Antigonish, NS – In pre-season exhibition play, the visiting Saint Mary's Huskies defeated the hometown StFX X-Women by a 2-0 score Friday evening.
The Huskies dominated the first period of play both territorially and on the shot clock (16-5); however, they were unable to beat rookie X netminder, Jamie Johnson (Victoria, BC). SMU came out in full force with veteran Taylor Keeping (Hacketts Cove, NS) firing the first of many salvos at the X net. The early pressure led to the first powerplay of the game. Juniors Alexa McMillan (Edmonton, AB) and Laura Horwood (Grandfalls-Windsor, NL) had a number of give-and-go passes on the power-play but, they were unable to get a good shot from the open space created.
StFX were able to weather the storm and ended the first period with back-to-back power plays. Veteran X-Women defender Santana Gravelle (Lumsden, SK) fired a low hard shot on net, but Dagny Hudspeth (Burlington, ON) was equal to the task. Lydia Schurman (Summerside, PEI), who played well throughout the game, looked most likely to create a scoring chance, but Saint Mary's penalty killers were well-positioned to see out the danger.
The X-Women found themselves back on the power-play once again early in the second period. Sophomore Kaya Broussard (North Vancouver, BC) had the best chance when she shot low on Hudspeth to force a good save. With X starting to look better offensively, rookie Huskies forward Ellen Laurence (Kentville, NS) was excellent on the penalty kill to help keep the score level.
SMU found themselves back on the power-play as the game approached the halfway mark and, after their 20th shot on net, finally scored. They moved the puck around nicely when captain Kiana Wilkinson (Prince George, BC) rifled a high wrist shot through traffic and past a screened Johnson. Siobhan Birch (Mississauga, ON) and Eve Leblanc (Petit-Rocher, NB) drew the assists.
The X-Women had a good spell following the Huskies goal with the impressive Chloe Vukosa (Mississauga, ON) getting a good shot on net that forced Rebecca Clark (Keswick, ON) to make a key save just minutes after she had entered the game. StFX had a four-minute penalty at the tail end of the period, but could not beat veteran Clark. Lea MacLeod (Dartmouth, NS) showed great ingenuity and skill on the power-play and was able to take a good shot from the high slot for X's best chance of the advantage. Shots after two periods favoured Saint Mary's at 21-16, but StFX had the 9-5 edge during the frame.
SMU continued to take the play to X at the start the third period. Veteran Birch was excellent on the opening shift as she quickly put StFX on the back foot and in their own zone. Just 2:27 into the period SMU were back on the power-play. Their man-advantage started with a blocked shot by StFX's Carly Burrows (New Glasgow, NS), who raced down the ice and some 'street-smart' defending by Alexa McMillan (Edmonton, AB) prevented Burrows from getting a good shot away. SMU were soon able to make their pressure count as Mary MacDonald (Edmonton, AB) found herself with enough time to get a shot away from in tight on Johnson just as their power-play had expired. Wilkinson and Miranda Hatt (Eastern Passage, NS) made the accurate passes to create the goal.
While the X-Women were able to put a couple of good shifts together in search of a goal, with defender Amy Graham (Nepean, ON) playing aggressively in order to create offence, they were unable to gain any sustained pressure. SMU's composed play, with the defensive pairing of Carleigh Meraw (Red Deer AB) and Alexa McMillan especially impressive, were able to secure the 2-0 road victory over their archrival. Final shots on net were 33-21.
The two teams will be right back in action Saturday night when they face-off in Halifax at 7:00 pm in another exhibition tangle.
Recap courtesy Bart Sears
Photos courtesy Bryan Kennedy