By Dylan Matthias, Staff Contributor
AUS scoring-leader Mariève Provost scored twice and set up two other goals last Saturday, giving the Moncton Aigles-Bleues a 4-2 win over a battered Tigers team.
“The score doesn’t really reflect the game at all – we were all over them, we just couldn’t put the puck in the net,” said Tigers assistant captain Robin Mullen.
Bad news hit for the Tigers coming into the game and continued pretty much all through the game. Dal’s most potent offensive weapon and second-place league scoring-leader, sniper Jocelyn LeBlanc was in bed with mono. Leblanc, a third-year Kinesiology student from Moncton, N.B., has eight goals and eleven assists in 10 games this season. Tatamagouche-native Robyn Nicholson, who is tied with team-mate Fielding Montgomery for second in point-scoring for Dal, was injured, and starting goaltender Ashley Boutilier, who posted a .923 save percentage in eight starts in 2009 was sitting out to focus on schoolwork. To make matters worse, the Tigers lost rookie shooter Rebecca Sweet to a collision in the first period. In the second period, forward Cassie Banfield went down with a knee contusion. Dalhousie Captain Laura Shearer was playing injured. The beleaguered Tigers were counting on big performances from some of their depth and role players to keep pace with the high-scoring Aigles-Bleues, who are 6-1 on the road this season.
The Tigers outplayed Moncton, whom they have not beaten since AUS started publishing stats in 2004, in the first period. Both teams had chances and both goaltenders looked solid, with five-foot-two Swedish goalie Emelie Ederfors getting her third start in lieu of Boutilier. The 24-year-old Ederfors, a fourth-year Kinesiology student from Aseda, Sweden, posted a .826 save percentage in the loss.
2008-2009 AUS MVP Kathy Desjardins was solid for Moncton, stopping 19 of 21 shots. After a quiet first period, Provost started to shine in the second, her vision, passing, and speed overwhelming the Tigers’ defence.
“She’s got some great individual skill,” said Tigers coach Lesley Jordan. “She’s probably the most skilled player in the league. Our whole strategy was trying to cut down their odd-man rushes.”
Provost scored at 5:59 of the second, after getting in alone down the left she beat Ederfors with a quick fake out. Provost then assisted on Marie-Ève Couture’s first goal of the season with a fast return pass to give Couture the open side on Ederfors, the two Aigles-Bleues having space after a horrific defensive turnover by the Tigers.
Provost then scored again, in controversial fashion, as she leapt on the ice to receive a stretch pass before Jill Stockton was anywhere near the bench. Provost in alone is a scary sight, and she fooled Ederfors with a fake before tucking the puck in the side. The run of four goals in 14 minutes was complete when Kristine Labrie bundled a goal in, fractions of a second before the end of the period. Provost had pushed it across to her.
Moncton begins the new year sixth in national rankings and two points behind St. Francis Xavier for first in the Atlantic conference.
“We knew we were in a bit of trouble,” said Tigers forward Tessa Boudreau.
“We were like, ‘They scored four goals in 10 minutes. We definitely can go out there and comeback in 20 minutes,” said Mullen, who was named Dalhousie’s player of the game.
“We gave (Provost) a couple of chances and she buried them,” said Jordan.
The Tigers did make a comeback attempt, scoring at 9:18 of the third on an Alyssa Hennigar deflection. They added a late goal with the net empty to make it 4-2, with Mullen deflecting Miranda McMillan’s shot past Desjardins. Boudreau said the loss of Banfield affected the team’s ability to cover Provost. She and McVey had been matching up against Boudreau. LeBlanc will help with the offence – she has eleven goals. But mono can take a while to run its course. Boutilier is expected back between the pipes next week.