The UPEI Panthers women’s hockey team needs two points in its next four games to secure a playoff spot.
“We’re in the playoff run now,” coach Bruce Donaldson said Tuesday.
“We have a very busy week,” he added. “We have the top three teams in the loop. . . It will be a real good test for the girls.”
It starts tonight when the Panthers (8-11-1) hit the road for Antigonish, N.S., for a 7:30 p.m. game with the Atlantic University Sport (AUS) conference-leading St. F.X. X-Women (14-3-2).
“It’s a mid-week game so it’s a little unusual,” Donaldson said.
UPEI is 1-2 against St. F.X. this season. The Panthers beat the X-Women 3-2 in Charlottetown on Jan. 4, lost 3-2 at home on Nov. 16 and 5-0 in Antigonish on Nov. 3. Donaldson said the games were all close except for about a four-minute span in the 5-0 loss.
“If you let up, they can put the puck in the net,” he said.
Rookie goalie Courtney Arsenau gets the start tonight. Anja Weisser is away with the German national team at the Olympics. The team has a couple players dealing with injuries or illness and their status will not be known until later today.
The team leaves today around lunchtime and will not get back to Charlottetown until 2 a.m. It will practise Thursday before playing its final home games of the regular season Friday and Saturday.
UPEI hosts St. Thomas (10-7-4) on Friday at 7 p.m. and Saint Mary’s (13-5-2) on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. The Panthers conclude the regular season on Feb. 14 at Mount Allison.
The top six teams make the playoffs with the first- and second-place teams earning byes.
Friday night is graduate night where the Panthers will recognize its five graduates — Weisser, Lyndsay Oakes, Keirstin Visser, Ferran Brown and Christina Kelly.
The Panthers will be participating in the Shoot for a Cure fundraiser by wearing special black jerseys with a pink Panther logo during Saturday’s contest.