UPEI defenceman Reggie Traccitto tries to block the passing lane as Saint Mary's Matt Tipoff comes out from the side of the net Sunday during AUS men's hockey action in Charlottetown.
Saint Mary's defeats UPEI 4-1 in Game 3 of quarter-final
It was a first period effort members of the UPEI men’s hockey Panthers wish they could take back.
The team was eliminated from the Atlantic University Sport (AUS) quarter-final during a 4-1 loss to the Saint Mary’s Huskies Sunday in front of a home crowd of 1,050 at MacLauchlan Arena.
The game was for the most part over after the Huskies scored three unanswered goals in the first period and forced the Panthers to play catch-up for the final 40 minutes.
UPEI captain Mason Wilgosh said it was far from how the team wanted to end the season.
“It just sucks, it’s something no one wants to go through. None of us want to be done for the summer,” Wilgosh said during a post-game interview with The Guardian. “We had a good season and we just didn’t play a full 60 (minutes) tonight. We knew what we had to do and we didn’t get the good start we needed.”
Saint Mary’s forward Gerrad Grant opened the scoring 1:02 into the game.
That was followed by goals from Alex Cord at 5:54 and Stephen MacAulay at 15:27 to put the team up 3-0 at the first intermission.
From there, the Huskies moved into a defensive role with UPEI outshooting them 26-11 during the final two periods.
However, it wasn’t enough for the squad.
UPEI defenceman Reggie Traccitto described the first period as “rough.”
“I don’t even really know what to say, we fought hard and played the best we can,” said Traccitto, who scored UPEI’s only goal on a power play 59 seconds into the second period. “Just the way the puck bounced and way things happened we couldn’t get our chances. We battled hard and did the best we can but that’s the way it goes.”
Forwards Jordan Mayer and Chris DeSousa earned assists on Traccitto’s goal, which was a slapshot from the blue-line.
Saint Mary’s Cory Tanaka earned two assists, while singles went to Lucas Bloodoff and Stephen Gillard.
Ryan Hillier scored Saint Mary’s fourth goal unassisted at 19:48 in the second period.
The game wasn’t without controversy, as the home crowd heckled the referees after a rare five-minute interference and game misconduct was called on UPEI forward Dana Fraser less than six minutes into the game.
It would end up being the graduating player’s final game with the team.
“I don’t really know what happened, (the Saint Mary’s player) was cut,” said Wilgosh. “It is what it is and we can’t change it now, we just have to look past it.”
UPEI netminder Wayne Savage allowed three goals in 12 shots before being replaced by Mavric Parks, who stopped 13 of 14 shots faced.
Saint Mary’s netminder Anthony Peters made 33 saves for the win.
With the loss still fresh, the Panthers are already looking to the future.
Wilgosh said the team, which will have a large returning contingent next season, will be taking a lesson away from the tough loss.
“We pushed all the way to the end . . . that’s the positive we can take away from it,” he said. “We can take a little bit out of that and just remember the feeling of not wanting to lose and just get that winning mentality.
“There’s not much to say right now, just try to get over the summer, work hard and come together as a team.”
Traccitto, who had a breakout year with the Panthers as a leading defenceman in the AUS, said he plans on returning to the team next year.
Spring and summer training during the next five months will be critical, he said.
“We train all summer,” he said. “Next year (the goal is to) just come back and have the chemistry we started with at the beginning of this year . . . and hopefully we can carry forward to make it far in playoffs like we aimed to this year.”
The Huskies will face the conference-leading UNB Varsity Reds in an AUS semifinal. The other series will see the Moncton Blue Eagles take on the Acadia Axemen.