By: Daniel Herrick, Huskie Athletics
SASKATOON – Third-year University of Saskatchewan forward Kaitlin Willoughby scored three times to lead the Huskies to a 3-0 win over the University of Manitoba Bisons Friday night at Rutherford Rink.
Willoughby tallied at 13:22 of the first and twice in the third period at 7:00 and 18:24 into an empty net to record the hat trick.
With the Game 1 victory the Huskies take a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three Canada West quarter-final series.
Not to be lost in Willougby's performance was the play of Saskatchewan netminder Cassidy Hendricks. Hendricks recorded her third career playoff shutout for the green and white coming up with 21 saves in the game. Her counterpart Rachel Dyck finished the night with 28 saves for the Bisons.
Willoughby got the Huskies off to the start they were looking for scoring just past the midway point of the first. After Lauren Zary took the puck quickly up the left boards, the two Huskie forwards found themselves on a 2-on-1. A perfect pass to Willougby in front allowed her to lift the puck over the shoulder of Dyck.
In the second period Manitoba looked for the equalizer, but could not solve Hendricks. The Huskies had a pair of chances in the second frame as well, but rang a shot off the post and missed another just wide.
Seven minutes into the third Willoughby was at it again. A nice passing play from the sticks of Leah Bohlken and Julia Flinton set up Willoughby's second of the night. Flinton's touch pass to the Prince Albert, Sask. native in the slot was finished off with a low shot to the bottom corner giving the Huskies a 2-0 lead
For her final score of the night, Willoughby picked up an errand Bison pass in the Saskatchewan end and took it just across the centre line before firing the puck into the empty net prompting the Huskie faithful to litter the ice with hats.
The two teams meet again Saturday night at Rutherford Rink. Puck drop for Game 2 is 7 p.m. If Manitoba wins the second game of the best-of-three series, Game 3 will be played Sunday night at 7 p.m.