(Halifax, NS) A spot at the University Cup on the line, the Saint Mary's University Huskies men's hockey team took on the Université de Moncton Aigles Bleus this Monday at the Dauphinee Centre in Halifax. With a 4-2 win, the Huskies are now a game away.
The Huskies had a slow start to the game and the Aigles Bleus jumped ahead with a power play goal just over five minutes into the first.
A pass from Danick Crête (Rigaud, QC) in the slot went to Alexis Roy (Amos, QC) at the back door for a tap in goal to make it 1-0 Moncton. Alexandre Jacob (Dieppe, NB) also got an assist.\
Moncton had a great chance to extend that lead a couple minutes, later when the puck slipped to Joey Richard (Dieppe, NB) left alone in the slot, but goalie Eric Brassard (St. Hubert, QC) got in position to make a nice save.
The Huskies got on the board with just under six minutes left in the period. On the man advantage, it was Dylan Di Perna (Nobleton, ON) at the half wall who snuck a shot past goalie Étienne Montpetit (Valleyfield, QC) after some good puck movement around the perimeter by Saint Mary's. Anthony Repaci (Toronto, ON) and Nicholas Welsh (Halifax, NS) assisted on the goal.
The Huskies had a good scoring chance with three minutes left in the opening period with a pass from Repaci to Mitchell Balmas (Sydney, NS) coming down the left wing. Balmas ripped a shot glove side that Montpetit got a piece of, but the puck landed in the crease and trickled toward the goal line before being cleared by an Aigles Bleus' defender.
A late power play for Saint Mary's closed out the period. After their sluggish start, time on the man advantage saw the Huskies almost catch up in shots; Moncton led 9-7 after the first period while the score remained tied 1-1.
In the second, the Huskies went on the man advantage early and just as the penalty expired and the teams went back to even strength, they scored. Repaci tapped the puck in after a pass across the crease from Conor McGlynn (Oakville, ON). Keith Getson (Bridgewater, NS) also assisted on the goal.
A Moncton power play halfway through the period saw the Huskies hemmed in their own zone for a very long shift, but it was Saint Mary's who struck again with eight minutes to go. In a three on one rush, it was Getson to Repaci to Friend in a tic-tac-toe passing play that made it 3-1 Huskies.
After that, the Aigles Bleus took a time out to compose themselves. Moncton had a nice scoring chance with a shot from Robbie Graham (Richibuctou, NB) that was tipped by Richard, but with no more goals, the second period came to an end with the Aigles Bleus trailing by two goals. Shot after 40 minutes of play read 18-17 in favor of the Huskies.
Special teams were again important in the third period. With about a minute of a five on three advantage, the Aigles Bleus scored to draw within one. Graham walked in from the circle on Brassard's blocker side and beat the goaltender. Alexandre Bernier (Dieppe, NB) got the assist.
Less than two minutes, however, the Huskies regained their lead. A face off in the offensive zone was won back to Welsh on the left point. He walked to the middle and down through the slot before beating Montpetit blocker side to make it 4-2 for the Huskies. Bronson Beaton (Springhill, NS) and Sam King (Hampton, NB) assisted.
The Aigles Bleus made the end of the game interesting. Pulling their goalie with over a minute to go, they were trying to find Maxime St-Cyr for the one timer on Brassard's glove side. The puck didn't get to him, but Brassard made a big save on Richard, who had a shot from point blank range in the slot. After the Huskies took a power play late, Moncton had a two-man advantage but couldn't make up the gap as the game ended 4-2.
The Subway Player of the Game was the Huskies' Anthony Repaci, who had a goal and two assists in their win.
The second game of the best of three series will be played on Wednesday in Moncton. Game three, if necessary, will return to Halifax on March 6.
Sarah Moore, SMU
Photo Nick Pearce