X-Men skate to 4-2 victory over Axemen

Photo courtesy Dalton King
Photo courtesy Dalton King

ANTIGONISH, NS - The StFX X-Men (6-1-2) skated to a 4-2 victory over the visiting CIS No. 5 ranked Acadia Axemen (6-2-1) in AUS hockey action Friday night at the Keating Centre.

In a scoreless first period, the X-Men were 0-for-2 on the power play, with the Axemen's top-ranked penalty kill in the conference on full display.

StFX had their best scoring chances - at even strength - in the final minute of the frame. Brandon Glover (Victoria, BC) made a couple saves on X-Men forward Brad Cuzner (Glace Bay, NS) from close quarters, while in the final 20 seconds freshman Michael Clarke (London, ON) blistered a slap shot off the crossbar.

X-Men goaltender Drew Owsley (Lethbridge, AB) had to make only two saves in the opening 20 minutes.

In the second period, the visitors came out strongly and took the lead on the power play. At 5:16, Mike Cazzola (Guelph, ON) whacked a waist-high puck from the lip of the crease behind Owsley. The marker was unassisted.

With the Axemen having much of the play in the first 10 minutes or so, sophomore forward Eric Locke (Toronto, ON) ignited the X-Men with a rush down his off wing that resulted in a goal, when his sharp angle shot from close quarters bounced in off the knee of Axemen defenseman Stephen Woodworth (Middleton, NS). Line-mate Kristoff Kontos (Penetanguishene, ON) notched the lone assist, at the 10:55 mark.

Less than two minutes later, at the 12:24 mark, Zack MacQueen (Woodstock, ON) deftly re-directed a point shot from Trey Lewis (Aldouane, NB) behind Glover.

With 41 seconds left in the second period, the X-Men doubled their advantage when MacQueen caused a turnover, before making a centering pass to Cuzner, who roofed a backhander over the glove hand of Glover. That goal would turn out to be the game-winner.

Early in the third period, Owsley preserved the two-goal lead when he made a dazzling glove save off a slap shot from Zachery Franko (Winnipeg,MB).

On the power play, at the 16:28 mark, the Axemen cut the X-Men lead in half when Kyle Farrell (Howie Centre, NS) deposited the rebound of a Matthew Pufahl (Saskatoon, SK) point shot behind Owsley.

With the Axemen net empty for an extra attacker, Steven Kuhn (Oyen, AB) sealed the X-Men win, on an assist from MacQueen.

Owsley, who blocked 12 shots in the third period, made 24 saves for the win, while Glover collected 20 stops in the loss.

The Subway player of the game and first star was MacQueen, who tallied one goal and two assists, with Cuzner and Cazzola collecting second and third star selections, respectively.

The X-Men home date served as Military Appreciation Night, which the program hosts during its last game prior to Remembrance Day (Nov. 11). There was a ceremonial face-off to honour those who have served and continue to serve Canada, at home and abroad, with Antigonish veteran Joe van Oirschot dropping the puck. He and other veterans, along with members of Royal Canadian Legion Arras Branch 59, provided a colour guard for the occasion, including the singing of O Canada by Josee Champoux.

The Axemen will be back in action Friday, Nov. 13, when they host the UNB Varsity Reds in Wolfville, while on the same night the X-Men will travel to Fredericton to face the St. Thomas Tommies.

Puck drop for both games is 7 p.m. 

WW2 veteran and Purple Heart recipient Joe VanOirschot drops the puck for Military Appreciation Night, accompanying by Private Dan Clarry.