(CHARLOTTETOWN, PE) The UNB Reds' magical season continued Sunday afternoon with a dramatic 4-3 win over the UPEI Panthers that sends them to the Subway Atlantic University Sport semi-finals.
Down a goal with 5:10 to play, the Reds rallied with two quick scores.
At 18:06, Emma Borbandy (Langdon, AB) roofed a power-play goal from the blue line to square the score 3-3.
Then, with just 26.8 seconds remaining, Tamina Kehler (Chilliwack, BC) took a pass from behind the net and from one knee, whipped a shot past Panthers keeper Camile Scherger (Lloydminster, AB) to give UNB the quarter-final sweep.
"We pick it up a lot when we know we have to bear down," said Kehler, named the Subway Player of the Game. "We played hard those last five minutes. We wanted it really bad and it worked out for us in the end."
"It's surreal. I never imagined any of this coming in," she said. "I knew we were going to have to work our a**** off and we have, and I think we deserve everything we got."
The Panthers, for the most part, outplayed their opponent and the shots on goal reflected that as they outshot UNB 38-15.
"We didn't play well until then," said Reds head coach Sarah Hilworth. "UPEI threw everything at us and they played unbelievable. We just hung in there and hung in there, and then in the last five minutes things seemed to click."
The visitors were the first to strike, despite UPEI's early aggressiveness. In a scramble against the boards, the puck squirted out to Hayley Hallihan (Miramichi, NB), who wristed the Reds' first shot of the game past Scherger.
The Panthers were quick to respond.
At 12:37, Taylor Gillis (Summerside, PE) centred a pass from behind the net to Jolena Gillard (Deer Lake, NL), who rifled it past Kendra Woodland (Kamloops, BC).
Less than three minutes later, the home team scored a similar goal, but this time Gillard centred it to Gillis, as UPEI pulled ahead 2-1.
The Reds found the equalizer early in the second, when Paige Grenier's (Olds, AB) shot from the point deflected off a Panther and beat Scherger.
The Panthers almost scored again midway through the period, when a low shot nearly crossed the goal line before Woodland looked behind her and dove on the puck to keep it knotted 2-2.
Woodland played big throughout the contest, but it was in the middle stanza where she really left her mark. She made 13 of her 25 saves in the second and kept the Panthers off the scoreboard.
But late in the third, UPEI would get to her again when Kelly Clements (High Bank, PE) struck on one-timer as the home team went up 3-2.
The Panthers looked poised to win and send the series back to Fredericton, but the Reds regrouped and played their best hockey of the season over that critical five-minute stretch to steal Game Two on the road.
"Everyone just labels us as this young underdog team," Hilworth said. "The exciting part to see is how big their hearts grew in those last five minutes and how they didn't wan t to go back home and play one more game on Tuesday."
Recap courtesy of Thomas Becker/UPEI Athletics
Photo courtesy of UPEI Athletics