WOLFVILLE, NS – It was a nail-biter on Sunday night as the U SPORTS No. 7 ranked Acadia Axemen took a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five AUS semifinal series with a 1-0 win over the No. 3 ranked StFX X-Men.
The game was dominated by the goaltenders, with Axemen goaltender Robert Steeves and X-Men goaltender Chase Marchand taking second and third stars of the night, respectively. The Subway Player of the Game for the X-Men, Marchand posted 39 saves in the X net in a stellar performance.
Neither team was able to score in a first period that saw the Axemen outshoot the X-Men 11-3.
The period saw no shortage of penalties, as the teams combined for 22 minutes, including a ruckus that broke out in front of the StFX net.
Acadia nearly scored when defenseman Geoff Schemitsch broke in on the right wing and slid a pass in front of the net that slid under the pad of Marchand, but stayed out of the net.
The Axemen broke the scoreless tie 3:11 into the second period, scoring what would be the only goal of the game. Axemen forward and Subway Player of the Game Michael Clarke came out in front of the X-Men net and lifted a backhand over the glove of Marchand to make it 1-0 and score the eventual game-winner for the Axemen.
"I saw the puck behind the net and I saw the puck was sort of bobbling, so I was able to pick-pocket him and came out in front, buried my head and shot. I heard the screaming, the net moved and the rest is history," said Clarke after the game when asked to recount the goal.
"We've been rolling the lines pretty consistently and everyone is doing their jobs, not too much or anyone else's job, working hard and finishing checks and we are limiting opportunities," noted Clarke on tonight's success.
By the end of the second period, the Axemen led in shots 27-11.
Marchand made multiple outstanding saves in the StFX net in the second period, including stopping two Acadia breakaways, to keep his team in the game for the third period. The Axemen had another breakaway in the third period from forward Kyle Farrell, but Marchand turned it aside once again.
Despite pulling Marchand at the end of the game in favour of the extra attacker, the X-Men were unable to beat Axemen goaltender Steeves who turned aside all 20 shots he faced.
Neither team took advantage of their power-plays, with both teams going 0-for-6 on the night.
Now holding a 2-1 lead, the Axemen and X-Men take to the ice again in Wolfville for Game 4 on Monday evening at 7:00 pm as Acadia looks to clinch the series and StFX looks to force a fifth and deciding game back on home ice Thursday evening.
Courtesy Acadia Sports Information