By Thomas Becker
After playing inspired hockey last week, the UPEI Panthers lacked the same energy in Wednesday night's 7-1 loss to the Université de Moncton Aigles Bleus.
Moncton (13-10-6), meanwhile, had something to prove after dropping three of their previous four games to the Panthers (10-14-5).
"We always had trouble against UPEI and today we just wanted to play our best before playoffs," said Robbie Graham, who scored two goals and added a helper.
Teammate Alexis Roy recorded a goal and two assists in the win, while Vincent Millette, Alexandre Jacob, Vincent Deslauriers and Danick Crete also found the back of the net. Maxime St-Cyr and Vincent Lanoue had two assists each.
"Our last game against Acadia was pretty good too, so we just wanted to carry it over to today," Graham said.
Both teams got off to slow starts with shots coming at a premium. However, the Aigles Bleus finally broke the scoreless game at 15:27 when the puck deflected to Millette's stick before sending a one-timer past Simon Hofley five-hole.
The visitors carried that little momentum into the second period, where they took over. Graham's hustle early in the period led to his team's second goal as he gathered his own rebound, passed it through his legs in front to Jacob, who put it away.
Frustration set in shortly after, as Panther rookie Drake Pilon was sent to the box for cross checking, followed by a slashing penalty on Filip Rydstrom 25 seconds later. Moncton took full advantage and at 7:51 Deslauriers delivered a cross-ice pass to St-Cyr, who found Graham in front of the net for the beautifully executed power play goal. Deslauriers made it 4-0 just 42 seconds later when the puck cycled to him at the top of the right circle where he fired a laser past Hofley.
The Panthers came out of the second intermission with a bit more energy and managed to get one by Étienne Montpetit early in the period. Nathan Yetman gathered the puck in the left corner and sent a short pass to Bobby Zinkan who slammed it in the top corner at 3:28. Aside from that goal, Montpetit did his part to shutdown the opponent as he recorded 23 saves.
Moncton ended any thought of comeback as Graham put away the rebound off Roy's harmless shot from the point just 52 seconds later. Crete then added another goal at 5:52 to make it 6-1. The defenceman saw UPEI's defence retreating and fired a clean slap shot past Hofley. With four seconds remaining, Roy scored the team's third power play goal of the game to put this one to bed 7-1.
The win moved the Aigles Bleus in a tie for third place with the Saint Mary's Huskies.
"We still have a chance at third, but it depends on what they do too, so we'll see what happens this weekend," Graham said.
The Panthers close out the regular season Friday night in Fredericton, where they'll take on the UNB Reds.
Photo Credit: Janessa Hogan