Antigonish, NS – Led by a hat trick performance from Jean-François Plante (Sherbrooke, QC), the visiting Université de Moncton Aigles Bleus (9-12-1) skated to a 6-5 overtime victory over the StFX X-Men (12-9-2) at the Charles V. Keating Centre Saturday night.
Plante scored the game winning goal 3:16 into the three-on-three overtime period, breaking in alone on X-Men goaltender Brandon Hope (Canton, MI). As Hope came out of his crease to challenge him, Plante pulled the deke and snuck the puck behind Hope for the win.
The fast-paced first period saw the X-Men get out to an early 1-1 lead as Kristof Kontos (Penetanguishene, ON) scored unassisted 53 seconds in, scoring right off a face-off draw and beating Aigles Bleus netminder Alexi Thibaudeau (Gatineau, QC).
Forward Robbie Graham (Richibuctou, NB) answered for the Aigles Bleus at 11:03 as he scored off a Samuel LeBlanc (Moncton, NB) assist.
With under three minutes in the opening period Plante almost scored the go-ahead goal for Moncton as he capitalized on an X-Men turnover at centre ice and skated in alone but was turned aside by Hope.
Craig Duininck (St. Cloud, MN) had a good chance in tight for X late in the period but Thibaudeau was up for the save and the 1-1 score remained after 20 minutes and a 13-11 shot advantage for StFX.
The X-Men started off the second period similar to the first, scoring a quick goal. Team leading scorer Holden Cook (Oshawa, ON) tallied 1:49 into the period, from Aaron Hoyles (Gander, NL) and Nathan Pancel (Ottawa, ON).
Plante scored his first goal of the night (unassisted) to tie the game at 2-2 at the 12:31 minute mark.
The Aigles Bleus then took their first lead of the evening as Samuel Roussy (Paspébiac, QC) scored a power play marker at 14:51. His screen shot from the point off passes from Marc-Anthony Therrien (Nicolet, QC) and Graham beat Hope high over the shoulder.
Bryson Cianfrone Stoney Creek, ON) almost connected with his linemate Locke for a StFX goal shortly after, but Thibaudeau held his ground on consecutive shots on net in tight from Locke.
The X-Men would score the equalizer before the end of period, however, as Matt Needham (Pentincton, BC) and Turnbull found Adam Stevens (Bedford, NS) in front of the net and his quick shot beat Thibaudeau.
The X-Men outshoot the Aigles Bleus 18-8 in the middle period.
The home team started the third period on the power play and scored what they thought was a power play goal just 30 seconds in as the goal light came off, but the game officials waved off the goal and play resumed.
The Aigles Bleus then brought the puck up ice and Plante was fed the puck for a breakaway chance which he made no mistake capitalizing on the shorthanded shot. His unassisted goal – second of the night – came at 0:39.
Just over a minute later, Carl Marois (Montmagny, QC) skated through an X-Men opening and broke in to face Hope and his high shot that went in off the goalie's shoulder gave Moncton a 5-3 lead early in the third period. Mitchell Robillard (Laval-Ouest, QC) and Victor Beaulac (Saint-Hyacinthe, QC) assisted on the 1:54 Marois marker.
In a hard-hitting third period, the X-Men kept the chances coming on Thibaudeau. Kontos and Locke were turned aside on a 2-on-1 chance nine minutes in.
They closed the gap at 12:31 when Thibaudeau thought he made the save on a Cole MacDonald (Wetaskiwin, AB) shot, but he didn't have the puck fully covered with his glove on the ice and the stray puck was quickly scooped up by Cianfrone who buried it in the open net.
The X-Men pressed for the equalizing goal, throwing shots on the Aigles Bleus net. They pulled Hope from the net in favor of the extra attacker with just over two minutes to play.
The move was a good one as the X-Men scored the game-tying goal at 18:49. Defenseman Max Iafrate (Livonia, IL) blasted a shot from the point through traffic that found its way to the back of the Moncton net. Cianfrone and Mark Tremaine (Dartmouth, NS) had the helpers.
Each team had their share of chances to score in the overtime period but it was the Subway player of the game and first star Plante who sealed the win for the Aigles Bleus, scoring his third goal of the night.
Aigles Bleus forward Graham earned second star honors and StFX's Cianfrone was the third star.
The X-Men ended up with the shot advantage in the game at 46-35.
Thibaudeau picked up his seventh win of the season with 41 saves. Hope turned aside 29 shots in the losing effort for the X-Men who still picked up a single point in the AUS standings with the overtime loss.
The Aigles Bleus will take to the ice again on Wednesday, January 18th as they travel to Dalhousie for a 7pm match-up in Halifax.
The X-Men will host the same Dalhousie squad on Friday, January 1st, also at 7:00 pm.