Wolfville, N.S. – The Acadia Axemen snapped a three-game losing streak in the playoffs, beating the Saint Mary's Huskies 5-1 on Monday night in Wolfville. Acadia now holds a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three consolation series. The winner of the consolation series will be the third of three AUS teams to qualify for the U SPORTS championship hosted by UNB.
Prior to the game, Axemen forward Brandon Childerley (Stratford, Ont.) received a standing ovation from the Wolfville crowd after coming out for a ceremonious puck drop. Childerley is currently out of the line-up following health complications from a game on Feb. 23.
Axemen forward Chance Braid (Wainwright, Alta.) scored the game-winner, with 7:14 left to play in the second.
Braid was in the slot, and fired a one-timer, off a pass from Remy Giftopoulos (Ancaster, Ont.), and buried it in the top right corner of the net, to give the Axemen a 2-1 lead and the eventual win.
Following a period of solid chances from both sides, Acadia opened the scoring late in the first period, with a goal from forward, Brett Thompson (Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.).
Thompson came in through the middle of the Huskies zone, before taking a pass and burying the puck in top right corner of the net, past Huskies goaltender Cole Cheveldave (Calgary, Alta.) to put Acadia up 1-0 at the end of the opening period.
Acadia held a 12-8 lead in shots on goal, heading into the second frame.
Saint Mary's tied the game up a few minutes before the midway point of the second period with a power-play goal from Hunter Garlent (Thorold, Ont.).
Garlent stepped out of the left corner, coming out just past the goal line, before firing a low shot into the bottom right corner of the net, past Axemen goaltender Robert Steeves (Moncton, N.B.), to tie the game at 1-1.
Acadia once again took the lead at the 12:36 marker with the goal from Braid.
Adding to their lead, Axemen rookie Stephen Harper (Burlington, Ont.) scored from the seat of his pants late in the second to put Acadia up 3-1 heading into the third period.
Despite leading in shots, 23-21 by the end of the second, Saint Mary's was unable to capitalize on their chances, in part to a phenomenal performance by Robert Steeves in the Axemen net.
Saint Mary's was unable to come back in the third, as the Axemen scored two empty net goals in the last two minutes of the third period to win 5-1.
The first goal was an empty net shot from Boston Leier (Saskatoon, Sask.), while the fifth goal was scored by Scott Trask (Bonavista, Nfld.), who fired the puck, in close, past a sprawling Cheveldave to put the game away once and for all.
First star honours went Steeves, while second and third star went to Saint Mary's forward, Hunter Garlent and senior forward Brett Thompson, respectively.
"I definitely thought we played really well tonight", said Steeves following the game. "We stayed out of the box, the guys let me see everything and there was no chippiness out there and we stayed with our game and it paid off."
When asked what he thought of the game two in Halifax, Steeves pointed out the importance of the consolation series to the team. "Yah definitely, at the Forum on Wednesday will be a big one and I know we all really want to go to the Nationals obviously, so I hope we bring the same effort we did tonight and we should be good", commented Steeves.
Axemen goalie, Robert Steeves turned aside 32 of 33 shots, while his Saint Mary's counterpart, Cole Cheveldave stopped 22 of 26 shots.
The game was relatively penalty free, with both teams combining for eight penalty minutes on the night.
Saint Mary's went 1-for-2 on the power-play for the night, where they scored their only goal of the game, while the Axemen went 0-for-2.
The series will now shift to Halifax, NS on Wednesday night for game two of the best-of-three series. If necessary, game three will return to Wolfville on Fri., Mar. 10, with puck drop for both games will be at 7:00pm.
Source: Josh Foote, Acadia Athletics Communications Office