(FREDERICTON, NB) The University of New Brunswick Reds dropped their home and season opener 2-1 in double-overtime against the Mount Allison Mounties on Saturday night.
The game was the first game for UNB women's hockey since an 8-1 loss to Mount Allison in the AUS Quarterfinals on February 22nd, 2008, and the first home opener since October 27th, 2007.
"For them they can just take a deep breath now and just say 'Ok, I'm a U SPORTS athlete' and this is what it's going to be," said Reds head coach Sarah Hilworth. "We're in a very tough conference and I've told that to them and to everyone since day one."
The Mounties struck first, at 7:33 of the first period, on the power-play. Jessica Desautels (Oakville, ON) chipped a shot over the shoulder of goaltender Kendra Woodland (Kamloops, BC) to take the early 1-0 lead.
Julia Spitzig (Kitchener, ON) would get the first scoring chance for the Reds, gathering the puck all alone in front, but her shot just missed the left side of the net. Alayna Wagstaff (Olds, AB) would also break into the Mounties zone with speed later in the period, but was stopped by the glove of Kaitlin Mowbray (Whitby, ON).
The Reds executed a series of quick passes in the dying minutes of the period which ended up on Tamina Kehler's (Chilliwack, BC) stick in close only to hit the post. Woodland was tested early, making 12 saves in the first.
The Reds would respond 21 seconds into the second with a strong push to the net on the power-play. Jennifer Bell (Miramachi, NB) finished the play, scoring the first goal in the team's new era. Bell is a former Mountie and one of only five New Brunswickers on the Reds.
"It was a fantastic feeling, we really wanted to build off the first and keep moving forward and to get that goal and to get it back, tie the game up, it was a great feeling," said Bell. Jenna MacLean (Wilcox, SK) and Kehler had assists on the goal.
The Reds would play a strong period with lots of net-front presence and much more disciplined play, with only one penalty as opposed to the three infractions they took in the first. But the Reds would be back in penalty trouble in the third, including a five-minute kill to start the period.
UNB pressed hard in the final minutes of regulation, but the game would remain tied and head to overtime. Both teams used the open ice to trade a series of opportunities in the 4-on-4 overtime period, with both goaltenders coming up huge for their respective teams. Spitzig had the best opportunity of them all, with a clear shot from the slot in the dying seconds of the first overtime period.
The game then moved to 3-on-3, where Ashley Stratton (Mount Pearl, NL) started a lengthy forecheck for the Reds, but with no results. Heather Richards (St. Anthony, NL) would get a breakaway for the Mounties, but Woodland continued to shut the door with another big save. She would stop a 2-on-0 just seconds after.
Mount Allison kept coming though, and with 10.9 seconds to play Maddy Koughan (Mermaid, PE) tipped a cross crease pass from Desautels to win the game for the Mounties.
"We wanted to welcome them into the league, but we also didn't want to give up a win," said Koughan about spoiling the Reds first game. Woodland had 32 saves in net for the Reds while Mowbray had 33 saves in the win for the Mounties.
Mowbray was named Subway Player of the Game.
The Reds are back on the ice Sunday, hosting a renewal of the "Battle on the Hill" against the St. Thomas Tommies. Game time is 2:00pm.
The Mounties are at home next Saturday against UPEI.
RECAP BY: Jonathan James/for UNB Athletics