(CHARLOTTETOWN, PE) The UNB REDS dropped a 2-0 decision to the Saskatchewan Huskies on Sunday, in the bronze medal game at the U SPORTS Women's Hockey Championship, in Charlottetown.
"This group has come so far in a short amount of time," said REDS forward Ashley Stratton. "It's exciting to see, honestly. It wasn't the result that we wanted, but at the end of the day, we've accomplished so much in a short period of time, and you know we're all just so very proud of each other."
The Huskies opened the scoring at 7:51 of the first period when Kendra Zuchotzki's blast from the point evaded REDS' goalie Kendra Woodland.
Late in the period, with UNB short-handed, UNB's Payton Hargreaves was sprung on a breakaway, but she was unable to get a decent shot away.
The Huskies took that 1-0 lead to the intermission.
UNB began the second period on the powerplay and generated a few chances, but were unable to score.
About four minutes in, UNB's Melanie Drost was sent in alone on Saskatchewan goalie Camryn Drever, but fired her shot high and over the net.
About five minutes later, Katherine Chadwick went in on a breakaway. She fired a shot just wide of the Huskies' net.
Despite relentless REDS pressure, the Huskies added to their lead with just under six minutes to play in the second. Jasper Desmarais led a three on one charge into the REDS zone and fired a wrist shot that snuck in on the short side.
The REDS continued their push in the third period, but couldn't solve the Huskies defence or Drever.
"All tournament, I don't know that we played a full 60 minutes of REDS hockey," said REDS captain Paige Grenier. "I think our third periods were fantastic, but at that point, as showcased in our last two games, it's too little, too late. We have some work to do in the off-season to get back here."
Saskatchewan outshot the REDS 25-17.
"There was some little mishaps here and there, but at the end of the day, I think they outworked us," said Stratton. "We didn't play REDS hockey. We had a couple of moments here and there, but we didn't pull a full 60, which is unfortunate."
The end of the season means the REDS will graduate a number of players, which made today's loss even more difficult.
"Any time it's the final game for some people it means a bit more," said Grenier. "We're losing some incredible and very special people, and so it's definitely hard in that regard, to feel like you came up short to get them that bronze medal that they very much deserved."
In the end, the UNB women leave their first national championship with a 1-and-2 record.
Grenier says the experience will fuel the REDS' off-season.
"That's our entire motivation next year. In my opinion, it's come to nationals or bust, and once we get to nationals, it's medal or bust, for next year," she said. "I think that's a feeling that everyone that's coming back next year has, is going to fuel all the girls that are going to be new. We're going to be better. I think you can guarantee, count on that."
RECAP BY: Andy Campbell/UNB Athletics
PHOTOS BY: Janessa Hogan and Mike Needham/for UPEI Athletics