Wolfville, N.S – The AUS consolation series got off to an exciting start, as the USports No. 6 Acadia Axemen doubled up on the No. 7 Saint Mary's Huskies for a final score of 6-3 on Monday night.
Axemen forward, and Subway First Star of the Night, Stephen Harper had a solid performance in his first home game since sustaining an injury in the first round of the playoffs, registering three assists and the game-winner.
Despite being even in shots, the Axemen dominated the first period, as they held a 3-1 lead heading into the second period.
The first goal of the game came when Axemen forward Stephen Harper curled in the on the right side of the offensive zone, protecting the puck.
As Harper went behind the Huskies net, he threw a backhand pass out to an open Remy Giftopoulos, who lifted the puck over the Saint Mary's Eric Brassard for the 1-0 lead.
Acadia added to their lead roughly 30 seconds later, with a power-play marker from forward Sam Fioretti, who redirected a wrist shot from the point by defenseman Matthew Pufahl.
For their third goal, the Axemen got offence from first year forward Ryan Foss, who lobbed a wrist shot from against the left boards past the screened goalie into the far-right corner of the net.
Saint Mary's responded eight seconds later, off the faceoff with a 2-on-1 rush, finished by forward Connor McGlynn, who lifted the puck over the blocker of the Robert Steeves to make it 3-1 heading into the second.
Although the Huskies attempted a comeback throughout in the second, the Axemen pulled away again, adding two goals of their own to take a 5-3 lead into the third.
On the tail-end of a Huskies power-play, Axemen goalie and third star of the night Robert Steeves made an outstanding save in the second frame on the penalty kill, slid across and stacked the pads
Saint Mary's began to mount a comeback with a goal from defenseman Alexander Peters, who fooled the Axemen goalie with a high wrist shot from the right corner of the offensive zone to make it 3-2.
Acadia answered back with a goal from Stephen Harper, who picked up the rebound after Giftopoulos carried the puck behind the net and came out front to throw a backhand at the net to make it 4-2.
The Axemen added another from Kyle Farrell who was left wide open in front of the Saint Mary's net, where he waited out the goalie and roofed the puck over the glove of the goalie to make it 5-2.
Saint Mary's responded once again with a goal from forward Jake Coughler, who got away a quick shot in front of the Axemen net to make it 5-3
The Axemen opened the scoring in the third period on a beautifully executed 2-on-1 between Stephen Harper and Ryan Foss.
Despite things getting chippy near the end of the game, the Axemen held onto their lead, as Steeves remained solid in the Axemen net to prevent a Saint Mary's comeback.
Steeves turned aside 32 of 35 shots, while his Saint Mary's counterpart Eric Brassard stopped 14 of 19 shots on the night before being pulled for Cole Cheveldave, who turned aside 14 of the 15 shots he faced.
Saint Mary's forward Calder Brooks had two assists on the night and received second star of the night honours.
The series now turns to Halifax on Wed. March 7 for Game 2 and if necessary, the final game will be played in Wolfville on Fri. March 9. Puck drop for both games will be 7:00pm.
The winner of the series will secure a spot the third spot in the 2018 U SPORTS University Cup being hosted by UNB March 15-18.
Contributed by Joshua Foote, Acadia Athletics Communications Office