U SPORTS Communications
LONDON, Ont. — A pair of power play goals lifted the Western Mustangs to a hard-fought 2-1 win over the Saskatchewan Huskies in semifinal action on Saturday afternoon at the U SPORTS Women's Hockey Championship at Thompson Arena.
"I think part of our challenge for today was the momentum, either we lost or we built through our play," said Mustangs head coach Kelly Paton. "So, five-on-five I thought they did a good job of taking away the wall option on breakout situations. In moments I think we moved the puck well, and there are other moments where I thought our decision making could have been better."
The Mustangs move on to the gold medal game tomorrow, while the Huskies will battle for bronze earlier in the day.
"Well, one-goal games aren't abnormal to us in our conference; we have 28 of them," said Huskies head coach Steve Kook. "We're used to that, we're used to playing right down to the last minute and things like that. So, from our squad I don't think there was a lot panic-wise, I thought we played really well.
"I think when you spend 19 minutes in the offensive zone in the third period and you don't get rewarded, that's disappointing in that fact. But you know what, you come to a stage like this and you play eight—there's eight real good teams here," added Kook. "You expect one-goal games. I didn't think we played very well on the kill, we lost track of the puck a couple of times, but we had our chances, we took our swings, and I think we're a good team."
April Clark and Alyssa Chiarello provided Western's two power play goals. Danielle Nogier netted the first of the night and Saskatchewan's lone goal of the game.
With two minutes left in the first period, the Mustangs fumbled with the puck in the offensive zone while on a power play. Nogier snatched it away and sped down the ice to go one-on-one with goaltender Carmen Lasis. The puck trickled through Lasis' five-hole, giving the Huskies the lead on a shorthanded goal.
"It all just happened so fast. I just do what I normally do; I'm just aggressive on the puck," said Nogier, describing the first goal of her university career. "The bounce went my way and poked out of there, and I just took advantage of that and skated down the ice. When I looked up, I saw the five-hole and just ripped it as hard as I could."
Five minutes into the second frame, the Mustangs tied the score on the power play. Clark sent the puck past Jessica Vance, converting assists from Rachel Armstrong and Amanda Pereira. Halfway through the period Western took the lead. Emma Pearson took a shot from the blue line, and Chiarello jumped on the rebound to net the Mustangs' second goal.
The Mustangs were able to protect their 2-1 lead in the final frame, even though the Huskies pulled Vance in the last couple minutes and outshot Western 9-4 in the period.
Western will play in Sunday's final, which is set for 4:00 p.m. ET/1:00 p.m. PT, while Saskatchewan will play for bronze at 1:00 p.m. ET/10:00 a.m. PT.
Players of the Game
Western: April Clark
Saskatchewan: Kaitlin Willoughby