By Thomas Becker
A misplay by the goaltender and the hustle of UNB's Cam Brace led to the winning goal Saturday night, as Oliver Cooper sealed UPEI's fate 3-2.
"Cam made a nice play pressuring the goalie and was able to poke the puck to me and luckily I was in the right spot at the right time," said Cooper, who was named Subway Player of the Game.
Desperate to snap their six-game skid, the Panthers (2-7-1) were the ones attacking early and often. And at 7:47, Kameron Kielly sniped his fifth of the season five-hole on Alex Dubeau as the puck trickled past the goal line, giving them the early 1-0 edge.
After surrendering the goal, the Varsity Reds (9-0-1) kicked it into another gear and knotted the score just five minutes later on a Tyler Boland goal.
The Varsity Reds came out physical in the second period and dominated possession early, but Matt Mahalak was up for the test – especially on the penalty kill – denying the oncoming attacks.
With a chance to pull ahead on the power play, the Panthers coughed it up in the neutral zone, where Dylan Willick went in alone to beat Mahalak top shelf for the short-handed marker. However, UPEI's Riley Whittingham tied it up at two apiece just two minutes later on a great individual effort past Dubeau.
UPEI held their own against the league's top team for the majority of the game. But an error in judgment at the 7:25 mark of the third period was costly, when Mahalak came out too far to retrieve the puck. As he was trying to clear it, Brace raced down the ice to meet him and managed to poke the puck in front of the net for Cooper, who delivered the game-winning tally.
"I think for us, it's the way we work," Cooper said. "We got pucks in deep, we stuck to our system and even when things weren't going right for us, we stuck to the game plan and it paid off for us."
The Panthers look to snap their seven-game losing streak when they host the visiting Dalhousie Tigers on Nov. 10 at 7 p.m.