Costly penalties and missed power-play opportunities for the UPEI Panthers were key factors in a 3-2 loss to the UQTR Patriotes in exhibition men’s hockey action Friday night at MacLauchlan Arena in Charlottetown
The opening match of UPEI’s 2012-2013 pre-season saw the AUS squad drop the first game of a weekend doubleheader against the RSEQ Conference’s Patriotes. The second game is today at an early 12 p.m. start time.
UQTR defenceman Pierre-Luc Lessard netted the game winner during a 5-on-3 powerplay in the second half of the third period.
UQTR’s other goals were scored by Billy Lacasse and Cowan Austrie.
UPEI forwards Harrison McIver and Matthew Brenton scored the Panthers goals.
UPEI goalie Wayne Savage kept the team alive by stopping 21 of UQTR’s 24 shots during his first game with UPEI since 2009.
Despite the loss, Savage said he felt the team had put in a good effort.
“We had lots of shots and lots of chances, a couple of bounces and then it’s a different game out there,” he said during a post-game interview with The Guardian. “I think our biggest thing is that we’ve got to keep our emotions at check and just battle.”
The pre-season match saw UQTR and UPEI competing head-to-head throughout a penalty-laden 60 minutes.
UQTR opened scoring short-handed, with Lacasse taking advantage of a two-man breakaway 5:28 into the first period.
McIver evened up the score 1-1 for UPEI just minutes later by taking advantage of a scramble in front of net.
While the Patriotes trailed in shots 14-7 after the first period, the team narrowed the gap 24-20 during a slightly-tamer second period.
Patriotes’ Austrie opened up scoring 4:03 in the third with a top-shelf goal on Savage. That was followed by Lessard's game-winner at 12:24.
Brenton found an opening in UQTR goalie Marc-Antoine Gelinas’s pads late in the third to cut UQTR’s lead to 3-2. However that wasn’t enough for the Panthers, who failed to capitalize during a 5-on-3 opportunity in the game’s dying minutes, further bolstered with Savage on the bench.
Savage said he’s confident in the team’s future season, despite the exhibition game’s outcome.
“Obviously you want to win every game,” he said. “But we worked on some things out there and it’s a new group, so we’re still getting to know each other. In a couple more games, we’ll be right where we want to be.”
After this weekend, the Panthers will hit the road for exhibition matches against the St. F.X. X-Men and Dalhousie Tigers next weekend.
That will be followed by an exhibition match against archrival Moncton Blue Eagles in Grand Falls on Saturday, Oct. 6.
The Panthers will start the regular season with the home opener against Moncton on Oct. 13.