CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. – The details of the game and how the team plays its system are more important for the UPEI Panthers men’s hockey squad than the outcome of its first exhibition game.
“But we want to win and part of that is just having competitive guys,” head coach Forbes MacPherson said Thursday.
“If you have competitive people in the dressing room it doesn’t matter if ... you’re playing a game of cards, an exhibition game or a playoff game. You want people who want to win everything they do.”
The Panthers host Moncton tonight for a 7 p.m. game at MacLauchlan Arena.
“We want to make sure we’re competing, battling for pucks, playing fast hockey,” MacPherson said.
The team has 25 guys in camp. Atlantic University Sport teams can only dress 22 skaters during the season. UPEI has three goalies, eight defencemen and 14 forwards in camp.
MacPherson has been pleased with how the first two weeks have gone.
“There’s the excitement of a new season,” he said. “There’s always a good energy. It’s the time of the year, essentially, where everybody has a clean slate.”
Practices have been efficient, and the players have brought good energy to training each day. MacPherson said he’s not focused on replacing minutes and points of the players who have not returned this season but getting the team to play a certain system. It starts with being difficult to play against and includes things like playing fast, aggressive hockey with good goaltending and being sound defensively. They are sort of the pillars of the Panthers program.
“If you’re going to get two points against our program, then you’re going to have to earn them,” MacPherson said.
The Panthers begin the regular season Wednesday, Sept. 26, when they host Moncton. They travel to UNB to play the Varsity Reds Sept. 28.
UPEI is heading south of the border the following weekend for games with NCAA squads (Quinnipiac, RPI and Maine). It resumes conference play Wednesday, Oct. 10 against Moncton.
A look at this week’s UPEI Panthers athletics and recreation sports schedule.
5 p.m. – Mount Allison at UPEI (home opener)
7:15 p.m. – Mount Allison at UPEI (home opener)
7 p.m. – UPEI at St. Thomas (exhibition)
7 p.m. – Moncton at UPEI (exhibition)
UPEI Panther cross country invitational at Victoria Park
11 a.m. – Junior high male and female (3 km)
Noon – AUS/high school female (5 km)
12:45 p.m. – AUS/high school male (6 km)
2 p.m. – St. FX at UPEI (home opener)
2 p.m. – UPEI at UNB
7:30 p.m. – Panther night out at Red Shores at the Charlottetown Driving Park.
1 p.m. – Cape Breton at UPEI.
2 p.m. – UPEI vs. Saint Mary’s, in Truro, N.S., (exhibition)
3:15 p.m. – Cape Breton at UPEI.