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If you had asked UPEI hockey coach Forbie MacPherson at the start of the season if he’d be pleased with a third-place finish in the tough Atlantic University Sport conference, he would have likely answered with a wide smile.
The Panthers finished tied for third with St. FX with 15-12-3 records, but X won the head-to-head meeting to claim third place. It set the stage for the first-round playoff matchups that has Moncton playing UPEI while Acadia and St. FX.
The “we-get-no-respect” Panthers opened the best-of-three quarter-final here Thursday. The thrilling 3-2 UPEI overtime victory was against a longtime bitter rival. Those same uniforms on Thursday night brought back visions of former UPEI greats like Wilf MacDonald, Mike Ready, Terry McKenna, Dave Shellington, Rich Little, Gerry Fleming and Moncton standouts like Roch Bois, Kevin Gaudet, Chico and Dixie Belliveau, Claude Vilgrain, Pat Dodier and Charlie Bourgeois to name a few.
Panthers captain Brent Andrews notched the winner early in overtime and it was great to see as the always hard-working forward finally got rewarded for his tenacious two-way game. In many ways Andrews is a great example of the Panthers – talented, hard-working and a coach’s delight. The Panthers are in Moncton tonight for Game 2 with Game 3, if necessary, here on campus Monday.
This edition of the Panthers don’t really get the credit they deserve.
They have more depth on the forward ranks than any time in recent memory with a gifted, bonafide sniper in Kameron Kielly, who appears destined for the pro ranks after taking the same route as former Panther Joel Ward. Kielly has a great supporting cast with Cody Payne, Gabe Guertler, Filip Rydstrom, Sam Aulie, Beau McCue, Owen Headrick and a number of others plus solid goaltending in Matt Mancina and Simon Hofley.
The Island Storm plays its most important game of the season Monday at 2 p.m. at Eastlink Centre in the annual Islander Day game against the Saint John Riptide.
It’s a must-win game, as a loss and they’ll be out of the playoffs.
The Storm lost 99-93 to the Riptide Thursday in the Port City in a game they fought back from down 19 to get within two points in the final two minutes.
The Storm has been haunted by a lack of outside shooting, the lowest in the loop, and size throughout the season and it continues despite Malik Story and Terrell Carter II looking good Thursday. Story and high-scoring Sampson Carter each had 21, while Carter II bagged 15 and newcomer Daniel Dingle 17.
There’s no live harness racing in the Maritimes but there’s plenty of simulcasting racing.
Reg MacPherson’s Sock It Away was a close second in 1:55:1 last Saturday at Yonkers in a $17,500 conditioned race and he’s back in to go Monday in a $26,000 race from Post 2.
Anthony MacDonald leaves early next week for a 12-day excursion into Australia where he has been invited to speak to seven harness racing groups on fractional ownership and how it works.
Bill Andrew was active at the Ohio mixed sale this week, signing the sales slip for eight horses, including Carlotta Blue Chip, by American Ideal for $15,000 and Dime Hanover, another American Ideal for $13,500 and six others.
The mixed horse sale at Springfield, Ohio, Tuesday saw more than 300 horses go through the sales ring and the horses drew big prices.
The uproar in the race game now is the controversial sale of Hambletonian winner Atlanta. Trainer Rick Zeron owns five per cent of the mare and the partners want him out, hence the mare’s impending sale for likely more than $1 million. She’s a smallish-size mare with decent pedigree but wears trotting hobbles, which will turn off potential European buyers.
Fred MacDonald's column appears every Saturday in The Guardian. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.