Antigonish, NS - The U Sports #2-ranked StFX X-Men (10-4) skated to a 3-2 overtime victory over the visiting Acadia Axemen (7-5-1) in Atlantic University Sport (AUS) hockey action Wednesday night at the Keating Centre.
Freshman Cole MacDonald (Wetaskiwin, AB) notched the game-winner, at 2:28 of the extra session, after taking a lead pass from team-mate Kristoff Kontos (Penetanguishene, ON), who notched the lone assist.
Both teams engineered great chances in the end-to-end 3-on-3 overtime period.
In the first period, at the 2:38 mark, freshman forward Matt Needham (Penticton, BC) opened the scoring for StFX. Bryson Cianfrone (Stoney Creek, ON) and Adam Stevens (Bedford, NS) assisted on the power-play goal.
A short time later, the X-Men garnered a man advantage, with Holden Cook (Oshawa, ON) walking off the side boards to take a hard wrist shot, but Axemen freshman goaltender Devin Williams (Saginaw, MI) made the save and smothered the puck.
While short-handed, Boston Leier (Saskatoon, SK) got sent in on a partial breakaway for the Axemen, but Brandon Hope (Canton, MI) stretched out his left pad and glove hand to make the stop on the forward's shot from the top of the face-off circle.
Leier collected a second scoring opportunity, on the same penalty kill, but Hope steered the shot aside with his right pad.
At 11:45, defenseman Matthew Pufahl (Saskatoon, SK) sent a lead pass to a streaking Remy Giftopoulos (Ancaster, ON), who went from forehand to backhand, before stuffing the puck behind Hope. Pufahl notched the lone assist on the equalizer.
Forward Mark Tremaine (Dartmouth, NS) attempted to regain the lead for the X-Men, but Williams corralled his soft backhander from in close.
On the power play, Leier had another chance, after taking a pass from Nick Betz (Detroit, MI), in the slot, but Hope stymied him, again, with his right pad.
Late in the period, X-Men captain Eric Locke (Toronto, ON) found a streaking MacDonald, but he could not beat Williams, from the lip of the crease. Cook started the play with a cross-ice feed to Locke, who carried the puck just inside the blue line.
Regan Spears (Port Hood, NS) and Cianfrone also had chances to make it 2-1, before the end of the frame, but Williams was equal to the task.
In a fast-paced and physical second period, the teams went scoreless.
Early on, Leier bolted in on his off-wing, but the puck rolled away from him and through the X-Men crease, before he could get away a quality shot.
The best chance to start the middle frame, for the X-Men, came off the stick of Locke, who was left alone in front of the net. But, after taking a cross-ice pass from Kontos, he had to gather the puck before shooting, which gave Williams time to slide over and make the save.
Giftopoulos had a chance for his second of the night, but Hope made another right pad save.
After a strong shift, Spears ended up alone on the doorstep, but he could not get a good shot away, before Williams made another stop for the Axemen.
While on the power-play, Marc McNalty (Medicine Hat, AB) made a strong rush behind the X-Men net, before centering to Michael Clarke (Halifax, NS), who could not beat Hope with back-to-back shots.
In the third period, the X-Men started on the power play, but they could not take the lead, with their best opportunity coming off a Kontos' wrist shot.
On another man advantage, at 3:39, Locke roofed a shot over Williams, after taking a nifty cross-ice pass from Michael Clarke (London, ON). Cook collected the other helper.
With the home side protecting their one-goal edge, the Axemen received a late power-play chance.
On that man advantage, at 17:51, Pufahl showed soft hands, in the slot, when he re-directed a knee-high feed from Geoff Schemitsch (Thornhill, ON) behind Hope. Leier chipped in the second helper on the tying goal.
Hope, the Subway player of the game and first star, made 27 saves for the win, while Williams - the third star - turned aside 29 shots in the loss.
Locke received the second-star selection.
Both teams will be back on the ice Friday, Nov. 18, when the Axemen face the Dalhousie Tigers, in Halifax, while the X-Men will host the rival Saint Mary's Huskies. Puck drop for both match-ups is 7 p.m.