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Panthers stymied in quarter-final loss to Carabins


Montreal blanks UPEI 3-0 to move into U Sports women’s hockey semifinal

CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. —

The dream of a U Sports women’s hockey championship is over for the UPEI Panthers after 3-0 quarter-final loss to the University of Montreal Carabins on Thursday in Charlottetown.

Camille Scherger did her best for the host Panthers, stopping 24-of-27 shots and earning UPEI’s player of the game, but couldn’t hold back the larger, faster Carabins as Alexandra Labelle and Kaleigh Quennec scored in the second period and Alexandra Paradis netted a third-period marker.

For Panthers forward Faith Steeves it came down to being out-battled by the second-ranked Carabins.

“They were really big and that was hard for us. They were super fast and we had to (deal with) their speed,” said Steeves, who had one of the Panthers better scoring chances in the second frame. “We had video (of Montreal) we watched. We played hard and tried to compete.”

The Panthers faithful was out in full force to support a hard-working squad that left it all on the ice. Several UPEI Panthers athletes from other sports were in the crowd numbering almost 1,400 at MacLauchlan Arena.

Scherger and crew kept things scoreless in the first period, despite being outshot 12-5. But that ended almost five minutes into the second when Labelle beat Scherger. Fourteen minutes later Quennec’s rebound off an Estelle Duvin attempt made it 2-0 Carabins.

Montreal Carabins forward Estelle Duvin fires a shot at the UPEI Panthers goal during the second game of the U Sports women's hockey championship Thursday at MacLauchlan Arena.
Montreal Carabins forward Estelle Duvin fires a shot at the UPEI Panthers goal during the second game of the U Sports women's hockey championship Thursday at MacLauchlan Arena.

It was 3-0 after Paradis’ goal midway through the third, but UPEI still had a chance. Taylor Gillis was hauled down by Montreal a defender late in the game while breaking for the net and was awarded a penalty shot. The first-year forward from Summerside was stopped, Montreal dodged a bullet and the Carabins defence did the rest as goalie Aube Racine tallied the shutout.

Duvin, who chipped in two assists, said the game plan paid off as Montreal moved into the semifinal round against the Guelph Griffins. Game time is 4 p.m. on Saturday.

“We wanted to be patient… make good decisions with the puck. We knew they had a good goalie and wanted to get as many chances as possible,” Duvin said though her head coach Isabelle Leclaire, who translated for the native of France. “(The win) gives us confidence for the rest of the tournament and gets us back in the game because we haven’t played for 10 days.”

With a chance at the medal round gone, the Panthers eyes turn toward finishing fifth. But it must get past the defending champ Manitoba Bisons, which lost 3-2 to the Guelph Griffins in Thursday’s opening game.

The consolation semifinal goes Saturday at 10 a.m. Win and UPEI moves into the fifth-place game, lose and it can finish no better than seventh.

So Saturday, Steeves said, the Panthers must generate more offence.

“We know we have to find the seams and go for the rebounds.”

Racine stopped all 14 shots she faced. Neither team had a power-play goal in a combined eight chances.

Labelle earned Montreal’s player of the game.

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