Matt Johnson, Huskie Athletics
SASKATOON – The University of Saskatchewan Huskies women's hockey team opened up their postseason with a convincing 5-0 victory over the Mount Royal Cougars in game one of the best-of-three series on Friday, Feb. 19 at Merlis Belsher Place.
"It was important for us to get a good start," said Huskies head coach Steve Kook. "If we don't manage the puck against these guys, they're so quick at turning it around and going back the other way, which turns into opportunities for them. The big thing was managing the puck and not tossing the puck through the middle."
As they did throughout the regular season, the Huskies continued to receive production from the backend with Kayla Kirwan and Morgan Willoughby each registering a goal and an assist in the victory, while Leah Bohlken added two helpers. Nicole Fry scored her first-career goal as a Huskie, while Bailee Bourassa snapped a six-game drought with a beautiful backhander. Emily Upgang also found the back of the net to round out the scoring.
Jessica Vance was equal to the task all night long as the third-year netminder turned aside all 19 shots she faced.
Zoe DeBeauville allowed four goals on 21 shots in 33:02 of action. Emma Pincott entered in relief and stopped 10 of 11 shots between the pipes for the Cougars.
At 7:12 of the opening frame, Willoughby scored the first-ever playoff goal in Merlis Belsher Place, as the fourth-year defenceman found the back of the net for the second time in as many games with a blast from the blueline that snuck through a screened DeBeauville.
Saskatchewan outshot Mount Royal 12-6 in the opening frame. The visitors had opportunities to get on the score sheet, but Vance swallowed up all six of their looks on net.
The second period was an offensive explosion for the Huskies. Fry got the barrage started at 7:33 of the frame after her blast from the hash marks made its way past DeBeauville.
The goals continued to come just minutes later after Chloe Smith's wrister towards the net was initially stopped by DeBeauville but the second-year forward crashed hard to the cage and freed up the puck for Upgang who was there to clean up the trash and make it 3-0 in favor of Saskatchewan.
Kayla Kirwan scored the third goal of the period for the Huskies when her rocket from the point found the back of the net to give the home side a four-goal lead, which spelled the end of the night for DeBeauville.
Saskatchewan dominated the second period from beginning to end, with the visitors being outshot 11-6 in the period.
The Huskies added their fifth goal of the night when Bourassa corralled the puck from her skates, kicked it up to her stick and roofed a beautiful backhand goal past a screened Pincott to end the scoring.
Saskatchewan and Mount Royal will take the ice for game two of the best-of-three series tomorrow at 7:00 p.m. at Merlis Belsher Place. The Cougars will be fighting for their playoff lives and will need a victory on Saturday to force game three. Meanwhile, the Huskies have an opportunity to close out the series and punch their ticket to the Canada West semifinal.