Antigonish, NS - The StFX X-Men skated to a 4-0 shutout victory over the visiting Aigles Bleus to avenge last Saturday's evening loss to the same Moncton squad.
Moncton started the more aggressive team as they outskated and outchanced the X-Men. Nathael Roy was dynamic for Moncton in pursuit of the game's opening goal as he made a number of great rushes and fine passes. Their good play led to a power-play in the sixth minute, but they were unable to get set up in the X zone and generate any quality scoring chances.
The momentum of the game turned just after half-way through the opening period on an STFX breakout from their own goal line. Veteran defenceman Adam Holwell turned with puck to give himself the extra time and space necessary to make a tight pass to rookie centreman Josh Nelson who calmly took the puck at the face-off dot. Nelson then made a short pass to the league's leading scorer, Liam Hawel, who assuredly rushed with the puck into the Moncton zone.
With Moncton now on their heels, the X-Men went to the power-play and the quick hands of Nelson once again came to the fore. Nelson won the face-off and Connor Roberts found Antigonish native Jacob Hudson alone in the slot. Hudson made no mistake as he wired a wrist shot in the top corner to give X a 1-0 lead.
STFX's second goal of the period started with an excellent break out from their own end from which they established possession in the Moncton zone. Zack Trott made a nice pass back along the boards to defenceman Holwell who skated in from the blue line and found Hawel at the side of the net. Hawel wasted little time as he put his shot past Moncton netminder Etienne Monpetit, who had no chance on the goal.
The second period began much as the first as les Aigles-Bleus took the play to the X-Men. Remy Anglehart had chances early in the period, but Joseph Raaymakers was equal to the task on all shots faced.
As the period neared the halfway mark, the X-Men iced the puck and out came the line of Anglehart, Michael Cyr, and Samuel Guilbault. With momentum on their side, this felt like the chance Moncton had to take to score their first goal. Alas, for Moncton fans, STFX's Declan Smith won the draw and the X-Men cleared the zone.
At the 12:13 mark of the second period Matthew Struthers scored StFX's third goal of the game. Once again, the goal started from the X zone. William Thompson made a pass from behind the goal line to Hudson on the half wall. Hudson made a nice one touch pass to Matthew Struthers in full stride. Struthers smoothly skated down the ice and shot in tight on Monpetit and then deposited his own rebound.
As the second period drew to a close, X found themselves back on the power-play. Matthew Philip won the draw and the puck made its way to Holwell. Holwell passed to Hawel who located Trott unmarked as he made his way to the side of the net. Trott then picked up the perfectly timed pass and put it into the open net to give the X-Men an unassailable four-goal cushion.
The third period was a scoreless affair as both teams alternated periods of control with neither team looking like they might threaten the mesh.
Raaymakers was solid in net and, it must be said, he showed great ability to play the puck and made a number of deft passes to his defencemen to start the X-Men breakouts, which was a key part of their success on the evening.
For Moncton, Francis Thibault was excellent. He was sound defensively and his ability in the opposition's zone will always mean Moncton are just a moment away from a chance to score.
The games three-star selection was a STFX sweep with Nelson as third star, Hawel as second, and X-Men forward Jacob Hudson as first star and Subway player of the game.
Moncton (1-5-1) will be back in action Saturday evening to face Dalhousie in Halifax at 7pm.
StFX (5-2-1) will face-off against UNB at home Saturday evening at 7pm.
Courtesy Bart Sears, STFX Sports Information