Huskies top Panthers 4-3 to advance to AUS semifinals

Photo by Nick Pearce
Photo by Nick Pearce

(HALIFAX, N.S.) - With the season on the line, the Saint Mary's Huskies beat the UPEI Panthers 4-3 in Game 3 of the Subway AUS Men's Hockey Playoffs quarter-final round at the Halifax Forum. 

"I thought both teams came to play," said Huskies head coach Trevor Stienburg. "We stuck together as a team that had been through adversity and believed in each other." 

The win gave the Huskies a 2-1 victory in the series. They now advance to face the top-ranked UNB Varsity Reds in the AUS semifinals.  

"[We're] just trying to let tonight's success sink in," said Stienburg. "We'll have to try and deal with UNB this week at practice." 

Eric Brassard (St. Hubert, Que.) made 35 saves in the win boosting his career AUS playoff record to 2-1 and moves him to 1-0 in elimination games 

Kyle Pereira (Brampton, Ont.), Steven Johnson (Moncton, N.B.) and Hunter Garlent (Thorold, Ont.)—with twolit the lamp for the Huskies.

Garlent continued his torrent pace in his rookie season with four goals in his first three playoff games including the series winner. 

Cody Payne (Davie, Florida), Nelson Armstrong (Peterborough, Ont.) and Marcus Power (St. John's, N.L.) scored for the Panthers. 

Matt Mahalak (Monroe, Michigan) made 28 saves in the loss. 

Pereira opened the scoring 9:44 into the first. Anthony Repaci (Toronto, Ont.) won a battle down low and sent a centering feed across the top of the crease into the left corner. Johnson played the puck off the wall right back to Pereira at the top of the circle who clapped a one-timer off the post and in glove side. 

Payne knotted it up 1-1 at the 7:12 mark of the second. He flipped the puck out of the Panthers zone cross ice to Gabe Guertier (Plantation, Florida) who worked in on the right wing and in behind the net before sliding a feed into the low slot that Payne pounced on and sent high blocker.  

Just like in game one the score was tied up at 1-1 heading into the third. 

Garlent made it 2-1 Huskies 9:31 into the final frame. Repaci intercepted a pass in the Panthers zone on the left half wall and his centering feed went right through again off the right corner and back to Stephen Gillard (St. John's, N.L.) on the right point. 

Gillard sent it down low to Bronson Beaton (Springhill, N.S.) who got it back to Gillard, this time Gillard fired a shot that created a scramble rebound. Garlent found the loose puck in the crease and sent it in. 

Johnson gave the Huskies a two-goal lead just 20 seconds later. Steven Shipley (Ilderton, Ont.) got on the puck in the Panthers zone and drove hard for the front of the net. The puck was knocked into the high slot onto the stick of Johnson who turned and fired a wrister high blocker. 

Armstrong got it back to a one-goal game with 7:31 left in the third with a power-play marker. Ryan Mackinnon (Summerside, P.E.I.) and Armstrong played catch on the blue line before Mackinnon took it into the middle of the ice from the right wall and worked a switch with Armstrong. 

Mackinnon put it right in Armstrong's wheelhouse and he one-timed it through an attempted shot block low glove.  

Power tied it up at 3-3 with 2:52 remaining in the third. Darcy Ashley (Brooklyn, P.E.I.) sent the puck back to Mackinnon on the right point.  He fired on goal through a screen and Power battling in front tracked the rebound and knocked it in. 

Garlent was the hero for the Huskies with just 32 seconds left in the third. A stick to the face of Johnson on the previous play led to Garlent being on the ice with the usual Shipley, Johnson and Connor McGlynn (Oakville, Ont.) line.

McGlynn won the puck after a tie up on the face off and got it to Shipley in behind the net. Shipley worked around and sent it to Gillard at the top of the right circle. Gillard with his head up the whole way made a backdoor slap-pass right to Garlent and Garlent buried it into an open net.  

"[It] was a steady pull on the rope tonight," said Stienburg. "We got some timely goals and goaltending."  

The Panthers were one for three on the power play, while the Huskies were zero for four. 

Shots were 38-32 in favour of the Panthers. Overall the Panthers outshot the Huskies 99-85 in the series. 

The Huskies will face the UNB Varsity Reds in the AUS best-of-five semi-final series. Games one and two have been set for Thursday, Feb. 23 & Friday, Feb. 24th in Fredericton. The remainder of the schedule will be released early this week. 
 

Source: Cam Honey-Webb for Saint Mary's Athletics Communications

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