A disciplined effort could be the key for the UPEI Panthers if they hope to defeat the St. F.X. X-Men and sweep their Atlantic unversity Sport men’s hockey quarter-final series tonight.
UPEI earned a close 4-3 win in the opening game Wednesday in Antigonish, thanks to a goal from Mike MacIsaac with just over two minutes left in the third period.
If the X-Men force a third game, it will be played Sunday night in Antigonish.
Only a few seat tickets remain for tonight's 7 p.m. start. With those and a few hundred standing tickets going on sale at noon today at the CARI Complex box office, the game is expected to be a sellout.
The Panthers will be looking to repeat Wednesday’s disciplined effort, as they took just three minor penalties, while the X-Men took four.
St. F.X. capitalized on one power play early in the second, followed by a shorthanded goal five minutes later to take a 2-1 lead.
The Panthers capitalized on two of their power plays, tying the game late in the second period and then gaining a 3-2 lead early in the third.
With depth being a strong point, head coach Forbes MacPherson said his team is hoping to keep much of the game at even strength.
“If you get into a situation where it’s a power-play and penalty-kill game, it becomes a little bit more of flipping a coin as far as the outcome,” said MacPherson. “We like to keep it five on five. We obviously respect St. F.X.’s power play and we don’t want to see a whole lot of it.”
In the two teams’ four regular season games, five of St. F.X.’s nine goals against UPEI came on power plays. In two of those games, the X-Men only scored on the power play.
Only five of UPEI’s 16 goals have been on power plays. Eight goals were even strength, while three were short-handed.
Matt Brenton earned two points with a goal and assist Wednesday and was also assessed a hooking minor in the first period which St. F.X. failed to cash in on.
Brenton said its crucial for the team to stay disciplined.
“A lot of goals come on the power play. And they’re going to just be gritty goals in front of the net.”
MacPherson said the Panthers were using the day between games to regroup.
He added the team is also not letting the opening win change its approach to tonight’s game.
“We still feel that we have to win Friday,” said MacPherson. “It’s a three- game series and there’s no room for error, ever. We stay the course and the job doesn’t change.”
The other quarter-final series resumes tonight with the Moncton Blue Eagles hosting the Acadia Axemen. Moncton leads the series 1-0.
UNB and Saint Mary’s have first-round byes.