The two-time defending national champion Reds defeated the Panthers 5-3 and improved to 2-0-0 early in the Atlantic University Sport (AUS) men’s hockey season.
Sam Aulie gave the home side the lead with 1:12 left in the first period. The goal held up through 35 minutes despite UNB carrying the play and peppering Panthers rookie goalie Matthew Mancina.
The Reds finally were able to solve Mancina after fellow UPEI rookie Filip Rydstrom was called for a five-minute major for charging with 5:21 left in the second period.
“Giving one of the top-ranked teams in the country that much time on the power play is never a good thing,” said Panthers defenceman Ryan MacKinnon. “Anytime you go down a man, those are tough minutes, hard minutes in your end. It does take a toll.”
UNB was 3-for-7 with the man advantage and killed all four of UPEI’s chances.
Morell’s Stephen Anderson and former Charlottetown Islanders captain Oliver Cooper scored on the five-minute power play and Anderson cashed again five seconds after the penalty expired to give the visitors a 3-1 lead heading to the third.
Anderson said the first goal gave them momentum.
“We were getting a lot of shots at the goaltender, but he had a heck of a night and we just couldn't get anything by him,” he said. “We’re a kind of a team that once we get one, we seem to kind of pounce on them and get two and three, so that first one was big for us.”
Kris Bennett made it 4-1 after Kameron Kielly turned the puck over while playing defence on the power play. Kielly got that one back six minutes later, scoring his first goal in his first university game after joining the team earlier this week.
Cam Brace and MacKinnon traded goals to round out the scoring.
While the result wasn’t what the Panthers had hoped for, MacKinnon said there were a lot of positives to take from the opener.
“We had a lot of new faces. Mancina was outstanding. He deserved a lot better than that and our D corps, too, was outstanding.”
The Panthers have to find a way to get more shots on goal. They mustered only 12, including two in the second period, while UNB had 49 for the game, with 24 coming in the middle stanza.
Anderson is off to a torrid start in his third season with the Reds with five goals in two games.
“Right now, I think, I’ve got a little bit of the Irish as they say. Everything seems to be going in for me,” he said.
The Reds will look for a third straight national title when they host the University Cup in 2018. Bedeque’s Gardiner MacDougall has built a program that is always in contention for the U Sports title. It means the Reds have a target on their back every time they step on the ice.
“I think we feed off of that,” Anderson said. “Everyone seems to bring their best game against us and that’s good for us, gives us a challenge, and we have to be ready every single night.”
The Panthers travel to Moncton tonight for a 7 p.m. game. Moncton lost 6-2 to UNB on Wednesday.
A look at Friday’s Atlantic University Sport men’s hockey game at MacLauchlan Arena.
UNB – 5.
UPEI – 3.
UNB – Stephen Anderson 2, Oliver Cooper, Kris Bennett and Cam Brace.
UPEI – Sam Aulie, Kameron Kielly and Ryan MacKinnon.
UNB – Randy Gazzola 2, Christopher Clapperton 2, Marcus McIvor, Alex Dubeau, Kris Bennett and Cam Brace.
UPEI – Brent Andrews 2, Darcy Ashley 2 and Marcus Power.
UNB – Alex Dubeau, nine saves on 12 shots.
UPEI – Matthew Mancina, 44 saves on 49 shots.
UNB – 3-for-7.
UPEI – 0-for-4.
UNB – 8.
UPEI – 45.