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Panthers looking to finish strong

['UPEI Panthers logo']
['UPEI Panthers logo']

UPEI men's hockey team ends regular season at home with a game tonight at MacLauchlan Arena and Saturday at Eastlink Centre

CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. – The UPEI Panthers have to be dialed in on the present and not thinking about the playoffs entering the final games of the regular season, says head coach Forbes MacPherson.

“It is important we stay focused in on the process,” he said Thursday night. “For any reason, if you get distracted, bad things can happen quickly.”

The men’s hockey squad found out Saturday in a 9-1 loss at Saint Mary’s.

“I felt like we won the first shift of the game and, to be quite honest, after that shift, things just snowballed quickly,” MacPherson said.

The team has tried to quickly turn the page as the lopsided loss came after UPEI had won four of its past five games.

“We try not to think too much about (the loss),” MacPherson said. “We’ve been playing so well of late.”

He said the success has come with the players being committed to a game plan of playing a fast, aggressive and heavy game.

The Panthers (9-18-1) host the Dalhousie Tigers (9-18-1) today at 7 p.m. in a game that could go a long way in determining who is fifth and sixth seed for the playoffs. The Tigers are the hottest squad in the seven-team circuit, having won five straight games.

“They've been playing really well,” MacPherson said. “They've really got their team clicking.”

Matt Mahalak gets the start in the Panthers crease while Chad Labelle is expected to play this weekend. MacPherson said it would be nice to have the veteran back in the lineup.

“He always plays the right way,” the bench boss said. “He plays a real gritty game. He plays with a lot of sandpaper.”

Brent Andrews and Alex McQuaid both remain sidelined with injuries.

The Panthers finish the regular season with a home game against St. FX at the Eastlink Centre Saturday as part of Hockey Day in P.E.I.

The Panthers will start the playoffs on the road at either Saint Mary’s or Acadia. This weekend provides an opportunity to build some momentum before the post-season begins.

“Right now, we just have to be playing the right way,” MacPherson said. “You want to be going into the first game of the playoffs feeling good about your game, feeling strong, feeling confident.”

Need to know

A look at this week’s UPEI Panthers varsity sport schedule:
Today

AUS swimming championship, hosted by UNB at Saint Joh, N.B.

Indoor track and field invitational championship at Dalhousie.

Women’s Curling

AUS Curling Championship in Fredericton, N.B.

2 p.m. – UPEI vs. Dalhousie

7 p.m. – UPEI vs. Saint Mary’s

Men’s hockey

7 p.m. – Dalhousie at UPEI. (Senior recognition night).

Saturday

AUS swimming championship, hosted by UNB at Saint Joh, N.B.

Indoor track and field invitational championship at Dalhousie.

Women’s curling

9:30 a.m. – UPEI vs. Memorial

7 p.m. – UPEI vs. St. FX

Women’s hockey

7 p.m. – UPEI at Dalhousie

Men’s hockey

7 p.m. – UPEI vs. St. FX (Hockey Day in P.E.I. at Eastlink Centre)

Sunday

AUS swimming championship, hosted by UNB at Saint Joh, N.B.

Women’s curling

9 a.m. – Semifinal

1 p.m. – Final

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