By Thomas Becker
Photo Janessa Hogan
Moncton's Jean-François Plante played the part of hero Saturday night, netting the game-winning goal to defeat the UPEI Panthers 3-2 in overtime.
After trailing 2-1 for most of the third period, the Aigles Bleus clawed their way back on Marc-Anthony Therrien's second goal of the night forcing the extra period, where Plante delivered the final blow.
"This win is important for our confidence," said Moncton head coach Serge Bourgeois. "For us to get two points on the road against a good team is big for us."
For the Panthers, this marks the second consecutive loss in which they held a lead heading into the final period.
"We let Moncton hang around," said Panthers head coach Forbes MacPherson. "If we would've finished on a couple more chances then we should've had the game put away a lot earlier."
UPEI dominated puck possession throughout the first period, outshooting their opponent 18-8. However, Moncton goaltender Brandon Thibeau kept his team afloat, shutting the door early on the Panthers.
At 16:02 UPEI finally broke through. Cody Payne scored his third of the season after captain Brent Andrews stickhandled his way through the defence, finding Payne open to his left. Just three minutes later, Therrien tied the game at one apiece, silencing the home crowd in the process.
Moncton had the best opportunity in a scoreless second on a scramble at the net, but Panthers' keeper Matt Mahalak came up big, stopping the threat in its track.
UPEI would reclaim their lead three minutes into the third period on a top-shelf wrister by Gabe Guertler for his second of the season. But with only five minutes remaining Therrien scored his second of the game, sending it to overtime.
Moncton wasted little time in the extra period, as Plante flicked the powerplay marker past Mahalak, sealing their first win of the season 3-2.
The Panthers nearly doubled Moncton in shot attempts (38 to 22), but Thibeau's performance between the pipes was a welcomed improvement, as the Aigles Bleus surrendered 25 goals in the three games leading up to Saturday's tilt.
"Our goaltender was solid in net for us today and that's what we need out of him moving forward," Bourgeois said.
The Panthers look to get back in the win column on Oct. 21 when they take on the St. FX X-Men in Antigonish. Puck drops at 7 p.m.