Panthers double up Saint Mary’s with balanced attack

Panthers double up Saint Mary’s with balanced attack

By Thomas Becker 

The UPEI Panthers scored a pair of goals in each period to double up the Saint Mary's Huskies 6-3 Friday night.  

The Panthers (5-6-3) used a balanced attack with six different players depositing a goal. Kyle Maksimovich, Owen Headrick and Troy Lajeunesse recorded a goal and an assist each, while Jordan Maher, Riley Whittingham and TJ Shea also found the back of the net. 

"We have all lines going right now," said Maksimovich, who was named the Subway Player of the Game. "Everybody's accepting their role and it shows on the score sheet. Depth is a big thing, especially in the long run, and we just have to keep it rolling." 

Goaltender Simon Hofley also had a big night with a 42-save performance and earned the praise of head coach Forbes MacPherson. 

"He just seemed to be dialed in," MacPherson said. "He looked big in net and he was like a vacuum sucking pucks into him and killing rebounds."  

UPEI wasted little time in the opening period and found the score sheet twice in less than six minutes. First it was Maher, who took a short pass from Maksimovich and unleashed a one-timer from bottom of the left circle past Eric Brassard for the opening score. And at 5:13, Headrick scored with the man-advantage when he fired a laser from the point and in, as the home team extended their lead 2-0.

"We capitalized on our opportunities," Maksimovich said. "They turn the puck over a lot in their zone and we took advantage of that and scored a couple quick ones." 

The Huskies (9-7-0) got that goal back a minute later, when Dylan DiPerna's shot from the blue line took a favourable bounce off the backboards to Jacob Friend, who easily put it away. 

The Panthers went back to work early in the second when Headrick won the battle along the boards and sent Whittingham alone, where the forward pulled off a nifty toe-drag past a sliding defender and wired a shot in the back of the net. 

They'd get to Brassard again at 7:53, when Shea sent a cross-ice pass to Maksimovich, who wristed a shot from his knee through the five-hole to extend the lead 4-1.

Saint Mary's wasn't going down without a fight and found an opportunity to inch closer in the opening minutes of the third. While on a 5-on-3, Mitchell Balmas fired it off the end boards to Anthony Repaci for the easy tally. The visitors then took advantage of UPEI miscue at 5:30 when a defender left the puck in front of the net where Stephen Johnson buried it, cutting the deficit to 4-3. 

Earlier in the year, that sudden turn in momentum would've derailed this team, but not this time.

"We showed a lot of resolve to not let that change the outcome of the game," MacPherson said. "We're starting to believe in ourselves and have the confidence to win those games in the third."

The Panthers had no intention of letting another game slip away and on an odd-man rush at 7:56, Kameron Kielly floated a short pass to Lajeunesse, who batted it in and cushioned the lead 5-3. With time winding down, Shea added an empty-netter for his first AUS goal to seal the win.

The Panthers travel to Wolfville, NS next where they'll take on the Acadia Axmen on Nov. 23 at 7 p.m.

Photo Credit: Janessa Hogan