(Charlottetown, PE) Saint Mary's forward Taylor Keeping played big in front of the net and was rewarded with two third-period goals, as the Huskies downed the UPEI Panthers 2-1 in AUS women's hockey action.
The Huskies' offence was hindered by seven penalties in the first two periods, but came back stronger in the third where they delivered a couple blows in the comeback effort.
"The first two periods were really frustrating with all the penalties and everything we were going through," said Keeping, who was named the Subway Player of the Game. "But we really just dug down, fought through the frustration and played until the end."
Saint Mary's (15-7-1) put on a defensive clinic in the first, as their penalty kill shutdown four Panther power plays and limited their opportunities. UPEI (11-10-1) struggled to get quality shots off, but still carried a 7-3 shot advantage in a scoreless first.
The home team had a great chance to get on the board with a two-man advantage three and half minutes into the second. However, that was quickly undone after Jolena Gillard was called for body checking.
At 12:20, the referees awarded UPEI's Taylor Gillis a penalty shot after she was hauled down on a breakaway. As Gillis stickhandled her way toward the net, Ashley Forler flattened out and made the left pad save to keep the game scoreless. Forler made 26 saves in her seventh start and improved her record to 6-1.
Three minutes later, captain Emma Weatherbie finally put her Panthers ahead after finishing a great give-and-go with Kaylee Dufresne down the middle of the ice.
The Huskies made a strong push to open the third and quickly tied it up. At 1:57, Keeping redirected Eve LeBlanc's shot from the blue line past Camille Scherger.
"That's usually what I do," Keeping quipped. "I stand in front of the net and try to take the goalie's eyes away. And as long as we get pucks there, I'm willing to whack in anything that's sitting there."
UPEI's struggles on the power play (where they finished 0-of-8) came back to haunt them midway through the period. With the man-advantage, Keeping put her team ahead 2-1 with her second goal of the night as she buried home a long rebound off Kiana Wilkinson's blue line slap shot.
"After the first two periods, it feels good to grab this one," she said.
Saint Mary's takes on UNB tomorrow at 3 p.m. in Fredericton, while the Panthers travel to Fredericton for a Saturday night tilt against the St. Thomas Tommies. Puck drops at 7 p.m.
By Thomas Becker, PEI
Photo SMU (Nick Pearce)