Antigonish, NS - The UPEI Panthers defeated the StFX X-Men by a 5-3 score on Saturday evening, handing them their second loss of the weekend.
The Panthers were able to overcome an early one-goal deficit and, after the initial ten minutes, were the dominant team throughout the evening's contest.
StFX opened the scoring one minute and one second into the game on a Matt Needham(Penticton, BC) goal. At the end of a long shift Needham was parked in front and Sam Studnicka (Windsor, ON) made a nice pass from behind the net and Needham made no mistake. Adam Laishram (Ashburn, ON) drew the second assist.
StFX made several nice plays at the blue line early on. They were able to gain the UPEI zone and create quality scoring chances. One particularly fine play was by Nathan Pancel (Ottawa, ON), who expertly received a Cole MacDonald (Wetaskiwin, AB) pass and softly threaded a pass through the UPEI defenceman's legs to an oncoming Lane Cormier (Hopewell, NS). Cormier drove into the slot and forced UPEI goalie Matthew Mancina (Windsor, ON) to make a good save.
StFX received the first power-play of the game and moved the puck around crisply. Sharp shooting rookie Matt Graham (Bedford, NS) surely thought he had another goal only for UPEI's Andrew Picco (Mount Herbert, PE) to make a goal saving block.
The Panthers used their speed through the neutral zone, with Kameron Kielly (Charlottetown, PE) showcasing his skills. As the end of the first period approached the Panthers drew level with the X-Men. Cody Payne charged into the neutral zone and ended his shift with a rebound goal from a Troy Lajuenesse (Dokis, ON) shot.
With nine seconds remaining in the first period, Doug Blaisdell (Deerborn Heights, MI) rifled a wrist shot off the crossbar and behind X-Men netminder Chase Marchand (Halifax, NS). The assists went to Kielly and Owen Headrick (Garden River, ON) as the visitors took a 2-1 lead after 20 minutes. Shots favoured UPEI at 12-10.
The second period was a scoreless one, shots were 10-8 for UPEI as they dominated the play.
Early in the third period the Panthers returned to the power-play and Owen Headrick (Garden River, ON) put a shot through the legs of Marchand to put the Panthers up 3-1. Kielly, playing the point, made a great pass to find Headrick as the second assist went to Gabe Guertler (Plantation, FL).
The X-Men would later draw a goal back courtesy of a short-handed marker by Graham. He picked up the puck at the red line and used his great speed to give himself enough space to fire a shot off the post and past Mancina.
With time running down in the period and StFX on the power-play, the X-Men called timeout. Coach Peddle's drawn up play from the face-off play worked a charm as X pulled within a goal at 4-3. Needham won the face-off and X controlled the puck and, with two quick passes from Adam Stevens (Bedford, NS) and Mark Tremaine(Dartmouth, NS), the puck ended up on the stick of Holden Cook (Whitby, ON), who fired a shot into an open net. The assist marked a milestone for the fourth year forward as it was his 100th career AUS point.
With the seconds ticking down in the game, Lajuenesse rounded out the Panthers scoring with an empty net goal to seal the 5-3 victory.
Final shots were a slight 31-30 edge for the Panthers.
Next on the AUS schedules sees the Panthers host the Acadia Axemen next Friday evening, November 25th. The X-Men will also be on home ice on Friday night as they host the Dalhousie Tigers.