Antigonish, NS – The U SPORTS No 4. ranked StFX X-Women clinched first place in the AUS standings with a 6-2 victory over the Dalhousie Tigers Friday night at the Charles V. Keating Centre.
The X-Women (20-2-2) have 42 points in first place, three ahead of second place Saint Mary's (19-3-1) who, with one game remaining against Moncton tomorrow, can't catch the X-Women.
The Tigers (12-11-0) wrap up the season with 24 points in fourth place.
The X-Women exploded for six goals in the second period in the victory. Subway player of the game and first star Kristen McKinley (Rothesay, NB) and second star Patti-Anne Tracey (Antigonish, NS) each scored two goals for StFX.
After the first period got off to a tentative start, each team exchanged power play opportunities but were unable to capitalize.
The X-Women had a pair of good chances late in the period off shots from Emily Power (Airdrie, AB) and McKinley but were turned aside by Tigers goaltender Fabiana Petricca (Woodbridge, ON).
Shots in the opening went in the X-Women's favour at 10-4.
StFX thought they had taken the lead in the game just over a minute into the second period but the goal was called back after the on-ice officials determined an X-Women player had left the penalty box early before a carry-over penalty from the first period had expired.
Just at the end of the Tigers power play X-Women captain Daley Oddy (Cranbrook, BC) broke free alone on Petricca but the netminder poke checked the puck away for the stop.
Freshman forward Emerson Elliott (Aurora, ON) then had her own breakaway attempt minutes late but Petricca came up with the toe save to keep the puck out of the net.
The StFX pressure resulted in an offensive explosion as they scored four goals within three minutes to establish a convincing 4-0 lead midway through the period.
The first one came at 6:26 from McKinley after Jenna MacDonald (Osgoode, ON) dug the puck out and got it out front to the freshman forward as she shoveled it into the Tigers net.
Tracey scored her first goal of the night at 8:38. X-Women defense Amy Graham (Nepean, ON) had a shot blocked in the slot and Tracey picked up the loose puck, blasting a high shot past Petricca.
Tigers netminder Jessica Severeyns (Hammonds Plains, NS) replaced Petricca in the DAL net following the third X-Women goal.
Unfortunately for the Tigers the scoring did not stop as McKinley solved Severeyns on her first shot of the game, beating her up high after circling around the face-off circle and finding some open ice in front of the net. That goal came at 9:16 to end the four-goal charge in the three-minute time span.
The X-Women added two more before the period was up. Tracey scored her second goal of the game at 16:25, potting a rebound off a Power shot. Lydia Schurman (Summerside, PE) also assisted.
Elliott rounded out the scoring with 2:20 left in the period. After strong forechecking by the X-Women kept the puck in the Tigers end, Lindsey Donovan (Mirimichi, NB) unleashed a shot from the point and Severeyns couldn't smother the puck on the save as Emerson poked it in.
Shots were a lopsided 22-4 in favour of StFX in the second frame.
The Tigers broke the goose egg in the third period off back-to-back goals from veteran forward Jesse Rietveld (Pelham, ON). Her first came unassisted 4:46 into the period as she picked up the puck off a mid-ice turnover and broke in alone, beating X goalie Cassidy McEwan (Lloydminster, AB) low on the blocker side.
Rietveld tallied unassisted again at 9:20 as she steered the puck into the StFX end, and using an X-Women defense as a screen wristed a shot in between the pads of McEwan.
Rietveld's two-goal effort earned her third star recognition as the X-Women held on for the 6-2 victory.
McEwan earned the win in the X net with 13 saves as the X-Women outshot the visiting Tigers 40-15.
StFX, with their first place finish, clinch a bye into the AUS semifinal playoff round. They will await their opponent for the best-of-3 series after the quarter-finals.
The quarter-final match-ups will be sorted out following the results of the three games remaining on the AUS regular season schedule for Saturday. One of the games includes Dalhousie hosting UPEI in Halifax at 7:00 pm.
Vying for the quarter-final playoff positions are St. Thomas, Moncton, Dalhousie and UPEI. Saint Mary's has clinched the other first round bye.
StFX will host Game 1 of the semifinals on Wednesday, February 21st at 7:00 pm. Tickets are now on sale at the Keating Centre box office or online at www.goxgo.ca/tickets.
Courtesy StFX Sports Information