The hits keep coming for the UPEI Panthers men’s basketball team.
The Panthers learned this week Will Caesar will be shutdown for the season with shoulder surgery set for Jan. 22. It is the latest in a season marred by injuries for the Panthers.
“It’s another pretty big (blow),” said coach Tim Kendrick.
Caesar, a second-year guard from Markham, Ont., was one of the first guys off the bench. The Panthers have already lost Donathan Moss, a high-scoring guard, for the season after knee surgery.
Andrew Rogers, who was in his fourth year of eligibility, has left the program to pursue a job opportunity.
The Panthers are moving its two red-shirt players (Lucas Coughlin and Brandon Wallace) onto the active roster starting for tonight’s game in Wolfville, N.S., against the country’s second-ranked Acadia Axemen. Both Coughlin, a Summerside native, and Yarmouth’s Wallace are forwards straight out of high school.
“They were pretty keen,” Kendrick said. “It will give them some experience and how to prepare for games.”
Kendrick said despite the injuries, the team’s goals haven’t changed.
“All we’re preaching about is getting ready for Saturday and we’re 4-2 in the league and we want to make a run at the title,” he said.
“Hopefully there’s a rainbow at the end of all those clouds. . .
“One of the good things that’s happening for us is our young guys are getting to play a ton, probably much earlier than they would have.”
He hopes that pays dividends down the stretch.
The Panthers have been close during its first six games, but only have one win to show for it.
“We made great progress in the first semester,” said first-year Panthers coach Greg Gould. “We’re looking to try and turn that corner and turn some of those close games into win now.”
He knows it will be a tough task tonight when they play the country’s sixth-ranked Axewomen.
“It’s going to be a tough game down there, always is,” he said.
Acadia won 75-63 Nov. 23 in their first meeting of the season in Charlottetown. The Panthers’ bench was critical in keeping them in the game the last time around.
Panthers second-year guard Katelynn Donahoe held high-scoring guard Kristy Moore to 13 points in that game.
“Katie Donahoe did a good job on her last time and we’ll probably give her the same assignment,” Gould said.
UPEI will be without Danielle MacDonald (strained MCL) and Carly LaFave (knee) for a couple of weeks.
The UPEI Panthers will be off this weekend.
They were scheduled to play Dalhousie tonight, but the university suspended the team after a hazing incident in September.
The Atlantic University Sport scheduling committee is trying to determine what happens with the games that have been played and the schedule going forward. Executive director Phil Currie it expects to have a final decision by the middle of next week.
Coach Bruce Donaldson said the team started practising during the middle of the week after the Christmas break. The Panthers are 6-6-1, but have had a tough time scoring with only 19 goals in 13 games.
“I asked every one of them, what did you get in your stocking? They kind of look at me, ‘I said, I hope it’s a goal to two,’” Donaldson joked.
“We’ve had a lot of opportunities at the net, we just need to convert on those,” he added.
He is pleased with the team’s work ethic and said they are capable of making a climb up the standings.
They are currently fifth, but are only a point out of third.
The Panthers travel to Sackville, N.B., Jan. 12 to play the Mount Allison Mounties and are not back at home until Jan. 26.