Antigonish, NS – The StFX X-Men handed the U SPORTS No. 1 ranked UNB Reds their first regulation loss of the 2018-19 season Saturday night at the Charles V. Keating Centre, playing to a 4-2 win.
The win was a hard fought one for the X-Men who were outshot 29-16 by the top-seeded Reds. Three of their goals came on the man-advantage in a game that saw 62 minutes of penalty infractions handed out. The physical, high paced game saw veteran X-Men goaltender Chase Marchand (Dartmouth, NS) turn aside 27 of the 29 shots faced.
X-Men head coach Brad Peddle was pleased with the effort of his team, commenting "It was a complete team effort from start to finish. We asked everyone to do their job tonight and they were very focused, very disciplined – aside from some late penalties in the third period."
The late game penalties found the X-Men on the penalty kill for the remaining three minutes of the third period. The Reds pulled goaltender Rylan Parenteau (Saskatoon, SK) to go on a 6-on-4 advantage, then less than a minute later the X-Men were called on another minor infraction so the Reds had a 6-on-3 power play for 1:20.
They cashed in with a late goal by Matthew Boucher (Los Angeles, CA) after crashing the StFX net but time ran out and the X-Men held on for the 4-2 victory.
Coach Peddle noted, "It wasn't the third period we wanted, and some of that was out of our control, but I really liked how the guys responded and dug in to kill off those important penalties."
StFX forward Matthew Graham (Bedford, NS) set the tone in the game - scoring just over a minute into play, going top corner on Parenteau off a play from Nathan Pancel (Ottawa, ON) and William Thompson (Fredericton, NB).
StFX's lead doubled four minutes later, while they were 15 seconds into a 5-on-3 power play, with Holden Cook (Whitby, ON) gaining his first point of the evening. Cole MacDonald (Wetaskiwin, AB) and Cook passed back and forth in the offensive zone until Cook fired a shot past Parenteau to bring the score to 2-0.
Shots in the first period favoured the X-Men 10-9.
Opening the scoring early again in the second frame Graham added his second goal of the evening, this time on the man advantage, at 2:04. Graham entered the UNB zone with Adam Holwell (St. John's, NL) and Regan Spears (Port Hood, NS) then dropped the puck back for Spears who cycled with Holwell. Holwell then brought the puck in front of the net for Graham to backhand a shot past Parenteau.
UNB got on the board as they capitalized on the man advantage midway through the second period. Stationed at the point, Randy Gazzola (Thorold, ON) passed cross-ice to Olivier LeBlanc (Quebec City, QC) who then fired a slapshot past Marchand who was screened by Reds forward Kris Bennett (Brampton, ON).
With StFX again on the power play, Bryson Cianfrone (Stoney Creek, AB) scored the blue and white's fourth and final goal of the evening. Cianfrone started the breakout from his own end and passed to Cook in the neutral zone, Cook then passed to Adam Stevens (Bedford, NS) along the boards. Stevens got the puck to Cianfrone in front of the net, allowing him to tip it past Parenteau.
Despite being outscored 2-1 in the middle period, shots favoured UNB at 12-5.
The final frame saw both teams fight to the end to see their team victorious, resulting in a continuous stream of players in and out their respective penalty boxes.
The only goal in the period came with just 21 seconds left to play from Boucher as he was able to get a shot past Marchand just as the Reds power play expired. This unassisted goal brought the score to 4-2 in favour of the X-Men.
Total shots in the game favoured UNB 29-16.
For his two-point effort, X-Men forward Holden Cook was named the game's first star and Subway player of the game. Graham, with two goals for X, was the second star and veteran Reds forward Chris Clapperton (Cap D'Espoir, QC) was the third star.
The win marked the second one in as many nights for the X-Men (11-8-2) who now find themselves tied for third spot in the AUS with UPEI (11-8-2). The Reds (18-1-3) remain in top spot with a 10 point edge over second place Saint Mary's (14-7-1)
StFX will visit Saint Mary's on Wednesday, January 16th for their next AUS action. UNB will also play on January 16th as they host fifth place Moncton (10-8-3). Puck drop for both games is 7:00 pm.
Courtesy Kiana Pace/Krista McKenna, StFX Sports Information