Panthers need wins to make playoffs

Jason Malloy
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It's now or never for the UPEI Panthers women's hockey team.

The Panthers (4-13-3), currently in the basement of the seven-team Atlantic University Sport conference, is one of three teams chasing one of the two remaining playoff spots. Fifth-place St. F.X. has 18 points with a game in hand over Dalhousie (15) and UPEI (11).

"We need to play like we're desperate," head coach Bruce Donaldson said Tuesday. "We've got four game remaining and we need at least four points."

The Panthers travel to Sackville, N.B., today to play the Mount Allison Mounties (10-10-0) at 7 p.m.

UPEI has lost four straight games but, Donaldson said, many of the team's losses this season have been decided by one goal.

"We've progressively gotten better, but we still have not played a good 60 minutes," he said. "We need to play like every shift counts."

He has coached the Panthers for 10 season. The last time they didn't make the post-season was in his second year.

He expects to lean on his most experienced players tonight and for the remainder of the season. Captain Sam Sweet and assistant captain Laura Bradley are in their fifth and final year of Canadian Interuniversity Sport eligibility.

Donaldson said he expects them to "lead and inspire" tonight.

"I know they dearly want to make the playoffs, and with their work ethic, I think, they will be great in leading the team," he said.

Marie-Soleil Deschenes gets the start tonight in the Panthers crease.

The Panthers host Dalhousie Sunday at 6 p.m. before finishing up with games at home against St. F.X. on Feb. 13 and Saint Mary's (15-5-0) on Feb. 14.

UPEI has lost two 1-0 games to Dalhousie and has wins against St. F.X. and Saint Mary's.

"We still feel confident in terms of the teams we're playing, but we know we can't take a shift off," Donaldson said. "The oars have all got to be in the water."

Organizations: Panthers, Atlantic University Sport

Geographic location: Sackville, Saint Mary

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