(FREDERICTON, NB) The StFX X-Men are in a familiar position. The X-Men are up 1-0 in the Subway Atlantic University Sport men's hockey final, and headed home for game two, after a 2-1 victory over the UNB Varsity Reds on Monday night.
StFX can win their second consecutive AUS banner with a win, at home, on Wednesday. They were in the same position a year ago and went on to win game two and the conference championship, but fell to the Varsity Reds in the national championship.
Michael Clarke (London, ON) opened the scoring at the 6:34 mark of the first period. With the X-Men working a 5-on-3 power-play, Clarke wired a shot from the top of the slot that beat Varsity Reds netminder Etienne Marcoux (Terrebonne, QC).
That lead would last all of six minutes.
On a power-play of their own, the Varsity Reds tied the score 1-1 when Cameron Brace (Markham, ON) converted a Chris Caissy (Campbellton, NB) pass.
Eric Locke (Toronto, ON) tipped a shot past Marcoux at 14:48 of the first, giving X a 2-1 lead the visitors would take to the intermission.
"Your special teams can win or lose you games, and tonight, obviously, that 5-on-3 goal was the difference," said X-Men head coach Brad Peddle.
There was no scoring in the second period, where UNB outshot the X-Men 13-7.
The Varsity Reds had several quality scoring chances, but Chase Marchand (Halifax, NS) stood his ground in the X net.
UNB outshot the X-Men 17-2 in the final period, but Marchand turned away all attempts.
"Chase was outstanding," said Peddle. "In the playoffs, your goalie has to be your best player most nights and I thought he was our best player tonight."
Marchand, with 49 saves, was named the Subway Player of the Game. "I think we played well in front of me, so I felt good because of that," said Marchand.
The loss was the first for UNB on home ice this season.
"We just have to find a way to get one more goal than the other team," said Varsity Reds forward Philippe Maillet (Terrebonne, QC). "The good news is, we've got another chance. We're back at it on Wednesday, but it stings pretty good right now."
UNB head coach Gardiner MacDougall liked his team's intensity, but feels they have to dig deeper if they want to force a third and deciding game in the series.
"We had a lot of good things, but I think we just missed a little bit," said MacDougall. "At this time of year that little bit can be such a difference-maker."
The second game of this best of three series will be played Wednesday night, at 7:00pm, in Antigonish. If necessary, game three will be Friday night, at 7:00pm, back at the Aitken Centre.
Recap courtesy Andy Campbell/UNB Athletics