Wolfville, N.S. – The U SPORTS No. 7 ranked Acadia Axemen (7-2-1) won in a nail-biting 6-5 OT win, which saw the Axemen lose a 5-1 lead, on Friday night against the No. 3 StFX X-Men (8-1-1).
There was clearly bad blood between the two teams, who combined for 212 penalty minutes. Axemen forward and Subway First Star of the Night, Stephen Harper was the overtime hero.
"I took a dumb penatly in the third period. I felt like I had to make up for it. I was looking to pass it to Kyle but when I saw him go down, I tried to make a quick move to my left and get a shot out and I was lucky it went it," said Harper after the game.
Harper scored on a partial breakaway, lifting the puck over the left pad of the X-Men goalie at the 2:05 mark of extra time and ignited the home crowd of over 1800 fans.
Despite being outshot 16-8 in the first period, Acadia held a commanding 3-1 lead heading into the second.
StFX responded before the half-way mark of the first frame, when second star of the night, Sam Studnicka scored on his second attempt after the first was blocked by an Axemen defender.
Acadia regained the lead a minute later when forward Stephen Harper rushed end-to-end and fired a wrist shot that hit the top of the goaltender's glove and rolled into the net
The Axemen added to their lead on the man-advantage from Rodney Southam. Southam took a pass from Harper and rifled the puck into the top left corner of the net to give Acadia a 3-1 advantage.
The Axemen pushed to a 5-2 in a highly physical second period.
Once again Harper connected with Southam, who buried a wrist shot past the X-Men goalie Chase Marchand for his second power-play goal of the night.
Axemen forward Boston Leier added to the lead when he fired a wrist shot under the crossbar while falling to make it 5-1 Acadia.
Near the closing of the second period, both teams had four players ejected from the game during an exchange of words and blows that got the home crowd on their feet. Combined, the teams accumulated 146 penalty minutes and it took the referees over 10 minutes to sort out.
By the end of the ejections, the Axemen and X-Men were left with 12 and 15 players, respectively, including their goalies.
Once the game resumed, StFX scored their first of four power-play goals in the last minute of the period from Santino Centorame, making it 5-2 heading to the third.
The X-Men took advantage of a depleted Axemen team mired in penalty troubles in the third, scoring two power-play goals early in the final period off a point shot by Michael Clarke and a redirection by Nathan Pancel.
A mad scramble ensued in front of the Axemen goal with less than a minute to play in the game when X-Men forward Bryson Cianfrone shoveled the puck past the Axemen goaltender Robert Steeves to send the game to extra time, where Harper dashed the hopes of a X-Men comeback.
Harper pointed out after the game, it was a big win for the Axemen.
"Never in my life, have I never seen anything like that. To see 10 guys on the bench and they got a full bench. It's kind of hard. I am really proud the way the boys battled tonight, because that was gutsy," said Harper.
Steeves turned aside 39 of 44 shots and was named the Subway Third Star. X-Men goaltender Chase Marchand was pulled after allowing 4 goals on 8 shots, while his replacement, Brandon Hope turned aside 21 of 23 shots.
The Axemen hit the ice again with home games on Wednesday Nov. 8 against the Saint Mary's Huskies and Friday Nov. 10 against the Moncton Aigles Bleu. Puck drop for both games is 7:00pm.
Submitted by Joshua Foote, Acadia Athletics Communications