New ad­di­tion

Ber­isha joins Pan­thers for sec­ond se­mes­ter

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - SPORTS - THE GUARDIAN

Beni Ber­isha is ex­pected to make his UPEI de­but tonight when the Pan­thers be­gin the sec­ond se­mes­ter of their At­lantic Univer­sity Sport (AUS) sea­son.

The Pan­thers (8-6-1) host the St. F.X. X-Men (11-2-2) at 7 p.m. at MacLauch­lan Arena.

Ber­isha played for the Summerside Western Cap­i­tals in 2011-12 and the right-winger from Mis­sis­sauga, Ont., most re­cently played se­nior hockey in Dun­das, Ont.

“He’s a typ­i­cal UPEI player,” head coach Forbes MacPher­son said. “He works really hard, he’s really fast, he’s first on the forecheck and he’ll add a lot of en­ergy to our lineup.”

Ber­isha is the lone ad­di­tion to the ros­ter for the sec­ond se­mes­ter while the Pan­thers will be with­out for­wards Nick Czin­der and Darcy Ash­ley for the rest of the sea­son due to con­cus­sions.

“We were see­ing some of their best hockey,” MacPher­son said. “They were brought in to be topend guys and they were be­com­ing top-end guys.”

It leaves the Pan­thers with 18 skaters and three goalies.

Other than Ber­isha, “It’s the same lineup we had in Novem­ber,” MacPher­son said, when “we had some suc­cess.”

The team went 6-3 in their fi­nal month of play in 2015, de­spite play­ing with a short bench many nights.

MacPher­son said he likes the team’s strength in goal and on the blue-line and called his for­wards a com­mit­ted, hard-work­ing and hard-to-play-against group.

The X-Men are ranked sixth in the Cana­dian In­teruni­ver­sity Sport (CIS). UPEI handed them their only losses of the first se­mes­ter, de­feat­ing them 5-3 on home ice on Oct. 17 and 2-1 on Nov. 21 in Antigo­nish, N.S.

“It’s an whole new sea­son now,” MacPher­son said. “They’re a top-end team and I’m sure they’re not happy with that 0-2 record against us, so they’ll be hun­gry com­ing in Fri­day night.”

The Pan­thers host Dal­housie Satur­day at 7 p.m. at the East­link Cen­tre as part of the hockey day in P.E.I. fes­tiv­i­ties.

Women

The women’s Pan­thers will also play St. F.X., but in Antigo­nish, at 7 p.m.

UPEI (2-8-2) opened the sea­son with two wins and then went 0-8-2, in­clud­ing five one­goal losses. It leaves them look­ing up from the base­ment of the seven-team con­fer­ence, but only eight points out of sec­ond place.

“Our play­offs really prob­a­bly start this week­end,” head coach Bruce Don­ald­son said. “We need to play a lit­tle des­per­ate. We have to catch up.”

Marie-Soleil Desch­enes gets the start in goal tonight.

The Pan­thers were the most pe­nal­ized team in the con­fer­ence dur­ing the first half. Don­ald­son said he wants his play­ers to walk the fine line of play­ing ag­gres­sive with­out draw­ing penal­ties.

UPEI de­feated the X-Women (6-5-1) at St. F.X. to start the sea­son and then de­feated Mount Al­li­son.

The Pan­thers host Mount Al­li­son Satur­day at 4 p.m. in a quick turn­around.

JA­SON MAL­LOY/THE GUARDIAN

Beni Ber­isha takes a shot dur­ing Thurs­day’s UPEI Pan­thers prac­tice.

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