New Glasgow, NS - In an inter-conference pre-season match up held at the Pictou County Wellness Centre, the visiting UQTR Patriotes edged the balance of play and skated to a 2-1 victory over the StFX X-Men in what was a well-played, if at times undisciplined encounter.
The first period gave little indication that this was a pre-season exhibition game with the two teams playing excellent two-way hockey. There was great back-checking by both sets of forwards and a number of two-on-one chances by forwards in transition.
StFX had the first power-play opportunity of the game and worked the puck around well with Craig Dunnick (St Cloud, MN) putting a good shot on net with Patriotes netminder, Sébastien Auger St-Augustin-de-Desmaures, QC), equal to the task.
The best chance of the UQTR power-play went to Nicolas Larivière (Sayabec, QC), who rushed down the wing and forced X netminder Chase Marchand (Halifax, NS) to make his first of many nice glove saves on the night.
The final few minutes of the period saw indiscipline by the Trois-Rivieres school end up in a five-on-three advantage for the X-Men. The Patriotes were duly punished when Dunnick scored on a brilliant one-timer shot from a nice feed by Nathan Pancel (Ottawa, ON) with the second assist going to Holden Cook (Oshawa, ON) with just three seconds remaining in the period.
The second period began with more quality play by both teams but, for a few minutes was interrupted by rough play by both teams. Sam Studnicka (Windsor, ON), was assessed a hit to the head minor and a ten-minute misconduct. Not long after the Patriotes' Gabriel Slight (Riviere-du-Loup, QC) was given a five-minute major for cross-checking and a game misconduct.
The resulting StFX power-play saw good puck movement, but no real dangerous chances. The Patriotes levelled the score with 6:58 remaining when Raphael Maheux (Quebec City, QC) found Bruno-Carl Denis (St-Ubald, QC) in the high slot, who fired a wrist-shot pass Marchand. The Patriotes not long after took the 2-1 lead on a goal by Julien Gagné (St-Maurice, QC) who buried a rebound on the initial shot by Raphael Larose (Trois-Rivieres, QC).
The third period saw the X-Men up their intensity in search of an equalizer with sophmores Bryson Cianfrone (Stoney Creek, ON) and Matt Needham (Penticton, BC) in particular showing great skill and speed.
On the defensive end for the Patriotes, the pairing of Jonathan Deschamps (Trois-Rivieres, QC) and Alexandre Leclerc (Chicoutimi) were impressive throughout.
With 9:16 remaining the X-Men had a four-minute power-play but could not solve Auger, who yielded no rebound chances to speak of all game.
The game's closing minutes saw Olivier Caouette (Shebrooke, QC), assessed a five-minute major and a game misconduct for a hit to the head. It was an unfortunate end for a player who had played such a great game. The X-Men finished the game on the power-play, but could not find the key to unlock what was a composed Patriotes defensive unit.
The Patriotes finished with 32 shots on Marchand while StFX put 27 shots on Auger.
The X-Men dressed only four of their regular defenceman. Forward and assistant captain Brent Turnbull (Stellarton, NS) filled in on defence and played his usual calm and composed style of game.
The two teams will meet again on Saturday in Antigonish. The puck drops at 4:00 pm at the Antigonish Arena.
Courtesy Bart Sears, StFX Athletics Communications