Antigonish, NS - The StFX X-Men won their fifth straight game 2-1 over their long-time rival Saint Mary's Huskies in a tightly contested game Tuesday night at the Charles V. Keating Centre.
The first period was a cagey affair, with SMU having the slightly better of the play, including a number of good chances coming in transition. The Huskies defense were not shy to join the rush with Jacob Friend (Bowmanville, ON) and Nicholas Welsh (Halifax, NS) particularly effective. The X-Men frustrated the skilled Saint Mary's team and drew three power-plays in the first period. StFX's first power play was their most effective, but they could not capitalize on their nice passing plays.
Shots on net after the first period of play were 10-7 in favor of the Huskies, but neither goalie was troubled by any.
The second period saw the X-Men finish off their power play that had carried over from the end of the first period, but no dangerous chances resulted. The first SMU power play of the period saw a series of great passes led to a wide-open shot for Jake Coughler (St. Catherines, ON) but Chase Marchand (Halifax, NS) just got enough of the puck to steer it wide of the net. Not long after, it was Eric Brassard's (St. Hubert, QC) turn to come up with a huge stick save for the Huskies to keep the game level.
The opening goal of the game came courtesy of Sam Studnicka (Windsor, ON). The scoring play began with a simple tip into the zone by Matt Needham (Penticton, BC). Bedford, N.S. natives, freshman Matt Graham and veteran Adam Stevens used an effective forecheck to gain possession and a Stevens pass to the oncoming Studnicka found the back of the net.
The tying goal came from the visitors just after another successful Huskies' penalty kill. Two of the Huskies standout performers on the evening, Aaron Berisha (Mississauga, ON) and Nicholas Welsh drew the assists on Logan Denoble's (Peterborough, ON) game tying goal. Welsh fired a great pass up to Berisha who was waiting at the X blue line. Berisha, made a perfect heads-up pass to Denoble on the opposite wing, and Denoble finished the play.
Shots on goal in the second period were 9-4 in favor of the Huskies, who had three power-play opportunities.
The third period saw both teams go in search of the go-ahead marker. At times emotions got the better of players, with both teams having chances with the man advantage. Despite all the firepower up front for both teams, it was a defenseman that would score the winning goal.
Nathan Pancel (Ottawa, ON), with the puck on his stick along the boards near the blue line, looked up to see defenseman Daniel Robertson (Ashburn, ON) alone in front of the net. Robertson calmly waited for Brassard to make the first move, and then wristed his shot high into the net.
The Huskies, down a goal, piled on the pressure, but the X-Men remained calm and did not allow many dangerous scoring chances as they played out the remaining minutes.
The three stars of the game were third star Aaron Berisha from SMU, and from the X-Men, second star Matt Graham and first star and Subway player of the game goaltender Chase Marchand who had 31 saves on the night.
Next up on the AUS schedule sees the Huskies travel to Moncton next Wednesday, November 7th. The X-Men will host Acadia this Friday, November 2nd at 7:00 pm.
Courtesy Bart Sears, StFX Sports Information