ST F X scores 2 in first, another in second to hold on for win

ST F X scores 2 in first, another in second to hold on for win

(Fredericton) -  St. F. X scored two goals nearly a minute apart in the first period, then added another in the second, en route to a 3 to 2 win over the Varsity Reds, in the first game of the best of three Subway AUS Men's Hockey finals.  The two teams meet again Wednesday night in Antigonish.

X-Man Adam Stevens scored at 14:43 on a nice give-and-go play with Kris Kontos, and Holden Cook made it 2 to 0 just 62 seconds later on a power play goal that redirected off the UNB defense past UNB goalie Etienne Marcoux.  

UNB out shot St F X 13 to 7 in the first period. St. F. X. brought the shots within 2 in the second period firing from close in and from the outside to try to beat Marcoux.
Michael Clarke scored the game-winning goal at 5:07in second period, tying the shots at 14 at that point. Randy Gazzola put UNB on the scoreboard with a drive from the point at 18:19, in the second, and St. F. X. took a 3 to 1 lead into the second intermission.

Philippe Maillet added another for UNB at 5:34 in the third, but tenacious forechecking and a team effort to block shots ensured the Varsity Reds could not get another past St. F. X goaltender Drew Owsley, who faced 39 shots in the game.

Owsley saw the importance of the win. "For me, I'm a fourth year player, and it is my first win in the Aitken Centre," he said. 

However, Owsley was quick to give credit to his teammates. "In the last five minutes, the boys blocked at least 10 shots, to help me. The D-men were pushing people out of the slot, and forwards were keeping it outside so it helped me."

"We need a big win now on Wednesday, and hopefully we can win it at home for our fans," he said.

St. F. X coach Brad Peddle also recognized the team effort. "Everyone blocked shots, and when we got up by a couple, we were playing responsible hockey," he said.  Both teams only had two penalties each, in a fast skating game.

UNB coach Gardiner MacDougall was deflated after the loss. "One of the keys when you are on the road is to get that first goal, then you've got the jump, then you play with more confidence. That was the case here tonight," he said.

"We've gone from an AUS elimination game to an AUS final, and we have to step up. We've got to show more commitment and consistency. "

MacDougall sees the key to this series is which team gets better. "A couple of turn overs cost us tonight. The team that improves the most will be the most successful in this series, " he said.

Shots on goal were 38 to 29 for UNB.

Photo credit:  Brian Smith