AUS Women's Hockey Playoffs: Oitomen scores in double overtime to clinch AUS title for Reds

AUS Women's Hockey Playoffs: Oitomen scores in double overtime to clinch AUS title for Reds

Reds, X-Women off to Saskatoon for U SPORTS Nationals

(FREDERICTON, NB) The UNB REDS have won their third consecutive Atlantic University Sport championship, winning 2-1 in double overtime, Tuesday night at UNB's Aitken Centre. 

"We're feeling pretty good about ourselves," expressed REDS captain, Payton Hargreaves. "It's such a big accomplishment for the program and the girls in this room. Not just the ones that are on this ice but all the girls that came before us that got this program started." 

Sydney Oitomen (Mississauga, ON) scored the game winner for UNB to give the REDS the championship banner in Game 2 of the AUS final, and was named Most Valuable Player of the AUS Playoffs  

"It's an amazing honour," said Oitomen. "But obviously I didn't do it by myself. It's a team game. Really, it's the MVP for the UNB REDS, so yeah it feels awesome." 

The X-Women opened the scoring just 29 seconds into the game to take an early 1-0 lead.  

Ella VandeSompel (London, ON) took a shot from the blueline which was tipped by Bree MacPherson (Antigonish, NS) standing in between the hashmarks unattended, redirecting the puck through REDS goaltender, Kendra Woodland's (Kamloops, BC) five-hole. 

"When it happens early, you can't get too down," said Woodland. "There's a whole hockey game still to play, but I thought we did a great job. I thought we played as a team, the most we did all season and not to get down early on. Once it goes to overtime, it's nerve-wracking, it's exciting." 

The REDS struggled to match the momentum of the X-Women until half way through the period.  

The second period began and both teams came out firing. 

During a REDS' powerplay at 7:25, Mackenzie Keenan (Midhurst, ON) fired a shot that deflected off a stick en route to the net, resulting in the puck trickling through the crease and just missing the STFX net. 

Later in the period, X's Kamdyn Switzer (Stittsville, ON) was left alone in front of the REDS net, unleashing a shot that beat Woodland but couldn't get past the crossbar. 

Going into the third period, the X-Women led 1-0. 

It was Marisa Valla (St. Catherines, ON) who would be the third period hero.  

At 13:02, straight off the bench, Valla flew into the X zone, taking a pass from Oitomen, moving around an X defender and unleashing a slapshot, beating Amaya Giraudier (Assinibolia, SK) glove side.  

Overtime was needed to decide a winner.  

Both teams had their chances through the first overtime period, but with unbelievable goaltending from Woodland and Giraudier, a second overtime period was required. 

Oitomen ended the game after Jorja Nystrom (Leduc, AB) wrapped the puck around the STFX net, hitting Giraudier's pad and placing the puck on Oitomen's stick, who buried the series-ending goal. 

"Honestly I dont remember much I just saw the puck in front of the net and whacked it in and there you go," she said.

Tuesday's victory came in front of a crowd of 2,475 fans.

"We had a really good game tonight," said X-Women head coach Ben Berthiaume. "Two good teams going at it. It was a good battle, so nothing to hang our heads about. We have to get ready for the national tournament." 

Woodland made 39 saves on 40 shots. Giraudier made 43 on 45. 

"Tears are flowing for sure, happy tears," said Woodland, a member of the original recruiting class in this new era of women's hockey at UNB. "To see the building of this program from the ground up, I'm speechless to see the work put in by so many people and to be part of it is special. To end this, on home turf, with a win, it doesn't get more special than that." 

Both the REDS and X-Women now prepare for the U SPORTS women's hockey championship, March 14 to 17, at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon. 

"We're going to take the momentum with us," added Hargreaves. "Our entire goal this year was to get to nationals and win it. So, it wasn't just the AUS, we're not stopping there. We're going all the way." 


Recap by Madison Tucker/UNB Athletics
Photo by James West/UNB Athletics 









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