Antigonish, NS - The StFX X-Women edged the St. Thomas Tommies in a close 2-1 contest Saturday evening at the Charles V. Keating Centre.
The Tommies dominated the first period of play, but could not solve freshman X-Women netminder Jamie Johnson (Victoria, BC). Mariah Carey (Avanport, NS) had the Tommies' best chance when she collected a pass in the neutral zone and went in on a breakaway that was well-saved by Johnson.
The key to the Tommies' success was the great play of their defencemen led by their anchor, Alex Woods (Courtice, ON), who was exceptional in both reading the play as well as making excellent passes in all three zones.
The X-Women had a difficult time breaking out of their own zone which led to chances for the likes of Olivia Reid (Aurora, ON) and captain Emily Oleksuk (Stoney Creek, ON).
StFX had the period's lone power-play could not solve Caroline Pietroski (Etobickoke, ON) while on the man-advantage. The X-Women scored - very much against the run of play - with just 11 seconds remaining in the frame. Lea MacLeod (Dartmouth, NS) walked out from behind the net and wired a wrist shot into the top corner. Drawing the assists were her linemates Lydia Schurman (Summerside, PEI) and Kristen McKinley (Rothesay, NB).
The second period was a much more even affair with the X-Women upping their standard of play. The Tommies, somewhat deflated by the X-Women goal, did not have the jump of the opening period but did well not to concede another marker with X spending more time in the offensive zone.
The X-Women had a golden chance to extend their lead with an extended five-on-three power-play. The Tommies' penalty killers were effective in limiting X's chances on net. To the fore on the penalty kill were rookies Stephanie Goertzen (Calendon, ON) and Emma Wilson (Midhurst, ON) who did good work along the boards and were perfectly positioned to take time and space away from the X shooters.
StFX continued to press in the Tommie zone and it was the line of Schurman, MacLeod, and McKinley that provided a much-needed goal for the X-Women. StFX established possession in the Tommies zone and with no shot available to Schurman in the slot, she redirected the puck to the corner. McKinley was first to the puck and used her time and space wisely to come out of the corner and make a nice pass to the open MacLeod. Once again, MacLeod fired a great shot to elude Pietroski.
Now down two goals, the Tommies immediately went on the attack and scored less than a minute later. STU broke out efficiently and this time it was Wilson and Goertzen to show their skill with the puck on their stick. Wilson made a great pass in the neutral zone to Goertzen who then connected with a streaking Woods. Woods fired a low shot on Johnson and then put in her own rebound chance. Drawing the second assist on the play was Wilson who made a nice pass in the neutral zone.
The 2-1 StFX lead held up until the end of the second period.
The third period was an entertaining affair with both teams searching for a goal that did not come. Both Johnson and Pietroski were excellent and neither were required to make acrobatic saves because they were never out of position and exhibited great rebound control.
The Tommies pressed throughout the period and with time ticking down, forced Santana Gravelle (Lumsden, SK) to take a checking penalty with ten seconds remaining in the game. With the goalie pulled, the Tommies won the draw and controlled the puck but could not get a good shot on net to force the game to overtime and X held on for the win.
The three stars of the game included StFX's Lydia Schurman as third star, St. Thomas' Alex Woods as second star and for her two-goal effort, StFX's Lea MacLeod earned first star and Subway player of the game honours.
Next up on the AUS schedule, the Tommies will host UPEI next Friday evening, November 22nd at 7:00 pm. Also on Friday, the X-Women will host the Moncton Aigles-Bleues in a 7:00 pm puck-drop.
Recap courtesy Bart Sears, StFX Sports Information