Antigonish, NS - The StFX X-Men outlasted the Saint Mary's Huskies by a 4-3 score-line in a Wednesday night contest at the Charles V. Keating Centre. The game was one of two halves in which the X-Men controlled the play for the opening half-hour before the Huskies found their form and nearly tied the game after 60 minutes of play.
StFX scored four first period goals, two of which came on the power-play. The X-Men controlled the play early in the game with an equal measure of hard forechecking and crisp passing in the Huskies zone.
StFX's first goal came with the man advantage on a great point shot by Santino Centorame (Mississauga, ON) after a fine display of precision passing to keep the accomplished Huskies penalty killers on their heels. The assists on the goal went to Bryson Cianfrone (Stoney Creek, ON) and Mark Tremaine (Dartmouth, NS).
The Huskies responded just over a minute later when the veteran Stephen Johnson (Moncton, NB) found himself alone in front of the X-Men net and coolly put the Huskies on the scoreboard. Halifax natives Nick Welsh and Austyn Hardie created the goal.
The X-Men were soon back on the power-play and another fine passing display that found Jeremiah Addison (Etobicoke, ON) in the perfect spot to wire a wrist shot past a screened Eric Brassard (St. Hubert, QC). Adam Laishram (Ashburn, ON), playing the point on the power-play, and Daniel Robertson (Windsor, ON) set up the marker.
The next goal came from a Bailey Webster wrist shot from the point which found the top corner of the net. William Bower (Saint John, NB) won the puck along the boards and made a short pass to William Thompson (Fredericton, AB) who located the wide-open Webster.
The fourth X goal came from strong work along the boards by Lane Cormier (Hopewell, NS) who won control of the puck and Anthony DiFruscia (Thorold, ON) whose centring pass found the soft hands of the oncoming Cole MacDonald (Westaskiwin, AB) for the tip in.
The period ended on a sour note when Saint Mary's defenceman Sam Dunn (Hamilton Township, ON) hit Lane Cormier with a check to the head and was assessed a five-minute major and a game misconduct.
The second period started with the X-Men on the power-play that carried over from the first period. They moved the puck around well and the point shots were deftly redirected by Tremaine and Smith but none found themselves past Broussard.
The Huskies, building on the confidence given to them by the strong goaltending of Brassard, began to put X under increasing pressure. Not long after the X-Men power play ended the Huskies went to the man advantage. After X cleared the puck, Nick Welsh calmly took the puck up the ice and after crossing the blue line made a short pass to Mitchell Balmas (Sydney, NS) who found an oncoming Johnson. Johnson's low wrist shot found its way through the pads of Joseph Raaymakers (Chatham, ON) to make the score 4-2 going into the third period.
The momentum the Huskies built in the second period not only carried over into the third period but gathered into a storm, the epicentre of which was the net of Joseph Raaymakers.
From the puck drop the play was almost exclusively in the X-Men zone and it was only a question of when and not if SMU would score.
Sam King's (Hampton, NB) strong forecheck and second efforts created numerous chances for his linemates Johnson and Noah Zilbert (Fredericton, NB), but Raaymakers stood tall time and time again.
Inevitably the pressure in the X zone led to a SMU power-play in which Stephen Johnson scored on the rebound off a Nick Welsh shot from the point, pulling the Huskies to within a goal at 4-3 with seven minutes left to play in the game.
The Huskies continued to put pucks on net and Raaymakers made a number of athletic saves, including a miraculous pad save as he was coming across the net to safeguard X's lead.
SMU went back to the power-play with under five minutes remaining and Anthony Repaci (Toronto, ON) will wonder long into the night how he did not score; however, this should not take away from what was an excellent display of hockey prowess by the Huskies captain.
The Huskies showed great resiliency until the final whistle as they battled to earn control of the puck along the boards and made great passes when possession was won to create quality scoring chances, but there at the end to foil their efforts was Joseph Raaymakers, whose immense third period performance gave him the game's third star honours, as he finished the night with 33 saves.
The Huskies outshot the X-Men 36-30 on the night.
Stephen Johnson collected the game's second star. The performance of X-Men forward Lane Cormier, whose efficient forecheck, precise passing in tight spaces, and astute penalty killing earned him first star honours.
Next on the AUS schedule, the Huskies will face the Tigers on home ice Friday evening. The X-Men host Acadia on Friday night in Antigonish. Puck drop for both games is 7:00 pm.
Recap courtesy Bart Sears, StFX Sports Information