Halifax, NS - The AUS most valuable player, Tyra Meropoulis (Edson, AB) scored twice to lead the StFX X-Women past the U SPORTS No. 1 ranked Saint Mary's Huskies 4-2 in Game 1 of the AUS championship series at the Dauphinee Centre on Tuesday night.
The opening period seemed destined to end scoreless, as neither team was able to establish much offensively, despite a high-octane pace which saw several chances off the rush, but most were either blocked or missed the net.
Meropoulis broke the deadlock at 16:12 with a power-play marker, lifting a rebound over a sprawling Rebecca Clark (Keswick, ON). The X-Women had the 5-on-4 advantage after Huskies captain Kiana Wilkinson (Prince George, BC) negated a Meropoulis breakaway attempt by getting her stick in the mid-section.
The middle frame saw the X-Women take control of the play in the early going, peppering Rebecca Clark with shots. Just under four minutes in, StFX took advantage of an offensive zone turnover by the Huskies, resulting in a 3-on-1 break that was converted on by Meropoulis for her second snipe of the game.
Things looked bleak for the Huskies, as they were hemmed into their own zone for long stretches, largely due to bad breakout passes and turnovers. However, it only took one shot to get them back in the game and came from the stick of third year forward Katie Peddle (Labrador City, NL).
Peddle skated in over the blue line and unloaded a slapshot from the left faceoff circle, which handcuffed Jamie Johnson (Victoria, BC), making it a 2-1 game.
It was more of the same in the third period, as the X-Women continued to pour shots on goal, forcing Huskies goaltender Clark to make three magnificent saves in the first three minutes.
A few minutes later, StFX would put the game on ice. Lea McLeod (Dartmouth, NS) skated down the left side unloaded a sizzling snapshot over the blocker of Clark to make it 3-1, which proved to be the game-winner.
Saint Mary's made things interesting just after the midway point of the period, as Miranda Hatt (Eastern Passage, NS) tipped in a point shot from Kiana Wilkinson to pull the Huskies to within one.
The X-Women added an insurance marker late in the game – with just 1:17 remaining as the AUS award winner for best defensive player, Lydia Schurman (Summerside, PE), rifled a centering-pass that banked off the shin pads of Carly Burrows (New Glasgow, NS) and trickled through Clark's five-hole.
The X-Women outshot the Huskies by a whopping 33-14 margin.
Tyra Meropoulis was named Subway player of the game.
Game 2 of the best-of-three series goes Thursday night in Antigonish, where the X-Women look to wrap things up on home ice and win their first AUS championship in five years.
Game 3, if necessary, will be back at the Dauphinee Centre on Saturday night.
Courtesy Drew McConnell, SMU Sports Information