(Halifax, N.S.) The Saint Mary's Huskies held on in the third to beat the Dalhousie Tigers 3-1 in the battle of Halifax at the Halifax Forum Friday night.
It was a hard fought, physical, back and forth game throughout.
With the win, The Huskies (11-4-1) sit with 23-points and stretch their lead over Acadia for third in the AUS standings to four-points. They kept pace with UNB and StFX at the top of the table and sit five-points back of first.
The Tigers (2-12-1) stay in seventh, one point back of U de Moncton for the final playoff spot, just past the halfway point of the season.
Cole Cheveldave (Calgary, Alta.) made 21 saves to get the W. He was stellar in the third holding onto a one-goal lead and pushed his record to 5-1.
Tanner Williams (Iroquois, Ont.) picked up the goal for Dal.
Corbin Boes (Saskatoon, Sask.) made 34 saves in a losing cause but was a significant presence all game, particularly in the second. His record stands at 2-12.
It was SMU in control off the opening puck drop, until Dal killed an early penalty and responded with a lot of zone pressure over the next few minutes.
The game opened up in back half of the first. Both teams were able to work with speed through the neutral zone and generate some chances off the rush. Dal had a slight edge in zone-time but SMU won the shot battle 11-4.
Berisha opened the scoring with a power-play marker 6:58 into the second. Coughler worked it back to Calder Brooks (Emerald Park, Sask.) on the point. He walked the line and put a shot on goal. Boes made a right-pad save and Berisha knocked home the rebound on his backhand from the doorstep.
The Huskies controlled the game-flow for the rest of the period and ended up outshooting the Tigers 18-1. Dal attempted closer to 10 shots but either had them blocked or sent them wide.
Boes was rock solid to keep it a 1-0 game through 40. Highlighted by a save on Hunter Garlent (Thorold, Ont.) in the middle of the period. Garlent picked up the puck on scramble play off a rebound. He had his first try blocked, scooped it back up and stepped left to set up an open net backhand look and Boes – who seemed down and out of the play - was lightning quick left-to-right to make the save.
Williams put the Tigers on the board just under two-minutes into the third. Duncan MacIntyre (Sydney, N.S.) played the puck to Kelly Bent (Halifax, N.S.) on the left wall in the Tigers'-zone. Bent spotted Williams in the defensive-slot and Williams carried up ice through the neutral-zone. He faked a dump-in crossing the Huskies blue-line to create some space and snapped a shot high-blocker from the top of the right-circle.
Berisha scored the winner under a minute later. Brooks pinched in from the left-point and got the puck to Garlent behind the net. Garlent, under pressure, made a sly backhand feed to Berisha who snapped it high-glove from the left-slot hash-marks.
The physical play went to another level in the middle part of the third with the Tigers pushing hard for an equalizer.
Dal through a ton of rubber at Cheveldave in the third but he was up to the task down the stretch.
Coughler scored into an empty-net with just over a minute left to ice the game for SMU. Bradley Latour (Barrie, Ont.) cleared the puck up-ice from just inside the SMU blue-line and Coughler won a footrace to the puck behind the Dal D and tapped it home from the top of the crease.
Shots were 17-7 Tigers in the third and 36-22 overall for the Huskies.
Up next, the Tigers stay at the Halifax Forum for a home game against the Acadia Axemen on Saturday, November 25. The Huskies will host the UNB Varsity Reds on Friday, December 1 at the Halifax Forum.
Photo Nick Pearce