(Halifax, NS) In game one of the AUS best of five semifinal series, the Saint Mary's Huskies hosted the StFX X-Men at the forum. The Huskies had two second period goals and one in the third, to shut out the X-Men 3-0 and take a 1-0 lead in the best of five series.
The game got off to a slow start, with nearly three minutes elapsing before the first shot on goal.
With an early power play, the X-Men were the first to generate a scoring chance with a shot from Adam Stevens (Bedford, NS) that beat goalie Eric Brassard (St. Hubert, QC) glove side and rang off the post.
After that, it was end to end action. The Huskies dominated on the forecheck, chipping pucks in deep and chasing after the X-Men. The X-Men defenders, however, tied up the Huskies in front of the net, making sure any passes from the corner went right through the slot.
The best chance of the period for the Huskies came from captain Calder Brooks (Emerald Park, SK). Grabbing the puck on a turnover just outside the X-Men blue line, he created a three on two and sent a wrist shot that goalie Chase Marchand (Halifax, NS) managed to grab with the very edge of his left pad.
The score at the end of the first period was 0-0, with the Huskies taking a 12-7 edge in shots.
Saint Mary's opened the scoring just over a minute into the second period. A shot from the point from Nicholas Welsh (Halifax, NS) went off the post and behind Marchand, and Jake Coughler (St. Catharine's, ON) tapped in the rebound.
They nearly had another goal several minutes later on the power play, with Coughler tipping a shot from Welsh up and hitting the crossbar.
The physicality ramped up after that, with over half the second period being played on the man advantage.
The X-Men had a great breakaway chance from Holden Cook (Whitby, ON), who got a step on the Saint Mary's defence at the red line and went in on Brassard all alone, but Brassard made a sprawling save to keep the score 1-0.
The Huskies added another goal with just over four minutes to go in the period. Picking up the puck at the red line, Hunter Garlent (Thorold, ON) entered the zone down the left wing before passing to Bronson Beaton (Springhill, NS) in the high slot, who sent it right back to Garlent for a low wrist shot that put the Huskies up by two.
The X-Men had a five on three power play advantage six minutes into the third period and they were buzzing, trying to close the two-goal deficit. They had chances but couldn't capitalize on any opportunities, and it was the Huskies who scored the only goal of the period.
This time it was Thomas Stavert (Summerside, PEI) finding the back of the net eight minutes in. Connor McGlynn (Oakville, ON) and Austyn Hardie (Halifax, NS) had the assists on the play.
The X-Men had a power play with just over two minutes left in the game and pulled their goalie for the two-man advantage, but couldn't close the gap as the game ended 3-0 in favour of the Huskies.
The Subway Player of the Game for the Huskies with the game winning goal was Jake Coughler. For the X-Men, it was Cole MacDonald (Wetaskiwin, AB), who had five shots on goal.
Game two of the series will be on February 23 at the Halifax Forum. Puck drop is at 7 p.m.
Sarah Moore, SMU
Photo Nick Pearce