OT Victory Sends X-Men to Nationals

OT Victory Sends X-Men to Nationals

Courtesy Glenn MacDonald, The Chronicle Herald

The St. Francis Xavier X-Men are heading to nationals.

Phil Mangan scored 50 seconds into double overtime as St. F.X. knocked off the defending CIS hockey champions 3-2 in Game 5 of the Atlantic Universities Hockey Conference best-of-five semifinal Tuesday night before an AUHC record crowd of 4,685 fans at the Halifax Forum.

St. F.X. advances to the conference final against the UNB Varsity Reds and has earned a berth to the CIS University Cup, which UNB hosts March 24-27.

Mangan, stationed near the right face-off circle, deflected a Scott Brannon shot from the boards that snuck between the pads of a bewildered Neil Conway. Mangan skated towards centre ice where he was mobbed by his teammates.

"The goal to put us in a championship against the defending nationals champs, it doesn’t get any better," a jubilant Mangan said.

"I think they were running out of gas in the overtime and we were putting it to them. They were resorting to ribbing the puck around the boards to get rid of it and I saw Scotty beat the winger to the boards. I yelled to him because I was in front and he threw it on net. It was just a slight tip."

Bryce Swan and Jason Bast had second-period goals for the X-Men, who were outshot 31-19 in regulation time, but held a 9-1 shot advantage during the 10-minute first overtime. Mangan’s goal was the first shot of the second OT.

Justin Munden and Ryan Rorabeck scored in the first period for SMU.

St. F.X. advances to its second straight AUHC final. The X-Men, who upset the Varsity Reds in the semifinals last year, lost in three straight to the Huskies in the 2010 league championship.

It’s unclear if the AUHC final will remain a best-of-five series or be shortened to a best-of-three because both teams have already qualified for nationals. The 2009 AUS championship between SMU and UNB was abbreviated to a best-of-three for that same reason. UNB won the CIS championship that year.

Length of the league final aside, the only certainty is that Game 1 of the series will begin Friday night at 8 p.m. in Fredericton.

• The attendance mark shattered the previous conference record of 3,896, which was also set by the Huskies in the deciding game of last year’s AUS final. The AUS began tracking attendance in 2003-04.