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Panthers have something to prove


UPEI ready for first game tonight at U Sports championship

CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. —

The records mean nothing now as the UPEI Panthers get set to begin the U Sports women’s hockey championship tonight on home ice.

The seventh-seeded Panthers play the second-seeded Montreal Carabins at 7 p.m. at MacLauchlan Arena. It will take three wins for someone to be crowned national champs on Sunday night.

“We know we have a huge opportunity here,” fourth-year Panthers forward Rachel Colle said before Monday’s practice. “Let’s go out, let’s have fun and take advantage of it.”

The Panthers (14-13-1) finished fifth in the Atlantic University Sport regular season and was swept in the best-of-three quarter-final by UNB, losing 3-2 and 4-3.

“We wanted to earn our spot,” Colle said. “The fact we (went) out in the first round, we want to prove people we deserve to be here. That's the main driving factor to Thursday night.”

The Panthers were awarded the national championship for 2019 and 2020 more than a year ago. UPEI has a young squad but isn’t prepared to let that determine its outcome at the tournament.

“We’re a pretty good defensive team and we’re going to have to play to our strengths and capitalize on any chance we may get,” Colle said.

The Panthers have a shot at winning the tournament, head coach Bruce Donaldson said, but it will have to be sharp.

Camille Scherger is the UPEI Panthers starting goalie.
Camille Scherger is the UPEI Panthers starting goalie.

“We need to play really well. We need to defend exceptionally well,” he said. “We need to keep things nice and close and take advantage of opportunities.”

The Panthers will rely on second-year goalie Camille Scherger, who played every minute this season in the UPEI crease.

“If it wasn't for her, we wouldn't be at all where we are now,” Colle said.

“She’s just in her zone. She does every single thing off and on the ice in her power to be ready for every game. It’s something a lot of the girls look up to in the room.”

The Panthers traditionally don’t play in front of huge crowds during the season, but word is that will change tonight.

“It’s going to be an unreal atmosphere,” Colle said. “This is a huge opportunity for us.”

They are looking to harness that energy and use it on the ice.

The Panthers are described as a tight-knit group this season, which will be important as the intensity rises this week.

“Having no distractions in the room is a huge positive factor,” Colle said.  “We come into the room every day and have fun.”


Need to know

A look at today’s quarter-finals at the U Sports women’s hockey championship at MacLauchlan Arena:

Manitoba Bisons (6) vs. Guelph Gryphons (3)

3 p.m.

Regular season records

Manitoba – 20-5-3, lost the Canada West final to top-ranked Alberta.

Guelph – 18-3-3, won the OUA conference.

Leaders

Manitoba – Lauryn Keen had 13 goals and 13 assists for 26 points while Lauren Taraschuk had a 17-4-2 record, 1.54 goals-against average and .934 save percentage.

Guelph – Kailtin Lowy had 13 goals and 25 points to pace the Gryphons while Claire Merrick had 15 assists. Valerie Lamenta earned a 10-2-3 record with a 1.24 goals-against average and a .952 save percentage.

***

UPEI (7) vs. Montreal (2)

7 p.m.

Regular season records

UPEI – 14-13-1, lost in AUS quarter-final.

Montreal – 15-4-1, won the RESQ conference.

Leaders

UPEI – Fourth-year forward Rachel Colle had 10 goals and 10 assists for 20 points while sophomore Camille Scherger gained a 14-13-1 record with a 1.84 goals-against average and a .932 save percentage.

Montreal – Jessica Cormier had the team with 11 goals and Annie Germain had 14 assists. They each had a team-leading 23 points. Aube Racine had a 13-3-0 record with a 1.68 goals-against average and .929 save percentage.

UPEI head coach Bruce Donaldson: “It’s incredible the amount of the detail that is going on for 11 games. I’ve been involved in the Spud for a long, long time and we’ve had upwards of 180 games. This is not the Spud. It’s considerably different.”

Tickets – Ticket packages for the entire tournament are available for $50. Single game tickets are $10 for regular admission; $5 for under 18, seniors or UPEI students; free for children under five. For more information, visit gopanthersgo.ca/uswhctickets, call 902-629-6625, or drop by the Eastlink Centre box office (open Monday to Friday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.).


Award winners

A look at the award winners from Wednesday’s banquet.

Player of the year – Alex Poznikoff, Alberta.

Rookie of the year – Erika Crouse, Ryerson.

Marion Hilliard award for student-athlete community service – Jenna Gray, York.

Fox 40 coach of the year – Howie Draper, Alberta.

All-star teams

First team

G Tory Micklash, UBC.

D Erica Rieder, Manitoba.

D Lindsey Donovan, St. FX.

F Alex Poznikoff, Alberta.

F April Clark, Western.

F Jessica Cormier, Montreal.

Second team

G Tricia Deguire, McGill.

D Cristine Chao, Toronto.

D Claudia Fortin, Concordia.

F Katryne Villeneuve, Moncton.

F Autumn MacDougall, Alberta.

F Jade Downie-Landry, McGill.

All-rookie team

G Kendra Woodland, UNB.

D Rylind MacKinnon, UBC.

D Jenna MacLean, UNB.

F Tyra Meropoulis, St. FX.

F Erika Crouse, Ryerson.

F Breanne Trotter, Mount Royal.

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