REDS Rally Late to Beat Huskies

The REDS celebrate their victory over the Saint Mary's Huskies in game 4 of the AUS Semi-Finals. (PHOTO BY: Eduardo Ibarra / Saint Mary's Athletics)
The REDS celebrate their victory over the Saint Mary's Huskies in game 4 of the AUS Semi-Finals. (PHOTO BY: Eduardo Ibarra / Saint Mary's Athletics)

(HALIFAX, NS) The UNB REDS are heading back to the Atlantic University Sport women's hockey championship series for the third consecutive year. The REDS rallied late to defeat the Saint Mary's Huskies 2-1 on Monday night at the Dauphinee Centre.

"It was a special night for this group," said UNB interim head coach Kyle MacDonald. "There was nothing but confidence in the dressing room before the third period. We had a strong belief that bounces would come our way if we seized our opportunities."

Jorja Nystrom (Leduc, AB) scored the game-winning goal for the REDS in a thrilling third period.

"I think the biggest difference tonight was that we did the little things right and came together as a team to come out with a win," said Nystrom. "It's huge to play for another AUS title. With this program being in its sixth year back and having made AUS finals three times is unbelievable."

Kendra Woodland (Kamloops, BC) had an outstanding performance in net for UNB. The REDS' netminder turned aside 34 of 35 shots in the series-clinching game.

"There's a quiet confidence that comes with getting exceptional goaltending all season long from Cassie McCallum and Kendra Woodland," said MacDonald. "The stability Kendra provided us this series got us through some challenging moments."

The game began with a defensive standoff, as both sides refused to yield an inch, resulting in a scoreless first period.

It was Ashley Penney (Lawrencetown, NS) who finally broke the deadlock late in the second period for the Huskies. On the power play, Jillian Duggan (Halifax, NS) centered a no-look pass out in front to a wide-open Penney, who made no mistake in putting the puck past an outstretched Woodland to make it 1-0.

The Huskies would carry the 1-0 lead into the third period.

Sydney Oitomen (Mississauga, ON) scored the equalizing goal for the REDS at 11:33 of the third period. Just seconds after successfully killing off a 5-on-3 power play, Oitomen, on a two-on-one break, fired home a pass from Payton Hargreaves (Whitby, ON) to tie the game, 1-1.

"I think we all looked at each other and knew we had more to give going into the third period," said Hargreaves. "We knew we had to play for the women sitting next to us. We also had a team goal of sacrifice and that's exactly how our game showed tonight."

Then with two minutes left, Nystrom found herself open in the slot and was able to corral her own rebound and backhand the puck over the glove of Huskies goalie Ridleigh Hansen (Red Deer, AB), giving the REDS the 2-1 lead.

"The recipe for success on the game-winning goal started with our forecheck," said MacDonald. "Rylee Strohm created a turnover, Sydney Oitomen got the puck to the net, and Jorja Nystrom was determined to make sure it went in."

UNB would hold on to that lead, securing the win and clinching the series, 3-1.

With the victory Monday night, UNB has also clinched a spot in the U SPORTS Championship tournament in Saskatoon, March 14-17.

The REDS will now await their opponent in the AUS Championship series, as the STFX X-Women and St. Thomas Tommies battle in the other AUS semi-final.

"It means the world for us to be playing for another AUS title for the third year in a row," said Hargreaves. "It's such a big accomplishment not only for this team but also this program after only being reinstated for a short amount of time. It's also yet another chance to prove ourselves as contenders against other U SPORTS teams."


RECAP BY: Evan Richtsfeld/ UNB Athletics

PHOTOS BY: Eduardo Ibarra / Saint Mary's Athletics