(Halifax, NS) The AUS women's hockey playoffs kicked off this Friday at the Halifax Civic Centre, when the Saint Mary's Huskies took a one game lead in the best of three final series against the Moncton Aigles Bleues.
The Huskies came out flying, opening the scoring just 40 seconds into the game. Caitlin Pejkovic (Sherwood Park, AB) made a pass through the neutral zone to Sydney England (Chamcook, NC), who came with speed down the right wing and shot the puck five hole on goalie Audrey Berthiaume (St-Bruno, QC).
The Huskies continued to play an aggressive game, jumping up to intercept passes and keeping the Aigles Bleues hemmed in their end.
The Aigles Bleues settled down and started to put some pressure on Saint Mary's halfway through the period. They got some zone time but the majority of their shots were blocked or deflected as they could only get five on net in the first period.
With just under four minutes to go, the Huskies went on the power play and had a number of scoring chances. Brooke Murphy (Balla Philip, NB) missed a wide-open net on a rebound from a Kiana Wilkinson (Prince George, BC) shot, and Siobhan Birch (Mississauga, ON) had a low backhand shot that went just wide of the net.
The first period ended with the Huskies up 1-0.
The second period was much of the same, with Saint Mary's outshooting Moncton 10-3. Miscommunication on both teams led to lots of turnovers without much sustained pressure, and both teams went scoreless in the second frame.
Multiple penalties made for an interesting third period. The Huskies, pressing for a goal, had shots that rang off the iron from Wilkinson and Birch, but it took until there were two minutes left in the game to increase their lead. On the power play, Cayleigh Meraw (Red Deer, AB) lined up a slap shot that went through traffic and beat Berthiaume high.
The Aigles Bleues pulled their goalie for an extra attacker in the final minutes, but couldn't get any scoring chances and the game ended 2-0 for the Huskies.
The Subway Player of the Game for Saint Mary's was Cayleigh Meraw. For the Aigles Bleues, it was Audrey Berthiaume, who faced 32 shots in the game.
Game two of the series will be played on February 17 at 4:00 p.m. in Moncton. If needed, the teams will return to Halifax for game three on February 19 at 7:00 p.m.
Sarah Moore, SMU
Photo Nick Pearce