Antigonish, NS - It was do or die for the STFX X-Women and the squad got it done with a 6-1 AUS quarterfinal win over the Moncton Aigles Bleues on Wednesday night at the Charles V Keating Centre in front of 500 fans.
With the win, the U SPORTS No. 5 ranked X-Women will move on the AUS semifinals, where they will take on the Saint Mary's Huskies in a best 2-of-3 series.
The teams were even for most of the first period, with neither side able to cash in on early chances as nerves proved to be a factor. STFX was first on the scoreboard late in the period when Anna MacCara (Trenton, NS) picked up a pass from Jayden Thompson (Aurora, ON) at the redline and gained the Moncton zone before passing to an overlapping Landyn Pitts (Antigonish, NS) who tucked the puck into the open side.
Shots at the end of the first were 14-8 in favour of the X-Women.
After the tense play in the first period, the X-Women came out of the dressing room flying to start the second. Kamdyn Switzer (Stittsville, ON) scored 22 seconds into the period, taking a cross-ice pass from captain Emerson Elliott (Aurora, ON) near the Moncton blue line, then streaking in and rifling a shot over the glove of Moncton's Audrey Bethiaume (St. Bruno, QC).
STFX made it a three goal game just over two minutes later. Thompson intercepted a pass and carried it into the Moncton end before passing off to Chloe Vukosa (Mississauga, ON) who made a move before sliding it home.
The X-Women kept up the attack and Moncton had little in the way of a reply. After a flurry of chances, defender Josie Chisholm (Antigonish, NS) potted a low wrister from the point just past the midway point of the period with Lea MacLeod (Dartmouth, NS) getting the helper.
Moncton made a game of it late in the second, as Marika Gagnon (Embrun, ON) scored from in close off a pass from Clemence Dumesnil (Laval, QC).
Shots at the end of the second were 30-10 in favour of STFX as they held the 3-1 advantage.
STFX was first on the scoreboard again in the third, scoring on the powerplay at 1:10, with Hannah MacDonald (Wetaskawin, AB) wiring a shot from the point. Chisholm had the assist on the fifth X goal.
The home team kept up the pressure, heavily out shooting the Aigles Bleues. MacCara put the final nail in the coffin, with 2:15 left to play in the third, taking a pass from Thompson and skating to the point before putting one in through traffic.
Final shots in the game favoured the X-Women, 43-13 as Berthiaume made 37 saves on the night in the loss, while X-Women goalie Jamie Johnson (Victoria, BC) had 12 saves for the win.
Moncton forward Emilie Comeau (Hearst, ON) earned Subway player of the game honours, while Thompson, with a pair of assists, was the Subway player of the game for X. After the match, she said her team came to play.
"You got the feeling during the off-ice warm-up, all the girls were serious, buzzing, and super excited to get going," she said. "I think the general environment was super positive before the game and going out there, everyone was very pumped up for each other and we came out to play."
As for the tense first period, Thompson said nerves were a factor as the team hasn't played in the playoffs in two years.
"I think nerves came into play but after the first period, it kind of went away and that's when we took off," she said.
The X Women are now set to take on the Saint Mary's Huskies in a best of three AUS semi-final series. The first game is set for Friday night in Halifax before returning to Antigonish for Saturday's game 2. Game 3, if necessary, will be Monday evening at Saint Mary's.
Courtesy Matt Draper, STFX Sports Information