Maggie Grimmer heads up ice during a drill at UPEI Panthers women's hockey practice.
There will be no easing back into action for the UPEI Panthers women’s hockey team.
The Panthers (5-8-0) open the second half today against the St. F.X. X-Women, who leads the Atlantic University Sport (AUS) conference with an 11-1-0 record. Game time is 2 p.m. at MacLauchlan Arena.
St. F.X. has outscored its opponents 47-16 while UPEI has been outscored 33-24. The X-Women also played in a tournament at Concordia last weekend while UPEI had its first practice on Tuesday.
“They’re the No. 1 team in terms of offence,” Panthers coach Bruce Donaldson said.
“We want to stick close to them . . . and see if we can take some advantages with our power play.”
St. F.X. defeated UPEI 5-0 on Nov. 3 in Antigonish, N.S., and 3-2 on Nov. 16 in Charlottetown.
UPEI has improved its scoring from a year ago, but still finds itself looking for more to be successful in the second half.
“We need to be able to get into the dirty spots and be able to pay the price a little bit more,” Donaldson said. “I think we need a little bit more offence off the D as well.”
The Panthers will be without its only fifth-year player today.
Anja Weisser remains in Germany trying to secure a spot on the national team for the Olympics. She is one of four players vying for two remaining spots on the blue-line. The team is playing in a tournament this weekend.
“I think it gives others opportunities to step up and show their stuff,” Donaldson said.
The team has two extra forward and an extra defenceman on the roster this season. With injuries always a possibility, the coach said, it will take all players to have a strong half second half. The lines are expected to be mixed up today as the team starts to push towards the playoffs with only 11 games remaining in the season.
“We’ve had a chance to look at everybody in the first term, now it’s really about trying to focus on getting into a solid playoff position and getting ready to play in a series format, which is new,” he said.
The six teams in the eight-team conference with the best record advance to playoffs. The top two teams receive byes with the remaining four playing in the quarter-finals. Each series will be a best-of-three affair.
Second-year Panther Marie Soleil Deschenes gets the start in the UPEI net today.
2 p.m. – St. F.X. at UPEI* (http://austv.ca/)
4 p.m. – UPEI at Holland College (exhibition)
5 p.m. – UPEI at Mount Saint Vincent, Dyrick McDermott tournament. Watch online at http://bit.ly/19EPHtu.
5 p.m. – UPEI vs. Saint Mary’s, Rod Shoveller tournament.*
7 p.m. – Acadia at UPEI*
11 a.m. – UPEI at Holland College (Exhibition)
1 p.m. – UPEI vs. St. F.X., Dyrick McDermott tournament.
6 p.m. – Dalhousie at UPEI*
* Denotes games available online at http://austv.ca/
Friday to Sunday
The Atlantic university curling championship is being hosted by UNB at the Capital Winter Club in Fredericton.