During the two-week road stretch, the Panthers captured seven points while posting a 3-1-1 record, including a 5-4 win over the Tommies Wednesday night. It wasn't an easy seven points as the team lost top forward Darcy Ashley to an upper body injury, lost Cole MacMillan to suspension, and fell back on players playing out of position to get an edge.
Head coach Forbes MacPherson said he's been pleased with the team's fight and determination despite having their backs against the wall.
"There's nothing wrong with a little bit of adversity early in the year to test your group and see what kind of character the group has."
Opposite to them are the 1-12-1 Tommies, who have high-end forwards that are dangerous and can strike quickly. Led by forwards Shane McColgan (5 goals, 4 assists) and Colin Martin (2 goals, 4 assists), St. Thomas will use their quick pace to make UPEI uncomfortable, while the Panthers will focus on a controlled game plan centered on puck possession and cycling.
"It's real tough to play on the road in this league. We have to make sure we have a lot of energy, get off to a good start and control the game from the initial puck drop," said MacPherson.
"Any time a top forward goes down, it gives other guys an opportunity to play minutes they normally wouldn't," added MacPherson.
With several injuries to the frontline, UPEI has been forced to use their roster in creative ways to generate points, including playing defenseman Spencer Metcalfe at forward.
"It's something you don't want to do too often. But it's important to have one or two guys in your lineup that can make that transition if need be."
Through it all, the Panthers (7-6-1) still hold the final playoff spot as they look to take care of business against the Tommies before regrouping in the new year for the stretch run.
Friday will be Campus Food Bank Night with both teams asking fans to bring non-perishable food items to help stock the cupboard at the Chaplaincy Centre. The campus food bank is donation driven, open and available for UPEI students. Ticket holders for the Men's Hockey game will have free access to the Women's game, as a special ticket incentive. Men's Hockey season ticket, All Access, and Panther Package holders will have free access to both games.
Puck drops November 27 at 7 pm at MacLauchlan Arena A while the Women's Panthers host St. F.X. at 6:45 pm in Arena B.