Charlotteotown, PE – The StFX X-Men fell 4-1 to the UPEI Panthers Saturday night in the final regular season game of the AUS season. With the win the Panthers (15-12-3) captured fourth place and home ice advantage in the opening quarter-final round of the playoffs, upcoming next week.
The X-Men (15-12-3) locked up third place, despite playing with a short bench and only 12 skaters for the second consecutive night.
UPEI seniors Sam Aulie and Brent Andrews each scored in their final regular season game, while Doug Blaisdell and Gabe Guertler chipped in with a goal each. Kameron Kielly recorded a pair of assists for the second straight night.
"It feels amazing," Aulie said of clinching home ice advantage. "After the New Year, that was our goal and we achieved it."
UPEI will host the Université de Moncton Aigles Bleus in the best-of-three quarter-final series while the X-Men will host the Acadia Axemen.
UPEI looked to take advantage of the X-Men's thin lineup from the opening puck drop. They pushed the puck with pace and were aggressive in their attack. Fortunately for StFX, Chase Marchand came to play. The third-year goaltender made 20 of his 48 saves in a scoreless first period.
However, the home team would find the back of the net just 50 seconds into the second frame, when Blaisdell sailed a wrister from just inside the blue line that beat Marchand.
Off a Guertler faceoff win five minutes later, Kielly found Aulie in front of the net, where he jabbed the puck in for his third goal in the last two games.
The Panthers got a much-needed insurance marker midway through the third period, when Kielly sent a short backhand pass to Guertler, who slid the puck past Marchand.
Andrews benefitted from a strange play moments later. After Beau McCue's shot ricocheted off the glass and fell off the net, an alert Andrews chipped it in for the 4-1 final.
The AUS playoff schedule will be released in the coming days.
Courtesy Thomas Becker, UPEI Sports Information