WOLFVILLE, N.S. – The U SPORTS No. 10 ranked StFX X-Men spoiled the No. 5 Acadia's first playoff game of the 2016-17 season, defeating the Axemen 4-3 in double OT to take a 1-0 lead, in the best-of-5 series.
The Axemen dominated for long stretches of the game, but were constantly playing catch up, as they fell behind 2-0 after the first period, before tying the game up in the second and forcing overtime in the third frame.
Acadia fell behind late in the first period, when the X-Men scored on the man-advantage to jump out to a 1-0 lead.
The goal came from StFX forward, Kristoff Kontos (Penetanguishene, Ont.), who let a wrist shot go that caught the top left corner, breaking Axemen goaltender, Robert Steeves' (Moncton, N.B.) water bottle.
The X-Men added to their lead, with a goal from rookie forward, Matt Needham (Penticton, B.C.), who scored in tight on Steeves, from a rebounded shot from the point. Needham flipped the puck up over Steeves shoulder to give the X-Men a 2-0 lead.
Acadia led 16-13 in shots by the end of the first, despite trailing 2-0.
Refusing to let the game get away from them, the Axemen managed to tie the game in the second period, with goals from veterans, Remy Giftopoulos (Ancaster, Ont.) and Brett Thompson (Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.) to send the Wolfville crowd into a frenzy.
The first goal of the second frame came from Giftopoulos on the penalty-kill, one-minute into the period. Giftopoulos stole the puck in the X-Men zone and fired a shot into the top left corner of the net, past StFX goalie Chase Marchand (Halifax, N.S.).
Axemen forward Kyle Farrell (Howie Center, N.S.), fired a stretch pass from the defensive zone, up to Boston Leier (Saskatoon, Sask.), who came in on a 2-on-1 break with Thompson and held onto to the puck coming in on the left side of the ice.
After drawing the defenseman's stick over to his side, Leier ripped a crisp pass across to Thompson, who buried the puck into the top right corner of the net, past a sprawling Marchand to tie the game at 2-2.
Penalty trouble for Acadia led to X-Men taking a 3-2 lead with 7:13 remaining in the third period.
The power-play goal came from StFX's Bryson Cianfrone (Stoney Creek, Ont.) on a point shot that went in past a large crowd in front of the Axemen net.
That lead did not last for long as rookie Axeman Stephen Harper (Burlington, Ont.), tied the game once again with 4:21 left to play in regulation time.
Thinking he had the puck covered, X-Men goalie Chase Marchand sat waiting for the whistle with the puck showing between his legs. Harper flew in and jammed the puck between Marchand's legs to tie the game at three.
With the game tied at three after regulation time, a sudden death 10-minute overtime period was to decide the winner.
Although the first overtime period saw good chances from both sides, neither team could capitalize, forcing a second overtime period of 20-minutes following an intermission to flood the ice.
At 6:28 of the second overtime period, defenseman Cole MacDonald (Wetaskiwin, Alta.), while streaking in on a 3-on-2 rush, MacDonald fired a wrist shot past a falling Steeves to give the X-Men a 1-0 series lead.
"To be honest, I was just trying to get it (the shot) on net. If you miss the net, it's not going to go in obviously. I was just trying to get a quick shot off and luckily it went it", commented MacDonald when asked what he was thinking leading up the eventual game winner.
Axemen goaltender Robert Steeves turned aside 27 of 31 shots, while his StFX counterpart, Chase Marchand, stopped 45 of 48 shots on the night.
Subway First Star of the Night went to StFX defenseman Cole MacDonald, while second and third stars of the night went to Axemen forward Boston Leier and X-Men goaltender Chase Marchand, respectively.
Game two of the best of five semi-final series will take place Friday night in Wolfville, with puck drop at 7:00pm on Bell Aliant Fibe TV1, austv.ca or AVR 97.7 FM locally.
NOTE: Axeman Geoff Schemitsch was named the AUS Most Sportsmanlike Player of the 2016-17 season and he was also honoured as a first team AUS All-Star. Teammate Matthew Pufahl was named as a second team All-Star, while Stephen Harper was named to the All-Rookie squad.