Nicole Betker, University of Saskatchewan
SASKATOON – University of Saskatchewan alternate captain Kaitlin Willoughby netted a hat trick to lift the Huskies 4-3 over provincial rival the University of Regina Cougars in Game 1 of a Canada West women's hockey quarter-final series Friday night in Saskatoon's Rutherford Rink.
The fourth-year forward and Huskies' leading scorer throughout the regular season scored at 48 seconds and 7:32 in the second period, as well as 6:52 in the third for the hat trick.
With the win, the Huskies take the 1-0 lead in the best-of-three playoff series.
After no scoring in the first period, the teams tallied three goals in the first three minutes of the second period.
Willoughby opened the scoring just 48 seconds into the frame short-handed on an odd man rush up the ice. Willoughby got enough of the puck as she was falling to beat Jane Kish five-hole.
Merissa Zerr tied the game for the Cougars just 39 seconds later on the power play when she was on the receiving end of a pass in the slot. Her shot slid over Cassidy Hendricks shoulder stick side at 1:27. Alexis Larson gave the Cougars the lead at 3:02 on a shot from the point that made it through traffic.
Willoughby scored her second at 7:32 on the power play when a snipe on the rush into the zone flew by Kish. She added her third from the slot beating Kish stick side at 4:52 in the third.
Kori Herner added the fourth Huskie goal at 6:52 after a turnover in the neutral zone left her alone with Kish.
The Cougars made it interesting with just under four minutes left in the game after Jaycee Magwood beat Hendricks on a scramble in front of the net.
Hendricks finished the night making 29 saves for Saskatchewan in the win, while Kish stopped 24 at the other end of the ice for the Cougars.
Game 2 puck drop is slated for 7 p.m. at Rutherford Rink Saturday. Game 3, if needed, is Sunday.