X-Men earn 6-2 win over Moncton to open AUS quarter-finals

Photo courtesy Lauren Tidd
Photo courtesy Lauren Tidd

Antigonish, NS – The StFX X-Men, off the strength of a three-goal third period, earned a 6-2 victory over the Moncton Aigles Bleus Wednesday evening at the Charles V. Keating Centre in Game 1 Subway AUS quarter-final action.

X-Men freshman forward Bryson Cianfrone (Stoney Creek, ON) opened the scoring in the game four minutes into the first period as he caught a long pass across the neutral zone from Nathan Pancel Ottawa, ON) as he was streaking up the right wing. He unleashed a quick shot that beat Moncton goaltender Brandon Thibeau (Riverview, NB). Aaron Hoyles (Gander, NL) also picked up an assist on the play.

Chase Marchand (Halifax, NS) stood tall in the StFX net early on in the period making some key saves for his X-Men.

The Aigles Bleus tied the game at 10:48 with three seconds left on a power play. After Marchand made the save on a Jean-François Plante (Sherbrooke, QC) shot, the rebound came right to the stick of Allain Saulnier (Cap-Pelé, NB) who quickly deposited it into the open side of the net.

The X-Men had their own power play chance shortly afterwards but came up short and the 1-1 score held after 20 minutes. Moncton held a slight shot advantage 14-13, in the opening period.

StFX took a two-goal lead over the Aigles Bleus thanks to a pair of second period goals scored just 41 seconds apart.

Just over six minutes in while on a 5-on-3 power play, Eric Locke (Toronto, ON) scored off a nice passing play. Cianfrone fed the puck down low to Kristof Kontos (Penetanguishene, ON) who quickly got it to an open Locke in front and he one-timed it past Thibeau.

At 6:58, Pancel picked up his second helper of the evening as he fed the puck to Cole MacDonald (Wetaskawin, AB) who scored off a 2-on-1 rush into the Moncton zone. Brent Turnbull (Stellarton, NS) also assisted.

The X-Men continued to pressure in the second period, generating several scoring chances.

The Aigles Bleus had a couple key chances with Marchand coming up with glove saves off Carl Marois (Montmagny, QC) and Robbie Graham (Richibuctou, NB).

Thibeau had a key save of his own off X-Men forward Holden Cook (Oshawa, ON) late in the period.

The X-Men took the 3-1 lead into the locker room at second intermission despite shots favoring Moncton 10-9.

Pancel gave StFX a 4-1 edge when he scored off a Cianfrone pass at 2:50 of the third period. Cianfrone brought the puck up ice, worked it along the boards then got it free out front to Pancel.

Samuel Roussy (Paspébiac, QC) had a great chance for Moncton while on the power play but was stopped on a big blocker save by Marchand.

Thibeau then turned aside Locke on consecutive shots in tight.

Steve Lebel (Lemoyne, QC) scored for Moncton while on the power play at 15:24 as he tipped in a point shot by Plante.

The Aigles Bleus pulled Thibeau in favor of the extra attacker with just over three minutes left in the game. Locke capitalized quickly on a turnover and potted an empty netter at 17:05. Jagger Dirk (Penticton, BC) and Cook assisted.

With 1:10 left in the game, the Aigles Bleus had a turnover in their own zone along the boards and Locke picked up the puck, quickly passing out front to Kontos who scored the sixth StFX goal of the night.

Shots ended in the Aigles Bleus favor at 35-30 as Marchand, the X-Men's Subway player of the game put forth a 33-save performance for the win.

Thibeau, with 24 saves, took the loss for Moncton.

Aigles Bleus forward Marois received Subway player of the game honors for his team.

With the win the X-Men take 1-0 series lead in the best-of-3 Subway AUS quarter-final series. Game 2 is scheduled for Friday, Februay 17th in Moncton with a 7:00 pm puck drop.

Game 3, if necessary, will be back at the StFX Keating Centre on Sunday evening, February 19th, also at 7:00 pm.