By Thomas Becker
Photo Janessa Hogan
The Panthers struggles continued Friday night as they let a late lead slip against the Acadia Axemen who came out on top 5-4 in a shootout.
The comeback looked complete when the Panthers (5-9-3) stormed in front of their opponent with three third period goals. However, with less than three minutes remaining in the game, Axeman Stephen Harper tied it at four, sending the match into overtime.
"That says a lot about our team," said Brett Thompson, who assisted on the game-tying goal and recorded a game-high three points (one goal, two assists). "They got on our heels and they were giving it to us, but we showed a lot of character and answered back right away."
Despite surrendering a third period lead, Axemen head coach Darren Burns credited his team's no-quit attitude.
"To get scored on three times in the third and then come back and win is great," Burns said. "I'm extremely proud of this team."
With Friday's win, Burns' squad improved to 11-5-1, while extending their win streak to four games.
Aiming to get back in the win column, the Panthers controlled the pace from the opening puck drop. Only three minutes into the game, Marcus Power fired a cross-ice pass to Brent Andrews who flew in from the slot and redirected it for the quick 1-0 lead.
Momentum shifted Acadia's way near the end of the period when they scored twice in just three minutes. Acadia capitalized on a Panthers miscue at 16:33 when Tyler Ferry got hold of a blind clearing attempt and scored the game-tying goal, his first of the season.
With seconds remaining in the period, Matthew Pufahl added to the lead with a power play marker.
The Axemen's attack continued early in second as Thompson notched his fifth goal of the season, extending the lead to 3-1.
UPEI was awarded a penalty shot shortly after, but Ryan MacKinnon was denied by goaltender Robert Steeves.
With five power plays and 10 minutes of 5-on-4 hockey, the Panthers had plenty of opportunities to put a dent in the lead. But the Axemen's defence got stronger as the period progressed, limiting the Panthers to six shots.
Defenceman Nelson Armstrong had a good look late in the period, firing a rocket from inside the blue line at Steeves who made a shoulder-high snatch to keep it at 3-1.
Determined to finish the semester on a winning note, the Panthers came into the third period firing on all cylinders. At the 7:02 mark, Cody Payne notched his team-leading tenth goal of the season to trim the deficit to 3-2.
Outhustling and outplaying their opponent, the Panthers continued to make the most of their opportunities in the period.
At 12:56 J.C. Campagna gathered a rebound off Gabe Guertler's shot and redirected it past the outstretched pad of Steeves. Less than a minute later, Guertler added his fifth goal of the season to pull the Panthers ahead 4-3.
But the lead was short-lived as Harper scored on a one-timer from the right circle off Boston Leier's feed from behind the net, sending the game to overtime.
After playing to a scoreless draw in the extra frame, the Axemen secured the win when all three skaters scored in the shootout.
The Panthers look to turn things around in the New Year when they battle the Dalhousie Tigers on Jan. 6 at MacLauchlan Arena. Puck drops at 7 p.m.