(WOLFVILLE, N.S.) – The StFX X-Men took a stranglehold on the best-of-five Subway AUS Men's Hockey Playoffs semi-final series with a 4-2 win over the host Acadia Axemen Friday evening.
Despite holding a 12-3 home record in regular season play, the Axemen are now 0-2 in Wolfville during the playoffs after consecutive losses to the X-Men and will need a win on Monday night in Antigonish to keep the series alive.
StFX scored three goals in the first period, with the game winner coming off a power-play goal from defenseman Jagger Dirk (Penticton, BC) late in the opening period.
StFX held off a surging Acadia team in the third period for the victory and a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five series.
"We knew they would push hard with us getting the first one, so we had to come out hard too," said the Subway player of the game and first star Eric Locke (Toronto, ON). "Our starts have been unbelievable and we've let up a bit, but our chances have been there and we pulled another win out," commented the X-Men forward.
Three of the X-Men goals came on the man-advantage. "Our power-play was huge to get us some goals early tonight. We like to move the puck quickly on the big ice and spread them out and attack the net when the play is there," noted Locke.
For the second night in a row, the StFX X-Men held a two-goal lead by the end of the first period and were up 3-1 heading into the second.
The first X-Men goal came just over a minute into the opening period from the captain Locke.
He scored on a rebound that came off Axemen goaltender Devin Williams' (Detroit, MI) pad, giving the X-Men an early lead.
Just over two minutes later, StFX added to their lead with a power play goal from Holden Cook (Oshawa, ON). Cook dove for puck in front of the net, and shoveled it by Williams to put the X-Men up by two.
StFX continued their scoring streak in the first period with a second power-play goal at 15:28 as Dirk fired a wrist shot from the point that beat Williams high, right side,
It was at this point that the Acadia bench decided to pull Williams in favor of Robert Steeves (Moncton, NB) who started between the posts in Game 1.
Acadia responded with a power play goal of their own late in the first period. Daniel Pettersson (Toronto, ON) scored his first of two goals on the night against StFX goalie Chase Marchand (Halifax, NS).
StFX outshot the Axemen 12-4 in the opening period, with Acadia registering their first shot of the game after the halfway point of the period.
Following a StFX-dominated first period, Acadia had a much stronger showing in the second frame. Despite 10 shots aside in the middle period, neither team was able to capitalize on any scoring chances and the game remained 3-1 in favor of the X-Men after 40 minutes.
Pettersson scored his second goal of the night 6:26 into the third period, to put Acadia within one goal.
That was as close as the Axemen would get, as X-Men forward Mark Tremaine (Dartmouth, NS) scored on the empty net with under a minute remaining to solidify the 4-2 X-Men win.
Axemen goalie Williams turned aside three of six shots, before being pulled for Steeves, who posted a shutout stopping all 23 shots he faced. Meanwhile, StFX netminder Marchand stopped 28 of 30 shots.
The series will now shift to Antigonish, NS on Monday night, Feb. 27 for Game 3 of the best-of-five Subway AUS semifinal series. Puck drop is at 7 p.m. at the StFX Keating Centre as the X-Men look for a series sweep and the Axemen look to hang on to their playoff life.
If necessary, Game 4 will go Tuesday, Feb. 28 at StFX, also at 7 p.m.
Source: Acadia Athletics Communications