."
"We played all right up there," referring to their 3-2 loss in Game 1 in Halifax on Saturday evening, "but we weren't getting enough to the net. First period shots today were 18-3, so from a systems perspective and from what we asked of our players we really couldn't have gotten more from them."
Synishin continued, "It was still a tight game, we had to score in the third period to win it but that tells you how good these teams are. I think overall probably one of the best games we've played this year."
The X-Women generated more scoring chances and shots on goal then their counterparts in the first period as Huskies netminder Clark was kept busy early on. The X-Women controlled possession for the significantly portion of the opening period, keeping the Huskies without a shot on goal until nine minutes in.
Despite StFX outshooting the defending AUS champion Huskies, the score remained scoreless after 20 minutes.
Saint Mary's found life early in the second period when Nicole Blanche (Dunville, NF) got open in front of the X net and tucked the puck under the pads of StFX goalie Ariana Orasanin (Ancaster, ON) to give them a 1-0 lead in the game. Siobhan Birch (Mississauga, ON) and Caitlyn Manning (Cambridge, ON) assisted on the goal that came 55 seconds into the second period.
The X-Women didn't waste long striking back as they capitalized on a power play opportunity less than two minutes later. Freshman defenseman Lindsey Donovan (Miramichi, NB) blasted a point shot through traffic in front of the SMU net that beat Clark. Emily Power (Airdrie, AB) and Nicole Halladay (Aurora, ON) had the helpers.
Despite power play chances by both squads, the score remained deadlocked at 1-1 after two periods of play. Clarke continued to play big in the Huskies net, coming up with some key saves as the X-Women once again held the shot advantage, this time at 13-5.
After Downey's go-ahead goal at 1:35 of the third period, both squads played a fast-paced third period, featuring end-to-end action in an almost-overtime like period. The Huskies pressured to score the equalizer but Orasanin held her ground.
Their best chance came with over five minutes to play as Huskies captain Breanna Lanceleve (Middle Sackville, NS) had a great wrap-around attempt but was unable to stuff it past Orasanin.
The Huskies outshot the X-Women 7-6 in the final frame but were unable to find the back of the net.
With her 35 saves on the afternoon in a losing effort for the Huskies, Rebecca Clark received her team's Subway player of the game award.
StFX defense Lindsey Donovan was the X-Women Subway player of the game.
The series now shifts back to Halifax, NS for a deciding Game 3 on Tuesday night, March 7th to see who will claim the 2017 Subway AUS championship banner.
Looking ahead to the game, Coach Synishin commented, "It is a smaller rink so we know that decisions will have to be made quicker, but I think it suits us very well. Saint Mary's is a very good hockey team and they do a good job of capitalizing on mistakes but we just have to go hard, leave it on the ice and see what happens."
Puck drops at 7:00 pm at Alumni Arena in Halifax on Tuesday evening.