Antigonish, NS – The StFX X-Men staved off elimination with a gritty 3-1 victory over the Saint Mary's Huskies in Game 3 of the Subway AUS semifinals Monday evening at the Charles V. Keating Centre in front of over 1500 fans.
The Huskies still hold a 2-1 advantage in the best-of-five series as the X-Men force Game 4 which will be played Wednesday evening at the Keating Centre.
StFX were led by Subway player of the game and reigning U SPORTS goaltender of the year Chase Marchand (Halifax, NS) who posted 36 saves between the pipes.
The X-Men played the game with a depleted line-up as several key players were out due to injuries including forwards Holden Cook, Matt Needham and Bryson Cianfrone, while veteran captain Mark Tremaine and defenseman Matt Thompson were serving game misconduct suspensions from penalties incurred during Saturday night's game.
Both teams played a cautious opening 10 minutes to the game, with the X-Men generating more shots on goal than the Huskies. StFX fought off a SMU powerplay midway through the period and Marchand was sharp early on.
The Huskies converted on their first good scoring chance of the period just over 13 minutes in. Aaron Berisha (Mississauga, ON) from behind the StFX net initiated a tic-tac-toe play that saw him feed Stephen Johnson (Moncton, NB) and then Logan DeNoble (Peterborough, ON) who beat a sprawling Marchand who had no chance on the play.
The 1-0 lead held up after 20 minutes as shots were even at 10 apiece.
StFX came out on a mission in the second period and scored two goals in the opening six minutes of play.
After Eric Brassard (St. Hubert, QC) made the initial save off an Adam Holwell (St. John's, NF) shot, he followed up on his own rebound and fed the puck to Regan Spears (Port Hood, NS) in front of the SMU net who put it away.
Brassard made a diving save on a Nathan Pancel (Ottawa, ON) shot from the slot two minutes later, but it was X-Men defenseman Santino Centorame (Mississauga, ON) who gave the X-Men their first lead in the game at 5:37 when he blasted one from the point that beat Brassard high over the shoulder.
Both Brassard and Marchand continued to make key saves in their respective nets to keep their squads in the mix.
Marchand came up big late in the period with consecutive saves off Jake Coughler (St. Catharines, ON) and Hunter Garlent (Thorold, ON) from in tight.
The X-Men notched a power play goal with only 10 seconds left in the second period as Adam Stevens (Bedford, NS) redirected a Cole MacDonald (Wetaskiwin, AB) pass to give the home team a 3-1 lead heading into the third period.
The final period saw both teams held off the scoresheet, despite late pressure by the Huskies in the final three minutes of the game. Marchand held strong in the StFX net, finishing with 36 saves on the night to lead the X-Men to victory.
Brassard had 23 saves for the Huskies, while defenseman Nicholas Welsh (Halifax, NS) received Subway player of the game honours for his squad.
Game 4 will be played Wednesday evening at 7:00 pm at the StFX Keating Centre. Game 5, if necessary, will be back in Halifax on Friday night.
Courtesy Krista McKenna, StFX Sports Information