X-Men pick up key win over Aigles Bleus

Photo credit Bryan Kennedy
Photo credit Bryan Kennedy

Antigonish, NS – The STFX X-Men defeated the Moncton Aigles Bleus 3-1 in AUS action Wednesday afternoon at the Charles V. Keating Centre. The game was rescheduled from Saturday evening due to the recent winter storm.

STFX picked up a key two points in the AUS standings, improving to 14-13-1-0 on the season as they move one point ahead of UPEI into a tie for third place with Saint Mary's.

Moncton (15-11-3-0) has already secured second place and clinched first round playoff bye in the AUS standings.

The X-Men opening the scoring in the game midway through the first period as Declan Smith (Antigonish, NS) took a long stretch pass through mid-ice just inside the blue line from Matthew Struthers (Milton, ON) and went in alone to beat Aigles Bleus goaltender Felix-Anthony Ether (Deux-Montagnes, QC) five-hole.

Moncton pressed for the equalizer throughout the remainder of the period as captain Michael Cyr (Sainte-Anne, NB) had a couple whacks at the puck in front of the X net but Joesph Raaymakers (Chatham, ON) turned him aside. Jeremie Jacob (Dieppe, NB) hit the post with four minutes left in the period as the Aigles Bleus outshot the X-Men 15-8.

Struthers and Liam Hawel (Arnprior, ON) had scoring chances early in the second period for the X-Men.

Cyr and Jacob replied with an excellent chance on a two-on-one six minutes into the period, but Raaymakers made big sliding pad save to keep the puck out of the X net.

Charlie Edouard Drouin (St-Georges-de-Beauce, QC) almost tied it for the Aigels Bleus when he intercepted a puck that Raaymakers was playing, but the puck went just wide of the open STFX crease.

Smith and Struthers connected again to give the X-Men a 2-0 lead, as Struthers scored at 9:46 when he went in alone, deked and beat Ether after taking the pass from Smith.

Moncton had a power play late in period – the first man advantage for either team to that point – and Jerremy Lapointe (Drummondville, QC) and Cyr had shots in close, but Raaymakers held his ground and kept the 2-0 STFX lead intact through 40 minutes of play.

Shots favored the Aigles Bleus 9-8 in the middle period.

Moncton cracked the goose egg with a goal five minutes into the third period as Jeremy Lapointe knocked in a rebound after Raaymakers made a save off a Yann-Felix Lapointe (Granby, QC) shot from the point.

STFX replied just 46 seconds later as Conner Bruggen-Cate (Langley, BC) banged in a rebound after Ether made the initial save off a shot from Matthew Philip (Ilderton, ON).

The X-Men had a power play opportunity with seven minutes left in the game and fired several shots towards Ether but he held strong in the Moncton net.

Raaymakers remained solid in the X net for the remainder of the game as his squad held on for the win. He recorded 35 saves and earned first star and player of the game honours. The Aigles Bleus outshot the X-Men 36-28.

STFX's Struthers and Smith were the game's second and third stars, respectively.  

The X-Men have two games remaining on the AUS regular season schedule in a key weekend to decide the final playoff postions. They will travel to Halifax Friday night to take on the third place Saint Mary's Huskies (14-13-1-0), before finishing up at home on Saturday night when they host sixth place Acadia (8-15-2-3).

The Aigles Bleus will close out regular season play on the road Friday night with a game against UPEI (12-12-1-3) in Charlottetown.

Final playoff positions will be established after Saturday night's games with the AUS playoff schedule being announced on Sunday and starting on February 14th or 15th. The first round will feature two best-of-three quarterfinal series with the No. 3 seed hosting the No. 6 seed, and the No. 4 seed hosting the No. 5 seeded team. UNB and Moncton will await the quarterfinal winners for the best-of-five semifinal series in the second round.