(Halifax, NS) The Saint Mary's Huskies defended home ice against their Halifax rival Dalhousie Tigers - picking up a 5-1 win at Alumni Arena on Sunday afternoon.
Rebecca Clarke (Keswick, Ont.) made 30 saves in the win.
Lisa MacLean (Inverness, N.S.) scored for the Tigers.
Jessica Severeyns (Hammonds Plains, N.S.) finished with 32 saves. She made a number of highlight reel saves. The best coming in the second period, going left-to-right to rob Horwood with the pad and minutes later flashing the leather to snag a hot shot off the stick of Laura Polak (Bedford, N.S.).
Dalhousie got off to a hot start with MacLean scoring just six-seconds after the opening puck drop. She won the draw to Victoria Macintosh (Hammonds Plains, N.S.), got it right back and swooped into the SMU zone for the quick goal.
The Tigers were in control of the play for much of the first period and Clarke came up big for the Huskies to keep it a one-goal deficit after 20.
Saint Mary's had more jump in their step to start the second period and Horwood got them on the board just 2:20 in. Caitlin Pejkovic (Sherwood Park, Alta.) sprung Horwood on a blue-line break and she fired a forehand shot in low-blocker.
Birch scored the winner just one-minute 40-seconds later. The Huskies had the cycle game going down low in the Tigers zone with Brooke Murphy and Mary Worndl (Kitchener, Ont.) getting in on the play. Murphy got the puck to Birch to the left of the goal and she sent it in off the skate of Severeyns.
Murphy stretched the lead to 3-1 at the 8:08 mark of the second. At the tail end of a power-play Worndl found Birch in the high-slot and she muscled a low shot on goal that Murphy deflected in five-hole.
Horwood scored her second on a five-on-three power-play 9:13 into the third. A pinching Hannah Askin (Waterloo, Ont.) sent the puck back to Nicole Blanche (Dunville, N.L.) covering on the point. Blanche spotted Breanna Lanceleve (Middle Sackville, N.S.) open on the right side of the net and Lanceleve one-touched a pass to Horwood for a tap in from the doorstep.
The Tigers, needing three to tie, pulled the goalie with seven minutes left in the game. They put the pressure on for a couple of minutes until Horwood broke free to pot an empty netter with 4:33 left on the clock.
Shots were 37-31 in favor of the Tigers.
Up next, The Huskies host the Mount Allison Mounties on Friday, January 12 at Alumni Arena, while the Tigers host the Mounties on Saturday, January 13 at Civic Arena.
Cam Honey-Webb, SMU Communications
Photo Nick Pearce