Beau McCue makes immediate impact

Rookie forward sparks UPEI Panthers in return to lineup

Published on January 11, 2017

UPEI Panthers forward Beau McCue prepares to take a pass during Tuesday’s practice.

©Jason Malloy/TC Media

CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. – Beau McCue’s return to the UPEI Panthers lineup was a memorable one.

The rookie forward from Missoula, Mont., scored the winning goal and added two assists Friday as the Panthers defeated the Dalhousie Tigers 5-0 in Atlantic University Sport (AUS) men’s hockey action. The 22-year-old also had an assist on J.C. Campagna’s tying goal Saturday as UPEI beat the St. FX X-Men 4-2.

“When you sit out and you watch, you want nothing more than just to be back in (the lineup),” McCue said. “It was real special.”

Friday was his first game since injuring his shoulder on Oct. 29 at home against Dalhousie. The six-foot, 205-pound right-winger said he was hit awkwardly and, as he was falling, another player hit him sending him into the boards hard.

“It was tough,” McCue admitted. “It was kind of right when I started to feel pretty comfortable.”

The team was 4-2-2 when McCue was injured and 1-7-1 without him in the lineup before the Christmas break.

After starting the second half with a pair of wins, the Panthers (7-9-3) host the Saint Mary’s Huskies (9-9-1) tonight at 7 p.m. at MacLauchlan Arena. It is the makeup game for the Dec. 1 contest that was cancelled.

It is also the start of six games in two weeks for UPEI.

“This week is extremely important,” McCue said. “We do not want to have another slide like what happened in the first half. We’re hoping we can just keep climbing from here.”

McCue has made an impression on his coach in the first few months as a Panther.

“He plays the game the way it’s supposed to be played. He’s a great teammate” and he’s coachable, Forbes MacPherson said. “He has charisma. He has character. He’s a leader. . .

“Away from the rink, he’s a salt-of-the-earth, very grounded, humble person.”

Many of those words were used to describe the Panthers former captain, Mason Wilgosh. Ironically, it was Wilgosh, who helped sell McCue on UPEI, as the two both played for and wore the captain’s C for the Tri-City Americans in the WHL.

“It’s eerily similar how these two players carry themselves,” MacPherson said.

The bench boss also sees some similarities to former Panthers forward Matthew Brenton. Both players’ feet are always moving, they are hard to play against, go to the dirty areas and make their lines click.

Since the Christmas break, McCue has played on a line with J.C. Campagna and Gabe Guertler.

“He’s their sandpaper. He gets the dirty work done, and everybody gets rewarded,” MacPherson said. “He only knows how to play one way, and that’s with his chin first.”

UPEI Panthers captain Brent Andrews fires a shot during Tuesday's practice.
Jason Malloy/TC Media

News and notes

A look at tonight’s UPEI Panthers-Saint Mary’s Huskies men’s hockey matchup.

            GF     GA    PP%   PK%

SMU    63       62       12.4    87.3

UPEI   60       66       13.1    77.1

Top scorers

                                 GP      G        A       Pts.

SMU

Hunter Garlent      19          8          15       23

Ben Duffy                 19       10           9        19

Bronson Beaton     19         7           9         16

UPEI

Cody Payne              19       12           4        16

Brent Andrews        19        4          11       15

Marcus Power         16        6             8       14

 Ben Duffy in action with the P.E.I. Rocket
Guardian photo by Nigel Armstrong

Local connections – Ben Duffy is the all-time scoring leader for the P.E.I. Rocket organization. He played here from 2008-09 to 2012-13. Defenceman Mark Trickett and goalie Eric Brassard played with the Charlottetown Islanders. Thomas Stavert is a freshman with the Huskies. The Kensington native has a goal and seven assists in eight games.

Previous meetings – Saint Mary’s defeated UPEI 8-6 on Nov. 4 in Charlottetown and 6-3 on Nov. 25 in Halifax.

Goalie – UPEI had not decided before Tuesday’s practice which goalie will start tonight. One would suspect newcomer Michael Giugovaz to see his first game soon with the team playing three games in four nights.

Brother connection – UPEI Panthers forward Beni Berisha’s younger brother, Aaron, joined the Huskies for the second semester. The 21-year-old right-winger played parts of three seasons with the Belleville Bulls before ending his junior career with the London Knights of the OHL. He scored 45 goals and recorded 72 points in 66 games last season when the Knights won the Memorial Cup.

News story – Francis Menard is a senior with the Huskies. He was featured in the news pages of The Guardian during 2016 as he looked to find his biological mother. After the story appeared in the newspaper, his biological mother, Melanie Cantwell, contacted him and the two were able to meet.

Upcoming games – Here are the Panthers next few games:

Tonight

7 p.m. – Saint Mary’s at UPEI.

Friday

7 p.m. – UPEI at Acadia.

Saturday

7 p.m. – UPEI at Saint Mary’s.

Friday, Jan. 20

7 p.m. – UPEI at Acadia.

Saturday, Jan. 21

7 p.m. – Saint Mary’s at UPEI.

Wednesday, Jan. 25

7 p.m. – Moncton at UPEI.