Wolfville, N.S. – The upset is complete in Wolfville. Backed by a two-point night for team leading scorer Liam Kidney and some Conor McCollum heroics in net, the Acadia Axemen have sent the StFX X-Men packing — in the same building that the latter grabbed U SPORTS bronze last spring.
After stunning X on Wednesday night in Antigonish, Acadia treated its home crowd of more than 1,500 to a convincing 4-1 triumph at the Andrew H. McCain Arena. The Axemen had it going early and often. Controlling most of the first period’s offence, Corson Hopwo struck just over six minutes in for the first goal. After another six minutes, Keegan Stevenson extended the Acadia lead to two, which was the score after one period.
Things started to get physical midway through the second, leading to a StFX power play. That’s when Adam Holwell found the twine to cut the deficit to one for the visitors. But that was short-lived, as captain Jack Flaman responded less than two minutes later on a beauty of a wraparound, restoring the two-goal lead heading into the intermission.
The Axemen were plagued with penalties early in the third period, including a brief five-on-three for the offensively-potent X-Men. Yet — in what could end up being the story of this series — the X-Men failed to solve a red-hot McCollum and a stingy kill for the underdogs. Despite a regular-season power play running at 23.5 per cent, X’s power play finished the night 1/8 and (crazier) 1/12 in the series.
McCollum’s best period was the last, where he turned aside 13 StFX shots. That included a Zack Trott breakaway with three minutes left on the clock, corraled by the sliding netminder. Moments later, Kidney cashed in on the empty netter to seal the deal. Of the 13 combined goals in the two-game series, none were scored by AUS leading scorers Liam Hawel, Jacob Hudson or Matthew Struthers of StFX.
Now, the Axemen await the result of the other quarterfinal between the UPEI Panthers and Moncton Aigles Bleus, where Moncton leads one game to zip. Should the Aigles Bleus hang onto the series, Acadia will play the Saint Mary’s Huskies in the AUS semifinals while Moncton and the UNB Reds rekindle their New Brunswick rivalry.
However, if the favoured UPEI Panthers fight their way back, Acadia will draw UNB and UPEI will head to Halifax to play the Huskies.
Photo: Acadia Axemen Hockey