The Saint Mary's Huskies (15-5-1) won 8-5 over the University de Moncton Aigles Bleus (3-16-2) in a high-scoring affair Wednesday night at the Halifax Forum.
Anthony Repaci (Toronto, Ont.) led the way for SMU with a hat-trick. Noah Zilbert (Fredericton, N.B.) added a goal and two assists, while Stephen Shipley (Ilderton, Ont.), Michael Curtis (Georgetown, Ont.), Jake Coughler (St. Catharines, Ont.) and Thomas Stavert (Kensington, P.E.I.) each lit the lamp.
Eric Brassard (St. Hubert, Que.) finished with 28 saves picking up the win.
Joey Richard (Dieppe, N.B.) scored twice for U de M, while Vincent Deslauriers (Blainville, Que.), Jean-François Plante (Sherbrooke, Que.) and Alexis Roy (Amos, Que.) also tallied.
Alexi Thibaudeau (Gatineau, Que.) got the start for Moncton and made 20-saves on 23-shots before Brandon Thibeau (Riverview, N.B.) came in to make 13-saves on 17 shots the rest of the way.
The Huskies move four-points back of the UNB Varsity Reds and StFX X-Men for the top spot in the AUS, though SMU has played one more game.
The Aigles Bleus sit in the final playoff spot one-point up on the Dalhousie Tigers.
Zilbert got the scoring started for SMU 3:53 into the game. Conor McGlynn (Oakville, Ont.) won an O-zone draw back to Austyn Hardie (Montreal, Que.) on the left point. Hardie sent it down low to Taylor Burke (Halifax, N.S.). Burke worked behind the net and fed Zilbert who snapped it in low glove from just below the right-dot.
Repaci netted his first just over three-minutes later. The Huskies got the cycle game going in the Aigles Bleus-zone, Aaron Berisha (Mississauga, Ont.) got it to Hunter Garlent (Thorold, Ont.) behind the net, he spotted Repaci just inside the left circle hash-marks and Repaci scored on a wrister low glove side.
Shipley finished on a pretty passing play to make it 3-0 at the 9:08 mark of the first. On a three-on-two Burke moved up the rightwing across the U de M blue-line, he drew a defender in and dished it to Stephen Johnson (Moncton, N.B.) flying through the right-circle. Johnson slipped it across the front of the net to a wide-open Shipley and he buried it over the pad.
Richard made it 3-1 with a power-play goal 2:46 into the second. Mitchell Robillard (Laval-Ouest, Que.) picked up the puck in the right corner of the SMU-zone and centered for Marc-Anthony Therrien (Nicolet, Que.). Therrien directed it across to Richard who snapped it home top-shelf from in tight.
Deslauriers made it 3-2 7:37 into the second. Justin-Sébastien Fournier (Lévis, Que.) forced a turnover inside the U de M blue-line and fed it up to Roy who worked up the left-wing and spotted Deslauriers flying through the high-slot. Deslauriers carried a couple steps and ripped a wrist shot high blocker from just inside the right-circle at the hash-marks.
Curtis stretched the Huskies lead back to two just 14-seconds later. Coughler got the puck in the SMU zone and found Curtis working through the neutral zone. Curtis worked a give-and-go with Mark Trickett (Baddeck, N.S.) into the Moncton-zone. Trickett got it back to Curtis crashing towards the net and Curtis buried on the forehand.
Richard's second got U de M within one again with 2:32 left in the middle frame. Plante used his skate to deflect it to Therrien in the Aigles Bleus zone. Therrien carried through the neutral zone and got it down-low behind the Huskies net. Richard swooped in to pick up the puck and scored on a wraparound.
Repaci put Saint Mary's up 5-3 4:02 into the third. Hardie held the puck in at the line and sent it cross-ice to Repaci who caught and ripped it home low-glove from just above the right dot.
Repaci's hat-trick goal made it 6-3 for SMU just over two-minutes later. He intercepted a clearing attempt at the blue-line walked into the slot and snapped it high-blocker.
The game finished with a flurry of goals in the final three-minutes.
Plante got the Aigles Bleus closer with three-minutes left. Plante got the puck at the right-point in the Huskies-zone and sent it down low to Richard who won a battle in the corner and got it back to Plante in the slot where he sniped high-blocker.
Roy made it a one goal game at 6-5 just 42-seconds later. Deslauriers worked into the SMU-zone on the left wing and centered the puck. It deflected off the skate of Robbie Graham (Richibuctou, N.B.) onto the stick of Roy who snapped it home high-glove from the slot.
Coughler let the Huskies breath easier making it 7-5 with 1:28 left. Stavert worked in on a two-on-one with Zilbert. Zilbert shot was stopped and Coughler buried the rebound into an open cage.
Stavert potted an empty-netter to make it 8-5 with a minute left. In the Saint Mary's-zone Curtis sent the puck around to Zilbert on the right-wall and he chipped it clear to Stavert, who worked through the neutral zone and slipped a backhand into the empty-net.
Shots were 41-33 in favour of SMU.
Up next, the Huskies go on the road to Wolfville N.S. to face the Acadia Axemen on Friday, January 12. The Aigles Bleus will be at home in Moncton to host the Axemen on Saturday, January 13.
Photo Nick Pearce