Women’s hockey forces tiebreaker in semifinals

The Tommies and St. Francis Xavier University X-Women will wait until Tuesday night to find out if they’ll play for a conference title or not.

St. Thomas University got a 2-0 victory over StFX in a hard-fought Game 2 on Sunday night in Antigonish, N.S. to tie the Atlantic University Sport women’s hockey semifinals at one game apiece.

STU’s biggest win of the season followed a 6-2 loss to the X-Women on Friday, Feb. 24 on home ice.

A slow first period helped get StFX past the Tommies Friday night, but it was the other way around Sunday as STU scored early and doubled the lead later.

Paige Jackson struck first at 2:24 in the opening stanza on a power play while StFX defender Emma Winters was off for holding.

The Tommies outshot the X-Women 10-6 in the first 20 minutes, while StFX had 11 shots compared to five for STU in the second, which was scoreless. Shots on goal in the third favoured the X-Women 9-7.

Almost 18 minutes into the third frame, Tommies forward Lauren Henman split the StFX defense and deked goalie Ariana Orasanin before beating her with a shot that ended the X-Women’s hopes of sweeping the best-of-three series in front of their 388 fans.

Third-year STU goalie Abby Clarke earned the shutout with 26 saves, while Orasanin turned aside 20 of the Tommies’ 22 shots in the losing effort.

STU scored once on four power plays, while StFX was 0-for-5.

In Friday’s contest, STU made a strong push to tie the game in the final two frames after coming out flat in the first 20 minutes, but the Tommies fell short.

The X-Women scored twice in less than three minutes in the first. After forward Kara Power forced a turnover beside the Tommies’ net, STU goalie Taylor Cook stopped her, but Daley Oddy poked a rebound shot past her at 8:26.

Nicole Halladay’s point shot at 11:22 put StFX up 2-0, but it was deflected past Cook by one of her own teammates.
The Tommies stormed out the gate after the intermission for what was a scoreless middle frame.

STU’s late pressure continued in the third, when the Tommies and X-Women traded goals twice in as many minutes.
Henman scored at 3:13, when she banked the puck in off the back of Orasanin’s right pad with a shot from behind the net.
Lindsey Donovan answered for the X-Women seven seconds later off the ensuing faceoff. Her shot from 30 feet away from Cook sailed over her glove to restore the two-goal cushion.

Jenna MacDonald crashed the Tommies’ net and knocked the puck past Cook at 4:15. She was penalized for goalie interference on the play, but the 4-1 StFX goal stood because her shot beat Cook moments before they collided.

Jessie McCann made MacDonald pay at 4:49. Her wrister from the point got through traffic and past Orasanin.

Heather Tillsley added a shorthanded empty-netter at 17:48. She shot from halfway through the StFX zone while Cook was off after MacDonald headed to the sin bin to serve a bench minor for too many players on the ice 39 seconds earlier.

Power’s wrist shot in the slot beat Cook high on her glove side with 6.9 seconds left.
Cook turned aside 15 of 20 StFX shots in the losing effort.

The Tommies buried once on six power plays, while the X-Women failed to capitalize on the four times STU was shorthanded.

The deciding game between the Tommies and X-Women goes Tuesday, Feb. 28. Puck drop is at 7 p.m. at Grant-Harvey Centre.

In the other series, the Saint Mary’s University Huskies and Université de Moncton Aigles Bleues were also tied at one game apiece. UdeM edged SMU 2-1 Saturday in Game 2 after the Huskies took a 3-2 decision Thursday in Game 1.

Game 3 of that series was Monday night in Halifax. Results weren’t available at press time.

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