© Photo Special To The Guardian By Ron Ward/Times & Transcript
UPEI forwards Jessie Howard, left, and Christina Kelly watch at the Panthers score against Moncton goalie Gabrielle Forget on Tuesday.
The UPEI women’s hockey Panthers have 60 minutes tonight to extend their season.
One of the keys, fourth-year defenceman Keirstin Visser said Thursday, will be to forget about the pressure and play their game.
“When you walk into the dressing room . . . you just have to think about that game,” she said. “You really have to focus on one shift at a time, one period at a time.”
The Panthers host Moncton tonight at 7 p.m. in Game 2 of the best-of-three Atlantic University Sport (AUS) quarter-final series. Game 3, if needed, is Saturday in Moncton.
“Nobody wants to be finished on Friday,” Visser said Thursday. “After watching the Olympic game today, we’re all fired up and ready to go.”
It’s a message from two other Olympic gold medallists that Panthers coach Bruce Donaldson hopes resonates with his players. He asked them to listen to a 60-second clip of Heather Moyse and Kaillie Humphries following their bobsled victory.
“They don’t talk anything about structure or how to drive the sled, they just talked about mentally what do we need to do different,” he said. “It’s now all about mental and being ready to go.”
The Panthers lost the opening game of the series 2-1 in double overtime Tuesday in Moncton when Natacha Bergeron scored with 28 seconds to play in the period.
“We played a good game, but at the end of the day we’re down,” Donaldson said. “We need to stay disciplined and execute better on the special teams.”
Moncton was 1-for-3 on the power play while UPEI was
“They have a good power play and they capitalized on it,” Donaldson said.
The Panthers added another line combination for the power play at Thursday’s practice in an effort to try to create more offence.
“We have to play sound defensively, but we also have to jump on the chances that are there and bury the puck when opportunity arises,” said Visser, a 23-year-old Victoria native studying biology.
Marie Soleil Deschenes gets the start tonight in the Panthers crease. The coach said the team was as healthy Thursday as it was before Tuesday’s game.
Blue-liners Visser and Laura Bradley logged a ton of ice in the opener and more of the same is expected tonight.
“I said to them today, ‘Get ready for part two,’” Donaldson said.
The Panthers look to advance to the semifinal with a win tonight against Saint Mary’s in Halifax.
UPEI won the opening game of their best-of-three quarter-final
3-1 Wednesday in Charlottetown. Game 3, if needed, would be Sunday at 7 p.m. in Charlottetown.
A look at UPEI’s best-of-three Atlantic University Sport (AUS) hockey quarter-final.
Moncton 2 UPEI 1 (double overtime)
Moncton at UPEI, 7 p.m.
UPEI at Moncton, 7 p.m., if necessary
UPEI 3 Saint Mary’s 1
UPEI at Saint Mary’s, 7 p.m.
Saint Mary’s at UPEI, 7 p.m., if necessary