CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. – The UPEI Panthers can put a little space between them and last-place Moncton with a win tonight.
But the Panthers (4-9-1) know it won’t be easy, as the Blue Eagles (1-11-2) only win this year came on Nov. 1 while hosting UPEI.
Tonight’s puck drop is set for 7 p.m. at MacLauchlan Arena.
While the Panthers are not where they had hoped to be at this point in the Atlantic University Sport (AUS) season, they know the season is far from over.
“The thing I’ve learned from my first year to this year is it’s crazy what can happen in the AUS,” defenceman Ryan MacKinnon said Tuesday. “You think a team is out and then all of a sudden it’s a brand new season after Christmas. I know things haven’t been going as planned before the Christmas break (for us), but if we can end here on a good note, who knows what can happen in the second semester.”
The Panthers will be missing forward Filip Rydstrom and defencemen Bobby Zinkan, Alex McQuaid and Tanner McCabe.
“We’re kind of a MASH unit here to get to the break, so we can get some rest and get some guys healed up,” admitted head coach Forbes MacPherson. “We’re down to a shortlist of guys that will be getting a ton of minutes and we’re going to have to try and manage it somehow.”
The Panthers enter tonight with four games left before the Christmas break.
MacKinnon credited the young defencemen for stepping in and learning while playing in the best university league in the country.
“All the credit to them, they have put a lot of work in in practice and off the ice,” he said.
“You can watch as much AUS hockey as you want, but until you play your first game, you don't know what it's all about. It’s a crazy, intense league with an insane amount of skill and it keeps growing, growing every year.”
A look at this week’s schedule for UPEI Panthers varsity sports teams:
7 p.m. – Moncton at UPEI.
7 p.m. – UPEI at UNB.
6 p.m. – Acadia at UPEI.
7 p.m. – Dalhousie at UPEI.
8 p.m. – Acadia at UPEI.
3 p.m. – UPEI at St. Thomas.
Men’s hockey’s remaining games – A look at the men’s hockey team’s remaining games for the first semester.
Tonight – Moncton at UPEI.
Nov. 24 – UPEI at UNB.
Dec. 1 – UPEI at Acadia.
Dec. 2 – UPEI at Saint Mary’s.