Antigonish, NS – In a high-scoring, back and forth game Friday night at the Antigonish Arena, the UPEI Panthers outlasted the StFX X-Men 6-5.
In a game that saw the lead exchange hands five different times, a shorthanded goal by Panthers forward Filip Rydstrom (Charlottetown, PE) held up as the game winner with four minutes left in the third period.
The X-Men had leads of 2-0 and 4-3 after the opening two periods of the game but the Panthers kept clawing their way back into the game that also saw 84 penalty minutes handed out.
The X-Men had a couple of power play opportunities early on in the first period, including a 5-on-3 for 32 seconds but were unable to capitalize. Defenseman Cole MacDonald (Wetaskiwin, AB) rang one off the cross bar.
StFX did score on their next man advantage, however, as Mark Tremaine (Dartmouth, NS) connected with Santino Centorame (Mississauga, ON) who wristed a shot from the top of the face-off circle past Simon Hofley (Ottawa, ON) in the Panthers net.
The home team went up 2-0 three and a half minutes later when Matt Graham (Bedford, NS) banged in a rebound after Hofley denied shots from Jeremiah Addison (Etibicoke, ON) and Declan Smith (Antigonish, NS).
The 2-0 score held up after 20 minutes as the X-Men outshot the Panthers by a 19-12 margin.
UPEI cut into the lead just 2:39 into the second period as Kameron Kielly (Charlottetown, PE) scored on the power play. He skated in alone in front of the StFX net and lifted a backhander past Joseph Raaymakers (Chatham, ON). Kyle Maksimovich (Oakville, ON) and Darian Pilon (Sault Ste. Marie, ON) had helpers on the play.
The Panthers then tallied a pair of goals scored 1:13 apart to take a 3-2 lead in the game. Kielly took a cross-ice pass from Rydstrom and deflected it in front to score his second goal of the game.
Chad Labelle (Calgary, AB) scored the Panthers third goal at 8:50 as he tipped in a high shot from the point by Pilon.
The one-goal advantage did not hold long, however, as the X-Men replied with a power play marker at the end of a 5-on-3 advantage at the 12:38 mark. After Hofley made the save on a MacDonald shot, Bryson Cianfrone (Stoney Creek, ON) was on the doorstep to deposit the rebound into the open mesh.
On a similar play three minutes later, Addison put in a rebound to score StFX's fourth goal of the night (and his third point) to give them back the lead. Bailey Webster (Kensington, PE) had the original shot on goal off a MacDonald pass.
The X-Men held onto the 4-3 advantage after 40 minutes as they outshot the Panthers 16-9 in the middle period.
As the physicality ramped up in the third period, the Panthers ended up with a 5-on-3 power play advantage and Troy Lajeunesse (Stratford, PE) tied it up six minutes into the period, tipping in a Maksimovich shot.
In the back and forth game, the X-Men took the lead midway through the period as Cole MacDonald dumped in a shot past Hofley from a tight angle at the side of the net, picking up his third point of the night.
The Panthers replied with a power play marker at 11:55 as Rydstrom won the draw, then skated towards the net and tipped in an Owen Headrick (Garden River, ON) shot from the point.
The 5-5 tie was broken on the shorthanded marker by Rydstrom as the X-Men were caught deep in the Panthers zone and he broke out on a 2-on-1 with Headrick. Hanging onto the puck, he ripped one over the shoulder of Raaymakers to give the Panthers the lead with four minutes left to play.
StFX pulled Raaymakers from the net with just over a minute to play and nearly tied it again as Addison had a great shot from the slot in the dying seconds that went just high.
Shots in the third period favoured the Panthers at 17-12 as they finished with 38 total shots in the game to StFX's 47.
For his three-point effort, Panther forward Kameron Kielly earned first star and Subway player of the game honours. StFX's MacDonald was the second star and Addison was the third star as they each contributed a goal and two assists in the losing effort.
UPEI will be back in action on home ice Saturday night when they host the Dalhousie Tigers in their final regular season game of the first term. Tonight's game marked the final one for the X-Men until the New Year.
StFX currently sits in fifth place in the AUS conference with a 7-9-2 record. They will resume action on Friday, January 3rd at the StFX Keating Centre when they host the Moncton Aigles Bleus.
Courtesy Krista McKenna, StFX Athletics Sports Information
Photos by Kendra Vigneau