Game recap by Kirk Jessome
(Halifax, NS) – Dropping the puck on the 2019-20 AUS women's hockey season, the Dalhousie Tigers hosted their cross-town rival Saint Mary's Huskies at the Halifax Forum. An explosive second period led to a tight one, but the Huskies were able to come away with the 4-3 win.
The Huskies opened the game with a flurry of pressure in the attacking end with an early two-on-one chance with a great pass coming from Miranda Hatt (Regina, SK) across the slot for a one-time chance for Shae Demale (Red Deer, AB), but Fabiana Petricca (Woodbridge, ON) was able to slide across for a great opening save.
The presence of the Huskies was relentless in the opening frame. Holding most of the time of possession, the Huskies quickly generated 17 shots on goal in the first 10 minutes of action.
The Tigers were able to settle into a power play opportunity and hold some attacking pressure to get a few looks toward the goal, but none were too threatening.
It looked as though the Tigers were going to survive the period, but with just seconds left on the clock, a turnover at the blueline gave Kaitlin Howarth (Thunder Bay, ON) some room for a low wrist shot that was perfectly tipped in front by Siobhan Birch (Mississauga, ON) through the five-hole to give the Huskies a 1-0 lead at the break.
The Huskies opened the period exactly how they ended it, however, as a miscue on a dump-in left Petricca trying to collect the puck behind the net as it bounced back into the crease, leaving a wide open cage for Mary McDonald (Calgary, AB) to tap the puck home.
After working hard in the defensive end, the Tigers were finally rewarded with an offensive opportunity when Kennedy Whelan (Alliston, ON) broke into the attack end along the right boards. Whelan took a tough angle shot that was stopped, but the rebound landed in the crease for Whelan to lift just over the pad of Rebecca Clark (Keswick, ON) to make it 2-1.
On another power play opportunity, the Huskies were able to answer back in the period. The rebound from a hard shot from Kiana Wilkinson (Prince George, BC) was pushed into the corner but Taylor Keeping (Hackett's Cove, NS) quickly picked it up and made a nifty move on the wraparound to push the Huskies back up by two.
It didn't take long for the Tigers to get the goal back, however, when a deflection in front left Kaela Thomson (Norwalk, CT) alone in front of the net for a quick rebound opportunity and tucked it in for her first career AUS goal.
The Tigers got revenge for the late goal in the first period, as Danika Phillips (Barrie, ON) hopped out of the penalty box and found the puck on her stick for a breakaway. Phillips came down the right side, made a great deke to get from the forehand to the backhand while avoiding the poke-check from Clarke and tucked the puck high over the blocker for a beautiful goal to tie it up.
The shots were 43-12 for the Huskies, but at the end of the second period, it was even at 3-3.
It was the Huskies who were able to break the deadlock on another power play opportunity. Brooke Murphy (Balla Phillip, NB) was able to make a great deflection on a long shot from the point that managed to get through the crowd in front to give her team the 4-3 lead midway through the final frame.
After struggling to get the puck out of their own end throughout the third period, the Tigers had one last opportunity late in the game with Petricca pulled, but time ran out for the Tigers and the Huskies held on for the 4-3 victory.
The box score definitely did not reflect the full story in this one, as Fabiana Petricca finished with an incredible 59 saves in the game to earn herself the Subway Player of the Game title.
The Tigers will look to bounce back on Sunday when they hit the road to take on StFX, while the Huskies will have their home opener in their new stadium on Saturday against Moncton.