Charlottetown, PEI - The StFX X-Women are moving on to the AUS final series after a 3-2 victory over the UPEI Panthers Tuesday night to sweep the semifinal series 2-0.
In sports, sometimes the smallest bounces can determine a game. The X-Women benefited from a couple bounces in the third period to score two goals and take the win.
The first bounce came at 8:19 in the third. After Amy Graham casually fired the puck from the blue line off the end boards, it deflected off the back of Camille Scherger's skate and in which tied the game at 2-2.
"I've been here for 14 years and I've never seen that," said Panthers head coach Bruce Donaldson. "It's just one of those things that happen in sports."
StFX's Emerson Elliot scored the go-ahead goal at 15:41 when Emma Thomas crossed it through the crease to the forward, who banked a redirect off the post and in.
"We knew we had to get shots on net in the period," said Tyra Meropoulis, who also assisted on the winning goal. "That lucky one bounced in for us and we just kept pushing until the end."
With the win, the X-Women head to the AUS finals for the fourth consecutive year.
"It's pretty exciting," Meropoulis said. "I think we know what to expect, so we just have to give it our all. We have to play like we did in that third period."
The Panthers came out of the gate strong and looked poised to send the series back to Antigonish for a Game 3, as they outshot their opponent 16-3 in the period. Jenna Pellerin opened the scoring just 3:46 into the game, when she sprung free on the right wing on a short pass from Rachel Colle and drove to the net hard before sending a backhand past the goaltender for the shorthanded marker.
Subway Player of the Game Meropoulis tied it up midway through the second when Elliott sent a pass to the conference MVP in the left circle where she wired a shot five-hole. At 12:02, UPEI's Kaylee Dufresne sent a pass in front to Kelly Clements who sniped it in the top corner, as the Panthers pulled ahead 2-1. They'd take that lead into the third before StFX pulled off the comeback.
Jamie Johnson was solid between the pipes where she made 32 saves. Her best friend on the night may have been the crossbar, as Caroline Daoust rang one off the iron in the first, followed by Taylor Gillis in the second. Scherger, meanwhile, turned aside 18 shots in the loss.
"I can't ask for anything more," said Donaldson of his team's fight. "They played their hearts out and that was amazing hockey played tonight."
With the 2-0 series win, the X-Women now advance to the Subway AUS championship series against the Saint Mary's Huskies, who also won thier series 2-0 over the UNB Reds.
The final series will be another best-of-three event with the schedule to be determined in the coming days. The Huskies have home ice advantage as they earned the tiebreaker in regular season play over the X-Women. Both teams finsihed atop the AUS conference with identical records of 22-5-1.
The winner will advance to the U SPORTS national championship March 12-15, joining the host UPEI squad in Charlottetown.
Courtesy Thomas Becker, UPEI Sports Information