Antigonish, NS - The StFX X-Men defeated UPEI Panthers by a 6-3 margin Friday evening at the Charles V Keating Centre. The crowd of over 400 people were treated to 60 minutes of physical hockey, with both teams taking advantage of their power play opportunities.
StFX's win saw first-year netminder Blade Mann-Dixon (Antigonish, NS) turn aside 30 of the 33 shots he faced during the game to pick up his fourth win of the season. The X-Men saw six different goal scorers in the game for a full team effort that snapped a three-game losing skid.
The opening period set the tone for the game, when Panthers right winger Cody Payne (Davie, FL) took the game's first penalty four seconds into play, serving two minutes for slashing during the opening faceoff.
The X-Men opened the scoring 6:53 into play when a shot from Adam Laishram (Ashburn, ON) deflected off a skate and past Panthers goaltender Simon Hofley (Ottawa, ON). Laishram's shot was assisted by Bailey Webster (Kensington, PE) and Lane Cormier (Hopewell, NS).
PEI answered StFX's opening goal less than four minutes later. Following a scrum in front of the UPEI net that the hometown crowd mistakenly celebrated as a StFX goal, UPEI forward Kameron Kielly (Charlottetown, PE) entered the StFX zone alone and fired a shot past Mann-Dixon on the breakaway.
Capitalizing on their second powerplay of the opening frame, Cole MacDonald (Wetaskiwin, AB) held the blue line and slid the puck to StFX captain Mark Tremaine (Dartmouth, NS). He fired a wrist shot from the slot, beating Hofley top corner and allowing the blue and white to end the opening period with a 2-1 lead
Shots in the period favoured UPEI at 9-8.
Halfway through the second period StFX scored their second power play goal of the evening. Following a play by Holden Cook (Whitby, ON) and MacDonald, Nathan Pancel (Ottawa, ON) wired a shot through traffic and beat Hofley giving the X-Men a 3-1 lead.
StFX added their third and final powerplay tally of the evening at 11:52, while UPEI was serving a bench minor for too many men on the ice. What would turn out to be the game winning goal came from Regan Spears (Port Hood, NS) off assists by Adam Stevens (Bedford, NS) and Pancel.
UPEI's Owen Headrick (Garden River, ON) made a beautiful play off the faceoff, scoring with less than two minutes remaining in the second period to bring the score to 4-2.
Shots in the second period favoured StFX 10-9.
Despite valiant attempts to regain a balance in the game, the Panthers were unable to catch the X-Men. StFX added to their lead with 12:40 left to play when Matt Needham (Penticton, BC) scored off helpers from Adam Holwell (St. John's, NL) and Cook.
UPEI gained some ground off a power play goal from Filip Rydstrom (Stockholm, SWE) at 11:09. Headrick passed across the ice to Kielly who slid into the circle and passed to Rydstrom on the side of the net. Rydstrom beat Mann-Dixon after several attempts, but the Panthers were unable to keep the momentum going.
Sealing the 6-4 win for StFX with less than a minute to play, Stevens scored on the empty UPEI net off an assist from Tremaine.
Final shots in the game favoured UPEI 33-22. Panthers forward Kielly was named the third star of the game, while StFX's Mann-Dixon was second star and Tremaine took home first star and Subway player of the game honours with a goal and an assist.
Both teams are back in action again Saturday evening with StFX hosting UNB and UPEI visiting Dalhousie. Puck drop for both games is at 7pm.
Courtesy Kiana Pace, StFX Sports Information