Lethbridge, AB – The sixth seeded StFX X-Men defeated the third seeded Queens Gael 5-3 in U SPORTS quarterfinal action Saturday night at the Enmax Centre. The X-Men overcame a 3-0 first period deficit to score five unanswered goals in the victory.
Fourth year forward Holden Cook scored a pair of goals and sophomore forward Adam Laishram notched the game winner with six minutes left in the third period to give the X-Men the come-from-behind win.
"It speaks to our veteran group, a lot of these guys have been to this tournament before," commented X-Men head coach Brad Peddle following the game. "We realized after the first period that we didn't play our best period and we relied on the group to reset quickly."
"In this tournament you don't have time to dwell much on what's just happened, you have to move on quickly. I am really proud of our team's response in the second period and from then on we just got going and you could start to feel it come together as the game went on."
Both teams got off to a cautious start to the game, testing out the ice and their respective opponent. The X-Men were sent to the penalty kill early on and the Gaels capitalized with a power play marker from Luke Edwards at 6:03 to take an early 1-0 lead. His shot from inside the point through traffic beat Marchand low.
The X-Men netminder was then sharp as he stopped Slater Doggett on a partial break shortly after. The Gaels continued to ramp it up and Edwards notched his second goal of the night at 10:26 after he squeezed around the X defense and beat Marchand with a shot up high.
The X-Men had a power play opportunity with five minutes left in the period but were unable to capitalize. The Gaels found themselves on a 3-on-1 as the penalty expired, combined with a bad shift change by the X-Men, and Nevin Guy scored to give them a 3-0 lead.
The X-Men replied with a power play marker of their own at 18:04 as Mark Tremaine and Adam Stevens connected with Cook. Stevens shot deflected off Gaels goaltender Justin Fazio and bounced off the back boards directly onto Cook's stick and he buried it into the back of the net.
Shots were even at 12 apiece in the opening period.
The X-Men came out stronger in the second period and fired more shots on the Gaels net. They closed the gap to 3-2 with a Stevens power play goal at 13:37. After good puck movement in the offensive zone, Bryson Cianfrone found Cook down low who fired a quick pass across the slot to Stevens and he made no mistake.
Marchand came up with a big pad save with just over four minutes left in the period to keep his squad within a goal.
Shots were lopsided in favour of the X-Men at 13-3 in the middle period.
The X-Men came out firing in the third period, on a mission to score the equalizing goal. Nathan Pancel nearly tipped in a Bailey Webster point shot four minutes in as the StFX offense was controlling possession early on.
Their pressure paid off when Cook scored his second goal of the game at 9:19 just after an X-Men power play had expired, banging in a rebound off after a Tremaine shot bounced around the Gaels crease.
Marchand continued his strong play at the other end for the X-Men, coming up with key saves to keep them in the game.
Likewise Fazio came up big for the Gaels, stopping Cook from point blank range with seven minutes to play.
Laishram's goal came with 6:04 left in the game as Regan Spears found him wide open in the slot and he roofed the puck over the shoulder of Fazio.
Queens did not let up in the final minutes, pressuring for the tying goal. Fazio was pulled from the net in favour of the extra attacker with 1:20 to play but the X-Men were able to hang on to the win. Sam Studnicka sealed the deal with an empty net goal.
Cook picked up player of the game honours for the X-Men and commented on the X-Men turnaround in the second period, noting "Instead of playing the perimeter we started taking more pucks to net and getting to the goalie more. We got more pucks behind their D and we are a pretty fast team so after awhile we started to wear them down and it worked for us."
With the win the X-Men advance to the national semifinal game against a familiar conference foe – the UNB Reds. Puck drop is 6:00 pm MST and will be televised live on Sportsnet 360.
Courtesy Krista McKenna, StFX Sports Information