(FREDERICTON, NB) It wasn't easy, but the UNB Varsity Reds now hold a two-games-to-none lead in their best of five AUS semi-final series with the UPEI Panthers.
Etienne Marcoux allowed a goal on the first shot he saw, but then stopped 24 of the next 25 shots he faced, leading UNB to a 5-2 win, and a strangle-hold in the series.
Craig MacLauchlan and Marcus Power scored for the Panthers.
MacLauchlan's goal came while UNB was on the power-play.
He capitalized on a turn-over at the UPEI blue-line and raced the length of the ice, beating Marcoux, high on his glove side.
Thomas' first of the playoffs evened the score, about six minutes later.
"Get it on net and you never know what can happen," said Thomas. "I just tried to get it on net and it went somewhere, through his pads."
Murray's goal, on the power play, gave UNB a 2-1 lead after one period.
Clapperton's power play goal came just 18 seconds into the second, and UNB appeared poised to run away.
But, the Panthers rallied.
On one of seven UPEI power plays, Marcus Power pulled the visitors back to within a goal.
But, Rob Mignardi's first of the playoffs, at 16:18 of the second, restored UNB's two goal edge.
The teams played an even third period, Boudens potting an empty-netter to seal the win.
"You've got to give our penalty killers credit," said Varsity Reds head coach Gardiner MacDougall. "We were tested, mentally, passed most of the tests, and there's parts of our game that we have to change. We've got a big game three coming up."
UPEI had chances.
Three times, the Panthers had extended 5-on-3 power plays. But, three times, they were pushed back.
"Looking back, three opportunities like that, they're just golden chances and you've got to capitalize, especially against this team," said Panthers head coach Forbes MacPherson.
The series now shifts to Charlottetown for game three, on Monday night, and game four, if necessary, on Tuesday.
"We have to battle to get that first win at home. They took care of home ice advantage, we have to find a way to take care of ours," said MacPherson.
Mike Thomas and the Varsity Reds, meanwhile, are looking to spoil the Panthers' party.
"The game in hand is always the most important and we're just going to get ready for Monday, and focus on Monday, and just take it one game at a time."
Game three, at UPEI's Cari Complex, is scheduled to start at 7:00PM.