By Thomas Becker
The Tigers matched UPEI's production with a balanced attack with four players hitting the score sheet, while Duncan MacIntyre delivered the shootout winner. Brett Crossley earned Subway Player of the Game honours with a goal and an assist, joining teammate Jonathan Cyr who also finished with two points.
After a heartbreaking shootout loss on Wednesday, Dalhousie had no intention of facing the same fate.
"Anytime you come into an opponent's rink and grab two points, that's huge," Crossley said. "Three out of four points in a league that's as competitive as this one is a good weekend."
The first period was very much a feeling out process as both teams struggled to generate scoring opportunities. However, the Tigers managed to get 12 shots off to UPEI's three.
There was a bit of controversy three minutes into the second period, when Dalhousie looked to score on the power play but was ruled no goal after the net was knocked off. Instead of getting worked up over the call, the Tigers went back to work. Seconds after the power play ended there was a flurry of activity in front of net where Aiden Jamieson put home the puck for the 1-0 advantage.
At 14:45, Dillon Boucher found Crossley at the bottom of the left circle where he sniped a shot past Simon Hofley to push the lead to 2-0.
That seemed to spark the Panthers who broke through in a big way moments later. At 18:17, Jesse Annear sent a long pass from the defensive zone to Kielly, who sprung free and beat Reilly Pickard one-on-one.
Maksimovich was active on the ensuing shift and kept puck in the zone before Owen Headrick found him leaking to the left side of the net, where he deposited his first AUS goal to tie it at two apiece.
The Tigers capitalized on a Panther miscue just 26 seconds later when Jonathan Cyr picked off a lazy pass and beat Hofley blocker side to take a 3-2 advantage into the third.
The visitors continued where they left off and on an odd man rush at 4:26, Crossley sent a cross-ice pass to Andrew Shewfelt, who put away the easy goal by the sprawling goaltender.
Midway through the period, Kielly freed himself again this time on a long feed from Nick Shumlanski and didn't disappoint as he tucked it home, trimming the deficit to 4-3.
Looking for the equalizer in the final minute and a half, Hofley raced to the bench for the extra attacker and it paid off. After Kielly's shot from the right circle was saved, Drake Pilon jabbed at the puck before Maksimovich put it away, sending the game to overtime.
"It's tough letting in that goal late in the game, but the biggest thing is you have to stay even-keeled," Crossley said. "Every shift is a new one and you have to be clear minded and focused on the task at hand."
After overtime solved nothing, it took five shooters to determine a winner with MacIntyre delivering the final blow.
"It's tough, but we were trailing the whole game and we persevered through all that to get a point, which is huge," said Maksimovich following the loss. "When it comes down to a shootout, it's up in the air and it can go either way."
Even in a loss, the most encouraging sign from the Panthers is their promising young players, who contributed right away and showed they belong on the AUS stage.
"It's fast hockey and it was a bit of a slow adjustment, but I think I found my stride in the second and started clicking with my linemates," Maksimovich said.
UPEI will look for their first win of the season when they travel to Antigonish for a Saturday night battle against the St. FX X-Men.
Photo Credit: Janessa Hogan