Netminder Gabrielle Forget and her teammates made the Tommies women’s hockey squad’s final home game of the regular season one that St. Thomas University probably hopes to forget.
The fourth-year Université de Moncton Aigles Bleues goalie stopped all 30 Tommies shots in a 2-0 victory on Friday night at Grant-Harvey Centre.
The Tommies (17-4-3) then edged the University of Prince Edward Island Panthers 4-3 Saturday night in Charlottetown to clinch a first-round playoff bye.
Forget’s several key saves and the Aigles Bleues’ 10 blocked shots put UdeM (8-12-4) over the top on Friday as the Tommies dominated their visiting rivals from across New Brunswick, but failed to score on several quality chances.
“[The win] feels good,” Forget said in French as teammate Julie Theriault translated.
“Everyone worked together.”
Aigles Bleues upset Tommies
Friday’s loss marked the third time in the 2016-17 Atlantic University Sport season that the Tommies were shut out.
The Aigles Bleues, on the other hand, got their first regulation win over STU this year. UdeM downed the Tommies 2-1 in a shootout on Oct. 28 before dropping a 4-2 decision on Nov. 19 and falling 4-0 to the Tommies on Nov. 23.
“We got better as the season went on,” said Forget.
“We learned and grew from our mistakes, and this was our last [regular season] game, so we really wanted to win.”
For Tommies head coach Peter Murphy, the shutout loss at home resulted from karma living up to its reputation.
“We ended up with the same thing here,” he said, comparing Forget’s performance to that of STU goalie Taylor Cook almost three months ago in Moncton.
Eleven minutes into the opening frame, Cook tried to stop a shot from UdeM forward Judyane Bernier that flew over her and landed in the net behind her for a fluke goal that got the Aigles Bleues on the board.
At 3:30 in the second period, another puck got by Cook that she likely wanted to have back. The tall, athletic third-year goaltender stopped most of UdeM forward Karine Roy’s shot from the hashmarks, but it bounced off the left side of her chest and beat her.
The Tommies outshot the Aigles Bleues 10-2 after period one and 19-7 following the second before holding UdeM to three shots in the third while peppering Forget with 11 of their own, but they couldn’t faze the fourth-year netminder.
Nine of those shots came from Tommies captain Kelty Apperson, a talented fifth-year winger who didn’t skip a beat after returning home Thursday from a stint with Team Canada at the 2017 Winter Universiade in Almaty, Kazakhstan.
Apperson had the lone goal for Canada in a 4-1 loss to Team Russia in the women’s hockey gold medal game on Monday, Feb. 6.
“Jetlag doesn’t affect that kid, I guess,” Murphy said about the fifth-year player who was honoured along with graduating rearguard Eliza Snider and fellow forward Myf Thomson before the puck dropped Friday night.
Apperson, Snider and Thomson were each presented with flowers, a plaque and a Tommies hockey sweater before posing for photos. Then they accompanied their teammates and fans at an informal post-game banquet to welcome Apperson home and celebrate another solid regular season as well as recognize the Tommies’ grads.
Cook made eight saves on 10 shots in the Tommies’ losing effort, while Forget picked up the shutout for the Aigles Bleues.
Neither team scored on the man advantage.
Tommies claw past Panthers
STU forward Alisha Gilbert struck first at 4:47 in the first period before Jenna Pellerin answered for UPEI (14-9-1) more than a minute later.
Alex Woods restored the Tommies’ cushion with a power play marker at 18:20 while Panthers defender Madison Clarke was off for tripping.
Panthers forward Faith Steeves tied it again almost six minutes into the middle frame.
Apperson put STU back in control with her trademark wrister from the point on a man advantage at 11:22 after UPEI blueliner Kristen MacIntyre got a major penalty and game misconduct for checking from behind.
Emily Oleksuk notched another power play goal at 12:58 to put STU up 4-2.
Forward Rachel Colle’s shot got through traffic and past Tommies goalie Abby Clarke at 17:17 to bring UPEI within three, but that’s as close as the Panthers would come.
Clarke turned aside 21 of the Panthers’ 24 shots for the win, while Marie-Soleil Deschenes made 31 saves on STU’s 35 shots in the losing effort.
STU scored on three out of five power plays, while UPEI went 0-for-4.
The Tommies have a bye week for the AUS quarterfinals, but they return to action on Friday, Feb. 24 at Grant-Harvey Centre for Game 1 of the semis against the highest-ranked team remaining after the first round. Puck drop is at 7 p.m.
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