(Halifax, NS) AUS quarterfinal playoff hockey action took over the Dauphinee Centre in Halifax this Wednesday as the Saint Mary's Huskies took on the UPEI Panthers in game one of the best of 3 series.
A back and forth game all the way through took until the last five seconds to decide, as the Huskies game away with a 5-4 win.
The teams traded power plays early in the first period. There were no quality scoring chances, but numerous missed passes and hard hits as both teams came out playing a physical game.
The Huskies got on the board late on the period. On the man advantage, they had good puck movement around the perimeter of the Panthers' zone. With less than a minute left in the period, Conor McGlynn (Oakville, ON) scooped up a rebound and buried it in the top corner, past goalie Simon Hofley (Ottawa, ON). Bronson Beaton (Springhill, NS) and Dylan Di Perna (Nobleton, ON) got assists on the goal.
At the end of the period, the Huskies led on the scoreboard 1-0 and 7-4 in shots.
A flurry of goals in the opening minutes in the second period made up for the unexciting first. Less than a minute in, UPEI's Drake Pilon (Sault Ste Marie, ON) had a near end to end rush before cutting across the crease and tucking the puck past goalie Eric Brassard (St. Hubert, QC) at the far post. Darian Pilon (Sault Ste Marie, ON) assisted.
SMU took the lead 10 seconds later, with a shot in the slot from Keith Getson (Bridgewater, NS). It was assisted by Jacob Friend (Bowmanville, ON) and Logan DeNoble (Peterborough, ON).
On the power play 20 seconds after, the Panthers made it 2-2. The rebound off of a shot from the point from Kameron Kielly (Charlottetown, PEI) went to the far side of the net, right on the stick of Kyle Maksimovich (Oakville, ON). His low shot went in the net before Brassard could come across to stop him. Darian Pilon also got an assist on the play.
The Panthers had the momentum in the second period, putting 17 shots on net while the Huskies had 11. UPEI was keeping Huskies scoring chances to a minimum by blocking several shots. They also jumped on dangerous passes to create a couple of odd man rushes, but they didn't pull ahead until late in the period.
On the power play again, a pass down low went to Darian Pylon, who quickly moved it to Maksimovich across the crease for a tap in goal, his second of the game.
The teams headed into the third period with the Panthers up 3-2.
The Huskies took an early lead to start the third. On the same shift that Di Perna hit the post a shot from the point, Saint Mary's worked the puck on the cycle. Anthony Repaci (Toronto, ON) curled around the net and passed to Sam King (Hampton, NB) in the low slot, who lifted a backhand shot over the shoulder of Hofley.
The Huskies took the lead about halfway through the period. Getson took a shot along the ice from the half wall that was tipped by Joel Bishop (St. John's, NL) to get into the back of the net. DeNoble also assisted on the goal as it became a 4-3 game.
With less than five minutes to play, the Panthers had a great chance with a three on one rush. Brassard made the save of the game, coming across to stop Jesse Sutton (Paradise, NL) after a pass from TJ Shea (Tignish, PEI).
The Huskies were shorthanded for the last minute and a half of the game, and the Panthers pulled their goalie for a six on four advantage.
It worked, with Darian Pilon scoring the equalizing goal, assisted by Filip Rydström (Stockholm, Sweden) and Maksimovich.
However, the Huskies weren't deterred: with 3.2 seconds to go, they scored the game winning goal. In a mess of players in front of the net, Dawson Theede (Brooklin, ON) got the puck in the net, assisted by Repaci and Nicholas Welsh (Halifax, NS)
The Subway Player of the Game was the Huskies' Joel Bishop.
The series moves to Charlottetown for game two on Friday night and if necessary, game three will be Sunday at the Dauphinee Centre.
Sarah Moore, SMU
Photo Nick Pearce