There’s not much separating the UPEI Panthers and the UNB Varsity Reds as they begin their Atlantic University Sport (AUS) women’s hockey quarter-final tonight in Fredericton, N.B.
“Statistically, when you look at the teams, they’re identical. They’re a mirror image of each other,” Panthers head coach Bruce Donaldson said Wednesday. “Five-on-five, we’re very, very even.”
The conference has been so tight this season the games have often come down to special teams.
The Panthers are marginally better on the power play with the Varsity Reds holding the edge on the penalty kill.
“Typically, they don't take a lot of penalties and we’ve taken more than our fair share, so we really need to pay attention to that piece,” Donaldson said.
Another key will be getting the lead in games.
The Varsity Reds are 3-1 against the Panthers this season with UNB winning 3-1 twice and 2-0 once. UPEI won the last meeting of the season, 3-0 Saturday in Fredericton.
“That gave us a little bit of confidence,” Donaldson said.
The Reds finished fourth in the eight-team conference in its first year back in the AUS.
“The program, while its young, has matured nicely over the year and they’re well coached,” Donaldson said.
The Panthers are healthy and will be looking to have a strong playoff run before hosting the national championship.
Donaldson said it will lean on a strong core, including forwards Rachel Colle and Emma Weatherbie, defencemen Kristen MacIntyre and Caroline Daoust as well as goalie Camille Scherger.
Game 2 of the best-of-three series goes Sunday at 2 p.m. at MacLauchlan Arena.
Need to know
Breaking down the UPEI Panthers and UNB Varsity Reds women’s hockey best-of-three quarter-final.
Regular season record
UNB – 13-11-4
UPEI – 14-13-1
UNB – 53.
UPEI – 55.
UNB – 56.
UPEI – 53.
Power play percentage
UNB – 15.4.
UPEI – 16.2.
Penalty kill percentage
UNB – 86.
UPEI – 84.8.
7 p.m. – UPEI at UNB.
2 p.m. – UNB at UPEI.
7 p.m. – UPEI at UNB*