Hockey X-Men drop exhibition game to Huskies

Courtesy Nic Latulippe
Courtesy Nic Latulippe

Antigonish, N.S. - On the strength of three unanswered goals in the opening 10 minutes, the Saint Mary's Huskies defeated the StFX X-Men, defending AUS champions and CIS silver medalists, 7-3, in pre-season hockey action Saturday afternoon at the Antigonish Arena.

On the power play, at 3:02 of the first period, Stephen Gillard (St. John's, NL) tallied, on assists from Bradley Latour (Barrie, ON) and Ben Duffy (Lower Sackville, NS), to give the visitors a 1-0 edge.

The Huskies doubled their advantage, at 8:04, when Noah Zilbert (Fredericton, NB) scored from Thomas Stavert (Kensington, PE).

Less than two minutes later, at 9:27, Bronson Beaton (Springhill, ON) gave Saint Mary's a 3-0 lead, with Alex Cord (Toronto, ON) and Conor McGlynn (Oakville, ON) notching the assists.

At 13:57, the X-Men sliced the Huskies' lead to 3-1, on a goal from Adam Stevens (Bedford, NS). Kristoff Kontos (Penetanguishene, ON) and Jagger Dirk (Penticton, BC) collected the helpers.

The Huskies regained their three-goal lead when Calder Brooks (Emerald Park, SK) banged a rebound behind Chase Marchand (Halifax, NS) to make it 4-1. Gillard and Steven Shipley (Ilderton, ON) assisted, at 17:05.

With the Huskies on the man-advantage to start the second period, the X-Men garnered the best scoring chance, but St. Mary's goaltender Cole Cheveldave (Calgary, AB) made a blocker save on a hard blast from Dirk.

At 6:43, on another power play, the Huskies went up 5-1, on the second of the game from Beaton, with Hunter Garlent (Thorold, ON) earning the lone assist.

With the home side trying to rally, Nathan Pancel (Ottawa, ON) unleashed a couple shots, off the rush, but Cheveldave stood tall.

On a four-minute power play, the X-Men had several chances, including a Holden Cook (Oshawa, ON) one-timer and a Sam Studnicka (Windsor, ON) bullet from the top of the face-off circle, but Cheveldave made both stops.

At 12:56, Aaron Hoyles (Gander, NL) trimmed the X-Men deficit to 5-2, on assists from Dirk and defending AUS MVP Eric Locke (Toronto, ON).

StFX continued to exert pressure, with Studnicka breaking in alone, but his shot rang off the crossbar.

While shorthanded, Duffy intercepted a cross-ice pass in his own zone, before skating in alone on Marchand, who made a great save.

The X-Men answered, with Locke finding Cook for a one-timer, but Cheveldave steered the puck aside with his right pad.

Off a two-on-one, Stavert took a cross-crease feed, but Marchand slid from post-to-post to make the stop.

On another Saint Mary's attack, Marchand made a sprawling save on Zilbert.

With less than three seconds remaining in the middle stanza, Mark Tremaine (Dartmouth, NS),  parked on the lip of the crease, deflected a Hoyles' point shot behind Cheveldave. Stevens collected the other assist.

The Huskies, defending CIS bronze medallists, led 5-3 heading into the third period.

In a fast-paced start to the final 20 minutes, the X-Men came up empty on a power play chance.

Five minutes in, Brent Turnbull (Stellarton, NS) uncoiled a shot from the right wing, but Cheveldave smothered the puck.

When the Huskies replied, Marchand made a couple key saves to keep the X-Men within a pair of goals.

From his off wing, Michael Clarke (London, ON) darted to the centre of the slot, but he could not solve Cheveldave.

With the X-Men pressing, the Huskies capitalized on a turnover, breaking in two-on-one against Marchand. Stavert passed to Duffy, who found the back of the net to restore Saint Mary's three-goal edge, at 6-3.

With seven minutes left in regulation, Cheveldave smothered a point shot that came through a crowd, off the stick of X-Men defenseman Cody Hendsbee (Richmond, ON).

A couple minutes later, Clarke streaked through the neutral zone and over the blue line, before finding Pancel for a shot from along the boards, which Cheveldave corralled.

With StFX running out of time for a comeback, Saint Mary's took advantage of another odd-man rush, at 16:48, with Beaton collecting his hat-trick goal to make it 7-3. Brooks and Shipley scored the assists.

The Huskies spent most of the final minutes on the power play, including a 5-on-3 advantage for almost 90 seconds, but the X-Men defense held its ground.

The first star and Subway player of the game was Beaton, with Garlent and Stevens receiving second and third star nods, respectively.

The Huskies will be back on the ice Wednesday, Sept. 28, when they face-off against the Université de Moncton Aigles Bleus, in Truro, at 7 p.m.

The X-Men will continue the pre-season with their traditional weekend swing through the northeastern United States, with games versus the University of Connecticut Huskies (Saturday, Oct. 1) and University of Maine Black Bears (Sunday, Oct. 2).

Puck drop for both match-ups is 4 p.m. ADT.