Women’s hockey finishes season first in the league

St. Thomas University lost 4-1 against St. Francis Xavier University. (Shannon Cornelius/AQ)

The St. Thomas University women’s hockey team finished their regular season with a loss against St. Francis Xavier University 4-1 on Feb. 8 and a win against Dalhousie University 5-2 on Feb. 9. Despite the loss, the Tommies ended their season first in the league, giving them a first round bye in the playoffs.

Going up against the X-Women, the Tommies struggled in the first period, being outshot 11-5. StFX was all over the Tommies, jumping to a 3-0 lead after the first period.

In the second period, STU still couldn’t gain momentum. Goalie Abby Clarke was solid in the net, keeping the deficit the same. Clarke stopped all 14 shots in the second period. However, the Tommies couldn’t put the puck in the back of the X-Women’s net.

An early goal from Alisha Gilbert in the third period gave the Tommies the energy they needed. STU held on to possession of the puck for the majority of the third period, getting shots on the net but they couldn’t get past the StFX goalie, giving the X-Women the 4-1 win.

The Tommies controlled the puck for most of the third quarter against St. Francis Xavier University. (Shannon Cornelius/AQ)

Gilbert had the lone goal for the Tommies and Clarke stopped 24 shots made by the X-Women.

Head coach Peter Murphy said the Tommies played well although they didn’t win.

“Their first goal was off a bad break and that rattled us for a few minutes and they were able to capitalize on a couple more chances,” Murphy said in an email.

“After that, we settled in and played pretty well for the rest of the game.”

STU dominated early in their game against the Tigers. Olivia Reid scored just 25 seconds into the game off captain Emily Oleksuk’s pass. It didn’t take long for the Tigers to answer back, tying up the score just three minutes later when a shot got past goalie Taylor Cook. The game remained at one goal for each team during the first period, but STU outshot Dalhousie 14-8.

A steady second period gave the Tommies all they needed for a victory. Halfway through the period, Danielle Ring passed to Stephanie Ford in a 2-on-1 situation. Ford had no trouble burying the puck in the back of the net. With just minutes remaining in the period, Oleksuk scored on the power play giving the Tommies a 3-1 lead going into the final period.

The Tommies finished first in the league and now have a first round bye in playoffs. (Shannon Cornelius/AQ)

Reid made another early-period goal, this time just 15 seconds in. Oleksuk and Lauren Henman assisted. The Tommies maintained the pressure, with Gilbert finding the puck in a scramble and extending the Tommies’ lead. The Tigers got one more before the game ended, banking in a rebound, but it wasn’t enough, giving the Tommies the 5-2 win.

Oleksuk led the Tommies with a goal and a pair of assists, with Reid scoring two. Cook stopped 25 of 27 shots.

STU finished their regular season on top of the AUS standings, with a 25-5-1.

Murphy was impressed with the team’s comeback after their loss against StFX.

“We talked about playing our game and ensuring we had good habits heading into the playoffs. The girls did a great job of this today and the result showed with the win,” said Murphy.

“We are excited for the playoffs to begin in a couple of weeks.”