Five-goal first period leads X-Men to victory over Panthers

Photo credit Janessa Vanden Broek
Photo credit Janessa Vanden Broek

Charlottetown, PEI - Despite a strong start with two goals within the first eight minutes, the UPEI Panthers men's hockey team (10-12-1-2) was quickly stung by five goals within about 10 minutes from the St. Francis Xavier University X-Men (13-12-1-0), who went on to a 6-3 win at the MacLauchlan Arena on Friday night.

It was UPEI's fourth loss to STFX this season, with the season series now at 1-4 for the Panthers. 

Rookie goaltender Joe Ranger started the game but was pulled after STFX's fifth goal at 17:49 of the first period and replaced by veteran Jonah Capriotti.

Panthers forward Elias Cohen got the scoring underway for UPEI with a snipe of a goal at 3:21 thanks to a set-up by Kaleb Pearson. Pearson wasn't done yet with his playmaking abilities as he found Cade Kowalski alone in the high slot with a pass from the blue line, and Kowalski deked out STFX goaltender Joseph Raaymakers to extend UPEI's lead to two at 7:40.

From there, the X-Men exploded with five goals between 8:10 and 17:49, all even-strength goals scored by Zack Trott, Clark Webster, Declan Smith, and the top AUS points leader Matthew Struthers who netted two.

Smith added his second goal of the game at 9:07 in the second period assisted by Struthers, who concluded the game with two goals and two assists, extending his point streak to 24 games.

UPEI would get on the board one more time as Patrick LeBlanc fired a shot under the blocker of Raaymakers at 5:17, recording his second goal of the season.

The final shots were 34-26 in favour of the Panthers. Joe Ranger denied seven of 12 shots before being replaced by Jonah Capriotti, who denied 13 of 14 shots. Joseph Raaymakers saved 31 of UPEI's 34 shots.

Ben McFarlane was awarded UPEI Player of the Game and Matthew Struthers received STFX Player of the Game honours.

The Panthers remain in fifth place in the standings with 23 points while the X-Men are now tied with Saint Mary's (13-11-1-0) for third place with 27 points.

UPEI returns to action tomorrow night on Saturday, Jan. 27, as the last-place Dalhousie Tigers (6-17-2-0) visit the MacLauchlan Arena.

STFX next sees action on Friday, February 2nd when they will host the league-leading UNB Reds (25-0-0-0) in a 7pm game at the Charles V. Keating Centre.


Recap courtesy Reegan MacAulay, UPEI Athletics