Greeted first by broadcasters from the local radio station and then by the flurry of bright pink both on and off the ice in support of breast cancer, the excitement and importance of the season opener for the STU Women’s Hockey team was impressive.
The green and gold were ready to match their opponents in maroon from Mt. Allison University (MTA). The STU team skated onto the ice for their individual player introductions led by their captain, Kayla Blackmore donning a pink helmet and the honorary puck-drop by STU President and Vice-Chancellor, Dawn Russell, marked the official start to the women’s hockey season.
Before the game even began, there were predictions from the bench that it would not be an easy game since the last time STU faced MTA on Sept. 30; STU’s victory was a miraculous comeback in the last minutes of the game.
STU started, as usual with high-energy and determination, but were equally matched by the aggression, speed, power and alertness of the Mt. Allison opponents. Mt. Allison’s defense was so tight that it was hard to complete any passing plays, and there was definitely no chance to ease up on the fight for the puck if STU had any chance of overcoming MTA’s control over the game. Katie Brewster and Manuela Hebel showed their keen abilities to intercept the strong MTA offence, but could not get past a smart goalkeeper, who buried the puck in the safety of her pads.
It was a challenging game with powerful shots on goal, aggressive fights to gain control of the puck and exciting power-play action. Both teams were able to slow the pace of the game during their offensive control, passing around the perimeter patiently and looking for the optimum shot opportunities.
Both teams were also highly adept at defensively killing their opponent’s power-play advantages. But it was MTA who first capitalized on the power play advantage; the congestion to one side of the net, left the opposite side open to easily tip the puck into the goal.
Kayla Blackmore hustled to lead her team in the fight to overcome this goal deficit, but faced an unfortunate collision with the boards, which kept her lying on the ice in serious pain. Quick medical attention lifted her off the ice on a stretcher.
The first period ended with the relief of a much-needed break to refocus the team mentally, emotionally and physically strategize the absence of their team leader.
After the first period, the Tommies came back on the ice ready to challenge their opponents in every way, dominating the rest of the game with their speed and determination.
The Tommies got many shots to the goalkeepers, but nothing into the crease. Finally, the hustle of the STU players leveled the score at 1-1 with Erin MacIsaac’s powerful shot which was assisted by Jenna Scott went right through the goalie in the middle of the 3rd period. Renata Mastna’s shot assisted by Danielle Miller to the top left corner of the net clinched STU a 2-1 victory in overtime.
The Tommies travel to Moncton next weekend to take on UDEM.