The UPEI Panthers’ backs are now against the wall after the team suffered its second 7-2 loss to the UNB Varsity Reds in Atlantic University Sport men’s hockey playoff action Monday at MacLauchlan Arena.
With UNB now leading the best-of-five series 2-1, UPEI will need to win tonight’s match at MacLauchlan Arena to stay alive in the series. Game time is 7 p.m.
If the Panthers win tonight, a fifth and deciding game will be played Thursday in Fredericton.
Monday night’s game saw the two teams battling head-to-head and tied 2-2 past the midway mark of the second period.
The second half of the game saw UNB net five unanswered goals to end the chippy match which ended in a series of scrums.
UPEI head coach Forbes MacPherson said the game played out similar to last Thursday’s effort, which also ended in a 7-2 loss.
Both games saw the Panthers keep up and at times outplay UNB approaching the third period.
“Things became unravelled in the third,” said MacPherson, adding the team was pressing hard for scoring chances but failing to capitalize on any. “(Monday’s) third period doesn’t represent who we are as a hockey team.”
Cam Braes netted two goals for UNB, while singles went to Chris Culligan, Bryce Swan, Ben Shutron, Tyler Carroll and Stefan Salituro. Only two of UNB’s goals were even-handed, with three coming on a power play, another short-handed and an empty-netter.
Braes and Culligan both earned a pair of helpers, while singles went to Carroll, Salituro, Nick MacNeil, Daine Todd, Ben Wright and Thomas Nesbitt.
Both of UPEI’s goals were scored on the power play from Matt Brenton and Jordan Knox. Helpers went to Dana Fraser, Alex Wall and Matt Maione.
MacPherson said the team knows what it needs to do to beat UNB and keep the series from ending tonight.
“This is playoff hockey and nobody said it was going to be easy,” said MacPherson. “Our job is to make sure we take advantage of home ice tomorrow night and find a way to bring this series back to Fredericton.”
Culligan scored on a power play at 11:32 to give UNB the first lead in the game.
Brenton then caught his own rebound on a power play at 14:32, wristing the puck top shelf past UNB goalie Dan Lacosta’s blocker to tie the game 1-1 for the first intermission.
Swan netted his goal seven minutes into the second period by taking advantage of some traffic in front of UPEI goalie Mavric Parks.
Knox took advantage of a power play at 13:47 when he greased a low shot past Lacosta.
Knox’s goal celebration was short-lived.
It was barely announced when Braes netted the game-winner at 14:22.
From there it was downhill for UPEI, as Shutron scored short-handed to close the second period with a 4-2 lead.
The third period saw Carroll score on a power play at 15:04, followed by an empty-netter from Braes at 18:08.
Salituro scored UNB’s final goal with only six second left in the game.
The final five minutes of the game saw emotions boil over between the two teams.
UNB’s Matt Fillier, Antoine Houde-Caron and Daine Todd all received 10-minute misconducts, while UPEI’s Mike MacIsaac, Spencer Metcalfe, Cole MacMillan were assessed the same for a wild donnybrook at 15:51.
UNB went 3-for-6 on power-play chances, while UPEI was 2-for-7.
Parks made 28 saves, while Lacosta had 22.