X-Men edge Axemen 5-4

Photo courtesy Lauren Tidd
Photo courtesy Lauren Tidd

Antigonish, NS - The U SPORTS No. 4 ranked StFX X-Men edged the No. 6 ranked Acadia Axemen by a 5-4 score Wednesday evening at the Charles V. Keating Centre.

Matt Needham (Penticton, BC) scored the game winning goal with only 1:12 left in the third period as the home team staved off an Acadia comeback and held on for the win.

The X-Men opened the game by scoring three goals in quick succession. Thirty-six seconds into the period Sam Studnicka (Windsor, ON), assisted by Adam Stevens (Bedford, NS), found the back of the net after intercepting an Axemen pass.

Just 29 seconds later Holden Cook (Oshawa, ON) went top shelf on Axemen goaltender Dawson Carty (Burlington, ON). Craig Duininck (St. Cloud, MN) and Needham had the helpers on the second goal.

Mark Tremaine (Dartmouth, NS) was the third X-Men to find the back of the net in the first frame, scoring a wrap-around goal at 3:29. Stevens and Studnicka assisted as the X-Men jumped out to an early 3-0 advantage.

The three quick goals from the blue and white ended the night for Axemen freshman goaltender Carty as he was pulled in favour of veteran Robert Steeves (St. Joseph-de-Kent, NB). Carty had only faced four StFX shots.

The Axemen did get the board by the end of the first period when defenseman Alexander Lepkowski (Buffalo, NY), assisted by Stephen Harper (Burlington, ON), beat Chase Marchand (Halifax, NS) up high.

The opening 20 minutes ended with the 3-1 advantage for the X-Men.

With penalties abound in the second period, a 4-on-3 power play at 10:33 led to StFX's fourth goal of the game by defenseman Jagger Dirk (Penticton, BC). Cook and Kristoff Kontos (Penetanguishene, ON) picked up the helpers on the play as the X-Men re-established their three-goal lead.

The Axemen responded with their own power play goal late in the period at 18:49 scored by Chance Braid (Wainwright, AB) and assisted by Remy Giftopoulos (Ancaster, ON) and Michael Zipp (Edmonton, AB).

The Axemen quickly erased their two-goal deficit as veteran forward Boston Leier (Saskatoon, SK) scored an unassisted goal at 4:59 of the third period following a StFX turnover in their own end. Leier, along with Owen MacDonald (Elora, ON), assisted Rodney Southam (Saskatoon, SK) who netted a hard-fought power play goal at 10:39, tying the game at 4-4.

The X-Men showed great character in coming back for the win as Subway Player of the Game Needham scored the game winner off a one-timer from Cook and Santino Centorame (Mississauga, ON).

Shots favoured Acadia by a slim margin, 34-32.

Marchand picked up his third win of the season in as many games for the X-Men with 30 saves in the game, including several key saves in the third period. Steeves turned aside 26 in the Axemen net.

X-Men forward Sam Studnicka was named the game's second star, and Axemen forward Leier was third star.

Next up on the AUS schedule sees the X-Men on the road to Halifax to face Saint Mary's on Friday night. The Axemen will host the Dalhousie Tigers, also on Friday. Both games start at 7pm.

Courtesy Kiana Pace, StFX Athletics Communications