© Mitch MacDonald
UPEI Panthers forward Travis McIsaac, left, tries to get to a loose puck in front of UNB goalie Joel Vienneau.
Varsity Reds score equalizer with 0.8 seconds left in regulation, win in overtime
It took less than one second to make a world of difference to the UPEI men’s hockey Panthers Saturday night.
That was the amount of time UPEI had left to play to clinch a 4-3 victory in Saturday’s game against the UNB Varsity Reds before forward Jordan Murray scored to force an overtime period.
The overtime saw UNB’s Cam Braes score at 5:55 to defeat the Panthers 5-4.
With the Panthers seeming to have the game in the bag during the final minutes of regulation time, a failure to clear the puck in the dwindling seconds led to the buzzer-beating goal.
It also came just two minutes after the Panthers had successfully killed off a minor penalty to hold onto the lead.
Winger Cole MacMillan, who had a goal and two assists in the game, said it was a tough loss.
“We’re happy with the effort but we’re definitely not satisfied with the outcome,” said MacMillan. “Everyone played their hardest but when you don’t get those bounces, it just seemed to go the other way.”
The fast-paced and physical game also saw Travis McIsaac earn a goal and an assist. Matt Maione and Tyler Brown also scored while Reggie Traccitto had two assists and Jordan Mayer one.
Phillippe Maillet had two goals for UNB while Thomas Nesbitt had a single.
UPEI captain Mason Wilgosh said the team could still draw some positives away from the overtime loss, including taking a single point out of the match-up.
The Panther earned three out of a possible four points during the weekend, after the team downed the Moncton Blue Eagles 2-1 Friday night.
The Panthers are now in fourth place of the Atlantic University Sport men’s hockey conference with a 11-7-3 record and 25 points, just a single point behind Moncton.
“We came out to play,” said Wilgosh. “We’ve strung together now four or five great 60-minute efforts. That’s something you always want to do because if you work hard for 60 minutes great things are going to happen.
“Unfortunately they scored with 0.8 seconds left and there’s not much you can do about that. . . We just got to keep going and push forward.”
UPEI’s special teams were firing on all cylinders Saturday, with the squad going 3-for-8 on power plays while also boasting a perfect penalty kill during UNB’s eight power plays.
UPEI led 2-1 after the first period while the teams went into the third tied 3-3.
After losing forward Dana Fraser to an injury in the second period, Wilgosh said the team rallied together for the third period.
“That’s what a team does, we came together to give that one extra inch of effort and it showed,” he said.
MacMillan, who returned after an injury kept him from playing last weekend, said the team has to keep putting together similar efforts going into the season’s final stretch.
“Things will go our way.”
UNB netminder Joel Vienneau made 30 saves for the win while UPEI goalie Wayne Savage stopped 32 shots in the loss.
The Panthers have two home games left before playoffs arrive.
The team will host the St. Thomas Tommies on Saturday, Feb. 8 at 7 p.m. before hosting the Saint Mary’s Huskies on Friday, Feb. 14.