Antigonish, NS – In a battle of U SPORTS top ten ranked teams, the No. 2 StFX X-Men defeated the No. 7 Acadia Axemen by a 4-1 score Wednesday evening at the Charles V. Keating Centre on Bell Let's Talk night.
After exchanging first period goals, the X-Men netted two in the second period and held on for the win.
It was the Axemen who opened the scoring in the game off a Boston Leier (Saskatoon, SK) first period goal. Carrying the puck into the StFX zone along the right-side boards, Leier deked an X-Men defender and cut towards the front of the net where he wristed a shot past X goaltender Chase Marchand (Halifax, NS) over his glove shoulder. Michael Zipp (Edmonton, AB) and Taylor Makin (Lethbridge, AB) picked up assists on the goal that came at 11:47.
The X-Men replied with a power play marker with 1:19 left in the opening period as defenseman Cole MacDonald (Wetaskawin, AB) passed to Craig Duininck (St. Cloud, MN) at the top of the face-off circle, who then found Matt Needham (Pentincton, BC) in front of the Axemen net. Off the quick pass Needham one-timed the puck past goaltender Robert Steeves (St. Joseph-de-Kent NB) off the backhand to even the game at one goal apiece.
In a fairly evenly matched first period the visiting Axemen held an 11-9 shot advantage.
The X-Men scored two goals in the second period, despite being outshot 10-4. The goals came off the sticks of Cole MacDonald and Michael Clarke (London, ON) as StFX took a 3-1 advantage after 40 minutes of play.
MacDonald's goal came just over eight minutes into the period. After the X-Men did a good job to keep the puck in the Axemen zone, Jagger Dirk (Penticton, BC) unleashed a shot from the point that went wide, but a lucky bounce off the boards brought it back in front of the net and right onto the stick of MacDonald who quickly deposited it into the mesh. Holden Cook (Oshawa, ON) also had a helper.
Clarke then connected with Cook and MacDonald again at the 18:20 mark to score the X-Men's third goal. MacDonald passed through the central ice zone to Cook who brought it into Axemen territory. Clarke took a nice drop pass from his linemate Cook and roofed the puck on a quick shot high over the blocker of Steeves.
The X-Men's final goal of the evening came on the power play at 16:21 of the third period as Mark Tremaine (Dartmouth, NS) tipped in a Kristoff Kontos (Pentanguishene, ON) shot from the point. Cody Hendsbee (Richmond, ON) also assisted on the play.
Chase Marchand with 33 saves on the night picked up his league-leading 15th win of the season. Steeves turned aside 18 pucks as the Axemen outshot the home squad 34-22.
The Axemen struggled on their power play opportunities, going 0-for-10 on the night.
X-Men defenseman Cole MacDonald, with his three-point effort, was award the game's first star and Subway player of the game. StFX's Jagger Dirk was the second star and Acadia's Tyler Ferry (Richmond Hill, ON) was the third star.
With the win the X-Men improve to 20-1-4 on the season and take over sole possession of first place in the AUS standings, thanks to a UNB loss to UPEI. The Axemen drop to 15-8-2 and sit one point behind the third place Saint Mary's Huskies.
Next up on the AUS schedule sees the X-Men travel to Halifax for a Friday night game against the U SPORTS No. 6 ranked Saint Mary's Huskies. Puck drop is 7:00 pm at the Halifax Forum. The Axemen will play at the Forum Saturday night, also at 7:00 pm, against the Dalhousie Tigers.
Courtesy Krista McKenna, StFX Sports Information