By Thomas Becker
The UPEI Panthers renewed their rivalry with the Acadia Axemen Friday night and in the middle of all the action was Kameron Kielly, who recorded a goal and an assist in a hard-fought 2-1 win.
It's no secret, Kielly and the Axemen (5-11-2) have some animosity toward one another and it didn't come as a surprise that the second-year forward was eagerly anticipating this game. So it seemed like a fitting conclusion when UPEI's leading scorer capped off the game (and their final regular season meeting) with the game-winner late in the second period.
"Anytime you can take them for two points, it feels pretty good," Kielly said.
The Panthers (10-6-1) haven't skipped a beat following their month-long break, earning three of four points in their first two games of 2019.
"It can be tough to find your legs again, so grabbing a point on the road and taking two points at home is huge for us."
For head coach Forbes MacPherson and his coaching staff it's a positive sight to see the team come out with the fight and grit needed to be successful in a tough AUS.
"We're playing the right way," MacPherson said. "It's really good when you get rewarded for the effort put in because you get more buy in and belief from the players."
UPEI got off to a slow start, but picked up the pace late in the first period and challenged Logan Flodell, who got the nod in net for the visiting Axemen. With five minutes remaining, Flodell denied an odd-man rush with a sliding save to keep the game scoreless.
Two minutes later, Jordy Stallard's shot from an unlikely angle trickled through Simon Hofley's skates and through the crease where Kyle Farrell tapped in the opening goal for the Axemen. That was Hofley's lone blemish, as he made 33 saves on the night.
Flodell continued his stellar play in the final minutes of the period, when he made a series of big saves from close range to help his team maintain the 1-0 advantage after 20 minutes.
The Christmas break didn't slow down Cody Payne any, as he ripped a shot from the right circle just 20 seconds into the second, which squared things up at one apiece.
With a little over four minutes remaining, Kielly fired the puck from the corner of the ice that somehow found it's way past Flodell for the go-ahead goal and a 2-1 edge.
That's all the Panthers needed, as their defence and Hofley's calming presence between the pipes closed the door in the final period to earn their first win of the New Year.
The Panthers face another tough test when they welcome the Saint Mary's Huskies Jan. 5 for a 7 p.m. showdown.
Photo Credit: Janessa Hogan