Wolfville, N.S. – The U SPORTS No. 5 ranked Acadia Axemen (20-8-2) ended their regular season on a high note, erasing a two-goal deficit in the second period to knock off the StFX X-Men (16-12-2) by an 8-5 score.
Not looking to disappoint the fans, the third period saw a wild circularity of Acadia getting two separate two-goal leads, before having the X-Men respond with a goal of their own each time. Unfortunately for the X-Men, that was as close as they came to recapturing their lead.
Acadia opened the scoring early in the first period, with a power-play goal from Boston Leier (Saskatoon, SK), after he picked up a rebound from a point shot by Kyle Farrell (Howie Center, NS). Leier fired a low backhand past X-Men goalie Brandon Hope (Canton, MI) for his 18th goal of the regular season.
StFX responded quickly with a goal of their own from X-Men forward, Michael Clarke (London, ON), who fired a quick snapshot from the inside edge of the right faceoff circle past Axemen goalie Robert Steeves (Moncton, NB).
The X-Men took the lead late in the first, on a tip-in from StFX forward Regan Spears (Port Hood, NS). Spears finished off the pass from forward Nathan Pancel (Ottawa, ON) and put the puck in the top right corner of a wide-open net to give the X-Men a 2-1 lead heading into the second.
The first period also featured phenomenal glove saves from both Steeves and Hope, with Acadia leading in shots 14-12.
Opening the second period, X-Men forward Sam Studnicka (Windsor, ON) came in tight on the Acadia net and tucked the puck in on the left post, past Steeves' glove to give the X-Men a 3-1 lead.
Looking to respond in a big way, Brandon Childerley (Stratford, ON), scored two goals in less than a minute apart to tie the game late in the second. The first goal came from a tip on a point shot from defenseman Geoff Schemitsch (Thornhill, ON). The redirection from Childerley beat Hope five-hole, to put the Axemen within one goal.
Childerley continued his tear 57 seconds later, firing a slap-shot from the top of the right face-off circle, once again beating Hope five-hole to tie the game.
Heading into the third, StFX held a 27-25 lead in shots on goal with the game tied at 3-3.
Axemen forward Farrell buried the puck past a sprawling X-Men goaltender on a 2-on-1 with Taylor Makin (Lethbridge, AB) to give the Axemen a 4-3 lead.
Adding to their lead less than a minute later, senior forward Michael Clarke (Halifax, NS) redirected Matthew Pufahl's (Saskatoon, SK) point shot high blocker side to give the Axemen a two-goal lead.
Unwilling to go away, the X-Men responded with a goal from defenseman Cole MacDonald (Wetaskiwin, AB) who came in tight and placed the puck low left side, past Steeves to put the X-Men within one again.
Veteran forward Brett Thompson (Sault Ste. Marie, ON) answered by stripping the puck from the StFX forwards in their own zone and turning to fire a puck into the top left corner of the StFX net to restore Acadia's two-goal lead.
Once again, StFX answered with a wrap-around Studnicka to put them within one goal for the second time in the period.
Acadia added two empty net goals from Makin and Farrell to put the game out of reach.
The Subway player of the game and first star of the night went to Axemen forward Makin, while second and third stars were StFX forward Studnicka and Acadia defenseman Alex Lepkowski (Buffalo, NY), respectively.
Makin pointed out the importance of the win for the Axemen. "It's big for us. It was nice getting a win before heading into the playoffs."
"We'll probably face them in the second round if things go the way they should. Nice to get some confidence against them," added Makin.
Axemen goaltender, Robert Steeves, turned aside 28 of 33 shots, while X-Men goalie Brandon Hope stopped 28 of 34 shots on the night.
The StFX X-Men will face off against the Moncton Aigles Bleus in the first round of the playoffs, while the Axemen have secured a first round bye into the semi-finals.
The StFX-Moncton series begins on Wednesday, February 15th in Antigonish, NS with game time at 7:00 pm.
Courtesy Josh Foote, Acadia Athletics Communications