Halifax, NS -- The Saint Mary's Huskies gave the crowd a great show in their final game on home ice before the holiday break, defeating the UPEI Panthers 5-2 in AUS women's hockey action on Sunday afternoon.
Siobhan Birch and Hannah Askin each scored a pair for the Huskies, who improve to a 9-2-1 record on the season. Brooke Murphy added a single for Saint Mary's, while Rachel Colle and Leah Byrne tallied third period goals for UPEI. The Panthers' losing streak extends to seven games; they're currently 6th in the 7-team conference.
The Huskies controlled play right from the opening faceoff, but goaltender Rebecca Clark had to be sharp, stopping Kaylee Dufresne on a breakaway in the opening minutes. The Huskies got on the board 13:48 into the opening frame when Kate Barber cruised into the attacking zone and fired a shot on goal. Panthers goalie Camille Scherger made the initial stop, but Birch was on the doorstep to pot the rebound for her 6th of the season. Askin made it 2-0 nearly four minutes later, hammering a shot from the point. Nicole Blanche and Laura Polak picked up assists on Askin's first of the year.
The Huskies chased Scherger from the crease early in the second period. Captain Breanna Lanceleve pounced on a rebound deep in Panthers territory and fed Askin for a one-timer from high in the slot that found the back of the net less than three minutes into the frame, and just 13 seconds later a Leandra Timmerman shot was deflected in the slot, landing on the stick of Brooke Murphy who buried it for her second of the season. Mary Worndl also collected an assist on the goal that caused Megan Sullivan to take over between the pipes for UPEI. Birch would add her second of the afternoon on a 5-on-3 advantage late in the second period, cashing in from the goal line after a Beatrice Harrietha point shot missed just wide.
The Panthers' play improved greatly in the third period, beginning just 44 seconds in when Rachel Colle fired the puck past Clark into the top shelf while shorthanded. Colle leads the Panthers in goal scoring with four. Sydnee Baker notched an assist on UPEI's first goal of the day. The Panthers continued to press throughout the third, but couldn't dent the mesh again until Leah Byrne tipped in a Madison Clarke point shot with just 96 seconds remaining in the game. Alisha MacDonald had the second assist on Byrne's second marker of the year. Rebecca Clark stopped 24 of 26 in the win.
The two points keep Saint Mary's one point behind first-place StFX, with a big matchup between the two looming on Wednesday evening in Antigonish. The Huskies will wrap up their pre-Christmas schedule in Moncton on Saturday. UPEI hosts Dalhousie on Saturday, and travel to face St. Thomas on Sunday.