The UPEI Panthers opened their best-of-five Atlantic University Hockey semifinal series with a 4-1 loss to UNB.
The Panthers are at home Monday night and if the atmosphere is anything like the overtime win here against Acadia the previous week, a UPEI victory would not be a surprise.
Only the most passionate of Panthers fans think they will beat UNB in this series, and I'm not one of them. I admire this group and maybe coach MacPherson is correct in his assessment that his Panthers team is a lot better than most people think. UPEI's dynamic goaltending duo of Mavric Parks and Matt Mahalak gives the Panthers a chance in every game and defenceman Nelson Armstrong has emerged as the team leader on the blue-line.
The most productive line of Marcus Power, Brent Andrews and Mason Wilgosh must score and they will need secondary scoring if this club is to challenge UNB. I think they'll win here Monday night but sidelining UNB will be an upset of Titanic proportions.
Even if UNB does win this semifinal series with the Panthers, the season may not be over for UPEI. The nationals in Halifax allows for three representatives from the Atlantic conference.
If Saint Mary's beats St. F.X. in the other series, the third team would be the winner of a best-of-three series between X and UPEI, since SMU is already in as host. X won the first game 2-0 in Antigonish but it's a best-of-five series and it will be a wild when the scene moves to Halifax. Like Acadia, X is a team which UPEI has had success against, so let's not pack away our Panther hopes just yet.
UNB may not be the end for the Panthers.
The Friday night crowd at the Panthers game against Acadia was a rowdy lot where I was located and, after Marcus Power's overtime winner, the puck stories started to surface.
There are a lot of hockey fans that insist on calling Ron Hennessey the 'Paul Henderson' of UPEI hockey. Hennessey didn't score many in his Panthers career but he notched the overtime winner in Vince Mulligan's second league title (1987) with assists from Dave Shellington and Ron Carragher. As Dave McIsaac pointed out, "it was Hennessey's first shift of the game". Try and top that fact.
In the AHL
Reports from the American Hockey League indicate that former Charlottetown Islander Josh Currie is playing well, taking a regular shift on third and fourth line, and killing penalties with four goals and six assists in 38 games for the Edmonton Oilers farm club.
Meanwhile, Ricky Vaive's son, Justin, has 10 goals and six assists with Bridgeport and former Islanders defenceman Ryan Graves has seven goals and 10 assists with the Hartford Wolfpack.
On the track
There's no live racing at the CDP but there's plenty of up-country action.
Woodbine's $34,000 top class tonight has a field of six and Nickle Bag (Trev Henry) and Nirvana Seelster (James MacDonald) look the best.
The Meadowlands 14-dash card tonight features the $20,000 top class where Dovuto Hanover (Scott Zeron) is morning line favourite against a tough field of 10 that includes Jet Airway and Ashleys Husband.
At Yonkers, N.Y., Mark MacDonald drives Bad Boy Matt from post four in the $32,000 Open Handicap against a tough field, including Polak A and Phil Your Boots.
Arthur Blue Chip (Dave Miller) leaves from post four in the $15,000 Open Pace at Pompano tomorrow night with Buehourpower (Ricky Macomber) and Pinocchio (Wally Hennessey) among the eight-horse field.
Fred MacDonald's column appears every Saturday in The Guardian. He can be reached at email@example.com.