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UPEI's season comes to an end at hands of well-coached UNB Varsity Reds
The UPEI men’s hockey team was knocked out of the Atlantic University Sport playoffs Monday, losing 5-0 to the UNB Varsity Reds in one of the best hockey games in this province in recent memory.
The Panthers lost the opening two games in Fredericton, N.B., 3-1 and 2-1 in overtime, setting the stage for Game 3. In this one, the Panthers faced a UNB club that played an almost perfect game. UNB’s speed and puck-moving ability prevented the hometown Panthers of spending any time in the UNB end and smothered a Panthers club that is arguably the second-best team in the conference.
The Panthers had a winning regular season record against second-place Saint Mary’s, so a case can be made they’re the second-best AUS club.
I get extremely annoyed when fans tell me the UPEI coaching staff should have done this or maybe done that. That’s foolishness. UPEI got beat by a highly skilled, talented, well-coached club that was much better than a very good Panthers club.
On Monday, the Panthers gave 100 per cent effort and there were no passengers, but UNB smothered the talented and clever Kameron Kielly and hard-working Gabe Guertler. The goaltending of Matt Mancina and Simon Hofley was first rate and the defence played very well anchored by the all-star type efforts of Doug Blaisdell and Owen Headrick.
On some nights, one has to applaud the opponent, Monday night was such an occasion.
While the curtain came down on the men’s season, the women’s puck Panthers are now thrust into the hockey spotlight as they host the Canadian championships March 14-17. The tournament will feature defending champion Manitoba, the top-ranked Alberta Pandas plus the best university women’s clubs in Canada.
Few individuals work harder at university hockey than UPEI head coach Bruce Donaldson, who toils year-around in recruiting and raising money for a university program never flush with athletic funds. You can help by supporting Bruce and his club. Tournament passes for all 11 games are $50 and can be purchased at gopanthersgo.ca/uswhctickets. The Panthers, who lost last week to UNB in a game that sidelined Bruce’s club pre-maturely, have a competitive club, but they’ll be ready to roll at nationals. More on this next week.
The Island Storm conclude a three-game home stand here Sunday at 2 p.m. at Eastlink Centre against the Halifax Hurricanes with head coach Mike Leslie after back-to-back games Thursday and Friday.
The Storm, despite missing their best player (Sampson Carter) and Tyler Scott, routed Kitchener-Waterloo 135-94 Thursday with an outstanding performance by new five-foot-eight guard Jonathan Loyd and Titanic efforts by Alex Campbell, Guillaume Boucard, Tyree White and big boy Terrell Carter II.
Also, on the basketball front, the Holland College men’s team under head coach Josh Whitty are in action today at the regional tournament in Moncton. Holland College is the No. 1-ranked college basketball team in Canada and will likely meet the Mount Saint Vincent Mystics in the final.
The NHL trade deadline on Monday saw a number of transactions, which will have huge playoff implications, especially in the Western Conference.
The Toronto Maple Leafs surprised their fans everywhere by not landing rugged defender Adam McQuaid, who could be the difference in a physical series, especially against Boston or Washington. The Leafs, like first-place Tampa Bay, have an abundance of talent but very little toughness and that was evident Thursday when Boston pushed around Tampa Bay in winning 4-1.
If you read my column last Saturday, you should not be surprised at the moves by Las Vegas and Nashville. The Golden Knights added Mark Stone, the type of player coach Gerard (Turk) Gallant loves, one who gives 100 per cent every night, who is not flashy but talented
They now join Nashville, who added Wayne Simmonds, as serious Western Conference contenders. Gallant and GM George McPhee must have conferred with Summerside’s CJ Gallant, Duke Cormier and Shannon Ellis to approve that transaction, but, whether they did or not, Las Vegas is in the Stanley Cup hunt.
The Columbus Blue Jackets were once the darlings of the P.E.I. hockey fans when Doug MacLean and company were calling the shots, and those fans that abandoned the ship when MacLean left, may be back on board with McQuaid on their blue-line.
No live harness racing in the Maritimes but plenty of activity at major up-country tracks and in the thoroughbred world via simulcast.
Sock It Away was bet down to favorite Thursday but was seventh in 1:54:3 at Yonkers in the $17,500 class. At Mohawk on Thursday Maritime-bred L Weather B (by Westwardho Hanover) took a new record of 1:55:2 in a $17,000 event for owner Steve Downey of Saint John, N.B., and driver James MacDonald. In the same race, JJ Powerball was beaten by a neck. At The Big M Friday night, Maritime-bred Filly Forty Seven was in Vs $20,000 claimers while Pappy Go Go was entered in a $13,000 trot.
Fred MacDonald's column appears every Saturday in The Guardian. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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