Antigonish, N.S. - In a battle of top-10 teams in the CIS, the UNB Varsity Reds (14-3-2) skated to a 3-2 overtime victory over the visiting StFX X-Men (13-4-2) in AUS hockey action Saturday night at the Keating Centre.
With the victory, the Varsity Reds pulled ahead of the X-Men in the standings. The teams were tied for second place in the AUS.
Defenseman Jordan Murray (Riverview, NB) notched the winner at the 4:22 mark of the sudden-death extra session to seal the deal for the visitors.
After Philippe Halley (Quebec City, QC) gained the X-Men zone off the rush, and maintained puck possession, he found Murray just inside the blue line, who scored on a low shot through a screen.
In a fast-paced first period, the #7-ranked X-Men opened the scoring at the 12:52 mark, when Eric Locke (Toronto, ON) forced a turnover deep in the UNB zone. He then found Holden Cook (Oshawa, ON) in the slot, who beat Varsity Red goaltender Etienne Marcoux (Terrebonne, QC) with a quick snap shot.
Just 26 seconds later, the #4-ranked Varsity Reds evened the contest when Francis Beauvillier (St. Hyacinthe, QC) streaked down the left wing and beat X-Men goaltender Drew Owsley (Lethbridge, AB) five-hole with a sharp-angled attempt. Christopher Caissy (Campbellton, NB) collected the lone assist.
The X-Men regained a one-goal edge when Locke forced another cough-up behind the net in the Varsity Red zone. Cook notched his second of the game, when he deposited a centering pass behind Marcoux at the 19:43 mark.
With just more than one second left in the first period, the Varsity Reds made it 2-2, when Taylor MacDougall (New Maryland, NB) caught Owsley flat-footed and beat him from the side boards from a sharp angle. Philippe Halley (Quebec City, QC) and Jordan Murray (Riverview, NB) garnered the assists.
The X-Men out-shot the Varsity Reds 15-13 in the first period.
There was plenty of action in a scoreless second period, as both goalies made key saves to keep the score knotted.
Cameron Brace (Markham, ON) had the first big chance for the Varsity Reds, but Owsley was able to make a blocker save.
Steven Kuhn (Oyen, AB) replied with an opportunity off a Varsity Red turnover, but Marcoux was equal to the task between the pipes.
Cook almost completed the natural hat-trick, but his rebound attempt from a Nathan Chiarlitti (Maple, ON) point shot, on the power play, trickled just wide.
Later in the period, Locke got a step on UNB defender Matt Petgrave (Brampton, ON) and was in alone on Marcoux, who stretched to make a sparkling glove save on a low snapshot.
On special teams, the X-Men came up empty on four consecutive power plays. When they had the final man-advantage late in the middle frame, the Varsity Reds came up with the best scoring chances.
Tyler Carroll (Strathroy, ON) broke down the left wing, but Owsley made consecutive quality saves on the UNB forward. And, a short time later, Dylan Willick (Kamloops, BC) broke in on a two-on-one and rang a hard shot off the crossbar.
UNB out-shot StFX 16-11 in the second period.
Owsley made the first big save of the third period, when he thwarted a Halley wrist shot with the blocker.
A short time later, Marcoux made a glove save on Michael Clarke (London, ON), who had darted into the UNB zone.
Beauvillier got in alone on Owsley, but the X-Men keeper made the save.
In the final minutes of the third, UNB defenseman Alex Wall (Mount Pearl, NL) made an end-to-end rush, but Owsley preserved the tie when he made a stellar save of an in-tight try.
Owsley repeated the feat a few moments later, when he acrobatically robbed Brace from the lip of the crease.
Marcoux turned aside 36 shots for the win, while Owsley made 39 saves in the loss.
The Subway player of the game and first star was Murray, while Owsley and Cook collected second and third star nods, respectively.
Both teams will be back in action Friday, Jan. 22, with the Varsity Reds visiting Halifax to face the Saint Mary's Huskies, while the X-Men will be in Moncton to face Les Aigles Bleus.
Puck drop for both games is 7 p.m.