Charlottetown, PE – The StFX X-Women fell 4-2 to the UPEI Panthers in a pre-season exhibition game Saturday afternoon. The Panthers built up a 3-2 lead after two periods of play and added an empty netter for the win.
X-Women head coach Ben Berthiaume noted, "I thought were really good at certain points during this game, moving our feet and controlling the game but didn't get rewarded on the score board. At other times we stopped moving our feet and thinking far too much on the offensive side and forgot that offensive opportunities come from playing hard and smart defence."
"We need to understand that this league has become very competitive and if you are not willing to put in a 60 minute effort then you are going to come out on the losing end most nights."
The home team Panthers opened the scoring midway through the first period on a goal by Maria Clinton, but the X-Women answered back less than a minute later as Emerson Elliott tallied an unassisted shorthanded marker.
Shots favoured the X-Women 12-8 in the opening period as the teams remained tied 1-1 after 20 minutes of play.
The Panthers then opened up a 3-1 lead on a pair of second period goals. Jolena Gillard scored just over seven minutes in then Faith Steeves notched a power play goal at 14:54.
The X-Women got one back with three minutes remaining in the period as Tyra Meropoulis and Lea MacLeod connected with Julia Schmitt as she found the back of the Panthers net to bring the X-Women to within one.
Shots again favoured the X-Women in the middle period at 11-9.
The third period saw both teams held scoreless as shots were fairly even with the Panthers at a slight 9-8 advantage. Rachel Colle scored the empty netter at 19:38 to seal the win for UPEI.
Panthers goaltenders Shaylin McFarlane (17 saves) and Sasha Weekes (12 saves) split the victory in the UPEI net.
Jamie Johnson had 22 saves for the X-Women who outshot the Panthers 31-26.
The game marked the final exhibition game for StFX as they prepare to start AUS regular season play. They will begin the 2019-20 season on the road with a game in Sackville, NB on Friday, October 4th against Mount Allison.
Coach Berthiuame commented, "We are looking forward to the beginning of the regular season, we have a good mix of veteran leaders and younger players. We have 19 returning players and only three first year players. The 19 returning players know what it feels like to get to the championship final in the AUS and come up short, so we definitely have a bitter taste in our mouth from that experience."
"We have lost in game 3 of the AUS championship final the last three years and we are working hard to get over that hump. When we are playing the right way, we have lots of speed up front that can create opportunities off a good forecheck."
He continued, "We have a good D core that have lots of mobility that can also get up into the play and help add to our offence. We also have a good situation in net with a good 1-2 punch that will be counted on each game. The defensive side of the game is going to be key for us this year, realizing every team in the AUS have players with lots of ability to put the puck in the net. The league has become very tight, so we really need to focus on putting together 60 minutes efforts every night."
The X-Women's home opener is on Sunday, October 6th at 2:00 pm against the Dalhousie Tigers. The game will be played at the Antigonish Arena.