Charlottetown, PE – In the first game of AUS regular season play in 2018, the UPEI Panthers skated to a 3-2 shootout victory over the U SPORTS No. 4 ranked StFX X-Men.
Second year Panthers forward Cody Payne (Davie, FL) was the shootout hero as he scored his second goal of the evening to give the home team the win. For his efforts he earned Subway player of the game and first star honors.
UPEI goaltender Matt Mancina (Windsor, ON) was the second star with 28 saves on the night, while X-Men netminder Chase Marchand (Halifax, NS) was the third star with a 29 save effort.
The X-Men thought they had opened the scoring in the game eight minutes into the first period as Matt Needham (Penticton, BC) tipped in a Cole MacDonald (Wetaskawin, AB) shot. The puck hit the back bar of the net but went in and out so fast that the on-ice officials did not see it and ruled that no goal was scored.
Santino Centorame (Mississauga, ON) made no mistake two minutes later however, as Kristoff Kontos (Penetanguishene, ON) set him up with a one-timer in front of the UPEI net while the X-Men were on the power play. Jagger Dirk (Penticton, BC) also had an assist on the goal which was the only one scored in the opening period.
Panthers forward Marcus Power (St. John's, NF) had a good chance to tie it up with a shot that was saved by Marchand but a quick whistle stifled a follow-up chance by Brent Andrews (Hunter River, PE) to knock in the loose rebound.
Power then nearly connected with teammate Beau McCue (Pasco, WA) with under a minute to play in the period. McCue's shot was saved by Marchand but loose along the goal line, and was cleared out by the StFX defenders to maintain their lead.
The home team Panthers tied it up at 1-1 early in the second period as Payne scored at 2:28. Chad Labelle (Calgary, AB) streaked up the wing then passed over in front to an open Payne who deked Marchand to score UPEI's first goal.
Both teams had several good scoring chances in the middle period but the puck stayed out of the net at both ends as the score remained 1-1 after 40 minutes.
A quick exchange of goals to start the third period resulted in a 2-2 score.
McCue scored a shorthanded goal for UPEI at 1:28, scoring from awkward angle from the side of the StFX net as he beat Marchand down low. Andrews had a helper on the play.
StFX responded right away on the same power play when Bryson Cianfrone (Stoney Creek, ON) fed Needham in the slot to tie it back up.
In a fast-paced third period, both goaltenders made some key saves to keep their respective teams in the game.
Down the stretch McCue almost put the game away for UPEI with a shorthanded, breakaway chance with just over a minute to play but he was turned aside by Marchand.
Mancina was equally strong in the Panthers net, stopping an Adam Stevens (Bedford, NS) shot in the dying seconds of regulation play. He continued his strong play in overtime with a key glove save off a Centorame shot as the X-Men power play expired.
The wide-open 3-on-3 overtime period didn't solve anything so the shootout was needed to decide the game.
The first three shooters from either side were all stopped. In the sudden death shootout, UPEI' s first shooter Payne skated in tight on Marchand and beat him high over the glove side. Mancina then stopped X-Men shooter Cianfrone for the win.
Final shots in the game favored the Panthers at 32-20.
The X-Men are back in action Saturday evening when they travel to Fredericton to take on the U SPORTS No. 2 ranked UNB Varsity Reds. The Panthers will host Dalhousie, also on Saturday night. Puck drop for both games is 7:00 pm.
Courtesy StFX Sports Information