UPEI Men’s Hockey Panthers push for playoff spot

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UPEI Mens Hockey Panthers

Charlottetown, PEI (February 5, 2016)—With only four games remaining in the regular season, the UPEI Men’s Hockey Panthers face a tough test this weekend, as they look to solidify their playoff positioning.

Having clinched postseason berths already, the Acadia Axemen (17-5-2) and the Saint Mary’s Huskies (15-7-2) travel to the Island’s capital with hopes of spoiling UPEI’s chances to compete for an AUS title.“We’re still fighting and we have to scratch and claw for everything just to get in,” said head coach Forbes MacPherson of the Panthers’ pursuit for a playoff spot.With three teams jockeying for the two remaining spots, every point matters. The fifth-place Panthers hold a slim two-point lead over Université de Moncton, while Dalhousie trails by only six.“There is so much parity in this league that we’re not taking anything for granted,” said MacPherson.The Panthers are hoping to build off a weekend split where they lost a close 2-1 battle against the first-place UNB Varsity Reds, but came back the following day to defeat the St. Thomas Tommies 6-3.On Friday night, UPEI hosts a powerful Acadia squad that features three top-10 scorers in forwards Mike Cazzola (27 points), Brett Thompson (26 points) and defenceman Matthew Pufahl (25 points).At this point in the season, MacPherson said his team has to fight through fatigue and come out focused and energized if they want to stay competitive against the league’s best.“You wait 11 months a year to get to this part of the season and we expect our group to be ready to go every game.”Completing the back-to-back weekend, the Panthers face the red-hot Saint Mary’s Huskies in Saturday evening’s matchup.The Huskies won nine of their last 10 games and field a strong defensive unit led by goaltender Cole Cheveldave, who is 10-7 with a 2.20 goals against average – good for second best in the league.

“They’re built to win this year and they’re really coming into their own in the second half of the season.”Puck drops Friday at 7 pm against the Acadia Axemen and again Saturday versus the Saint Mary’s Huskies. Both games are at MacLauchlan Arena.Saturday, February 6, also marks the annual UPEI Men’s Hockey Alumni Night.The four-team mini-tournament begins at 4 pm at MacLauchlan Arena and will feature alumni players competing against one another for bragging rights. Each game is 20 minutes long.Leading up to the UPEI-SMU game that night are on-ice introductions of former Panthers, followed by a reception at the south end of the arena.
 

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