By Thomas Becker
The UPEI Panthers did everything they could, but sometimes great goaltending wins out in the end.
That's what happened Friday night when Dalhousie's Reilly Pickard made 49 saves in a 4-3 shootout win.
The win was their first since opening night (Sept. 26) and ended a nine-game losing streak.
"It's great to finally get the win," said Pickard, who was named the Subway Player of the Game. "That losing streak was tough on all of us, but hopefully this will be good for our morale moving forward."
While the netminder was outstanding, he didn't get off to good start, as the Panthers (5-5-1) deposited the first goal of the game just 2:23 in. Riley Whittingham's relentless effort paid off as he jabbed home the rebound to give the home team a 1-0 advantage.
After sophomore forward Andrew Shewfelt tied it up at 9:07, the Tigers (2-9) came back again and quickly took the lead just 38 seconds later. Mike Evelyn was given a gift after the puck rolled of Simon Hofley's shoulder and in to put Dalhousie ahead 2-1.
Early in the second, UPEI had a great opportunity to get the equalizer while on the two-man advantage, but the Tigers' defence held strong and quieted their opponent's threatening attack. The Panthers struggled with their special teams play throughout the game and finished just 2-of-8 on the power play.
"I credit all the guys in front of me. We blocked a ton of shots tonight and it was a full team effort," Pickard said. "We got in some penalty trouble but there was a full commitment from our team blocking shots."
Colton Heffley temporarily gave the Tigers the lead back midway through the third before UPEI's top goal-scorer, Kameron Kielly, went to work and rifled a shot past Pickard to send the game to overtime.
The 3-on-3 extra frame resulted in a stalemate and in the shootout, defenceman Aiden Jamieson was the only shooter to connect on his shot, finally putting an end to Dalhousie's skid.
Pickard said he was encouraged with the way his team battled and the resilience they showed on the ice.
"Every time they [UPEI] seemed to get back in the game we always responded well and we ended up with the two points."
The Panthers look to get back in the win column when they face the visiting St. FX X-Men on Nov. 10 at 7 p.m.
Photo Credit: Janessa Hogan