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Panthers excited to start playoffs with Moncton on home ice


CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. —

Brent Andrews and Austin Levi are healthy and looking forward to a deep playoff run.

Both UPEI Panthers players dealt with injuries last year but are coming off playing all 30 regular season games and are looking to finish their university careers with post-season success.

“Last year was obviously frustrating, not being able to be at my best or contribute as much as I wanted to, especially in the playoffs,” said Andrews, who dealt with a high ankle sprain that forced him to miss the opener with Saint Mary’s last year. “This year, I am feeling really good, feeling really healthy and happy with my game.”

Levi is pleased to have played each regular season game after a shoulder injury sidelined him a year ago.

“It couldn't be a better situation,” he smiled after Monday’s practice. “I’m really excited that I’m healthy and we have a healthy team.”

Both players are in their final year of university eligibility. They know their careers are coming to an end but aren’t looking ahead. They want to stay in the moment and try to help lead the Panthers to the second round of the playoffs.

“I am excited for it. I think we have a really strong team,” said Andrews, the team captain and a Hunter River native who won the 2013 Memorial Cup with the Halifax Mooseheads. “We’re all dialed in and excited for what’s to come.”

The Panthers host the Universite de Moncton Aigles Bleus tonight in Game 1 of the best-of-three Atlantic University Sport quarter-finals.

UPDATE: Game 1 postponed due to storm.

UPEI Panthers forward Cody Payne makes a pass to a teammate during Monday’s practice at MacLauchlan Arena.
UPEI Panthers forward Cody Payne makes a pass to a teammate during Monday’s practice at MacLauchlan Arena.

It is the first time in a few years the Panthers have had home-ice advantage. They worked hard for it and want to take advantage of it.

“The playoff environment here has always been a fun place to play,” said fourth-year forward Chad Labelle. “With the crowd behind us, we just want to play for them and play for each other. It’s a tight-knit community here and we can’t wait to get things going.”

The Panthers and Aigles Bleus have a long history. The proximity of the two universities makes for a rivalry and there have been many battles along the way.

Andrews said many of those stories get talked about, particularly during alumni weekend, which took place a few days ago in Charlottetown.

Now the Panthers are ready to write the next chapter in the rivalry.

Levi didn’t hesitate when asked what it will take to be successful tonight.

“Hard work,” the Farmington Hills, Mich., defenceman said.

The Panthers are 3-1-1 against the Aigles Bleus this season. They also have seen Moncton quickly get back into games and not go away.

“They’re a good team,” Andrews said. “They’re opportunistic. You can’t turn pucks over on them or they’ll make you pay for it and they have strong goaltending. . . They’re no pushover by any means and we will have to be at our best every night for the full 60 minutes.”

Levi said the Panthers have depth that they haven’t had in recent years and a well-rounded team with skill, hard workers and guys willing to go to the tough areas to do their job.

“With the group we have this year, I think that we could go far,” Labelle said. “All the boys are really excited, and we just can’t wait to get things going.”


Playoff primer

A look at some of statistics for the UPEI Panthers and Universite de Moncton men’s hockey teams.

Records

Moncton – 14-12-4.

UPEI – 15-12-3.

Chad Labelle is in his fourth season with the UPEI Panthers men's hockey team.
Chad Labelle is in his fourth season with the UPEI Panthers men's hockey team.

Goals for

Moncton – 95.

UPEI – 101.

Goals against

Moncton – 103.

UPEI – 123.

Power play

Moncton – 13.3 per cent.

UPEI – 19.1 per cent.

Penalty kill

Moncton – 81.5 per cent.

UPEI – 74.6 per cent.

Penalty minutes

Moncton – 519.

UPEI – 711.

Top scorers

                                        GP       G          A        Pts.

Moncton

Maxime St-Cyr                 27        23         9          32

Marc-Anthony Therrien    23         9          21        30

Robbie Graham                30        12        15        27

Vincent Deslauriers          30        10        14        24

Edouard Michaud             30         8         14        22

UPEI

Kameron Kielly                30         15        28        43

Cody Payne                    30         13        15        28

Gabe Guertler                 29         11        16        27

Filip Rydstrom                 24         12        12        24

Owen Headrick               28           5         17        22

Top goalies

                                 GP        W         L         GAA     SAV%

Moncton

Etienne Montpetit      25        12        11        2.85     .923

UPEI

Simon Hofley             24        9          12        3.61     .883

Head-to-head

Sept. 26

Moncton 5 at UPEI 3

Oct. 10

Moncton 5 at UPEI 6

Nov. 2

Moncton 2 at UPEI 3

Jan. 19

UPEI 3 at Moncton 4 OT

Feb. 1

UPEI 4 at Moncton 2

Panthers defenceman Austin Levi said: “They’re a quick-strike team. They’re really good in transition. They have a lot of good skaters and smart hockey players over on that side, so we have to make sure we’re hard on that skill.”

UPDATED playoff schedule

Thursday

7 p.m. – Moncton at UPEI.

Saturday

7 p.m. – UPEI at Moncton.

Monday

7 p.m. – Moncton at UPEI.

Tickets

Tickets are $15 per seat and are available for purchase at the Eastlink Centre box office, by calling 902-629-6625 or going online at www.eastlinkcentrepei.com

Season ticket holders
Season ticket holder holding seats will be held for season ticket holder purchas. If season ticket holders are not attending either home game they are asked to communicate with the Eastlink Centre box office or UPEI Athletics administrative assistant Koren Bogle-Glenn at 902-620-5158 or kglenn@upei.ca to make the ticket(s) available to the general public

Panther Bus
UPEI Athletics and Recreation is determining interest in a Panther fan bus to Universite de Moncton on Friday for Game 2. Cost is $30 per person, includes transportation and game ticket.  To confirm your seat please contact Bogle-Glenn at 902-620-5158 or kglenn@upei.ca.


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