Axemen extend streak to 6 with win over CIS No. 2 UNB

CIS No. 5 ranked Acadia hands Varsity Reds their first loss

16/11/2013 12:11 am

FREDERICTON, N.B. – The CIS No. 5 ranked Acadia Axemen gained ground on the undefeated CIS No. 2 UNB Varsity Reds in the AUS men’s hockey standings with a 4-3 overtime shootout win. The Varsity Reds experienced their first loss of the regular season in a game that posted a 21-20 shots on net Acadia advantage in regulation time.

UNB grabbed a quick early lead only 20 seconds into the opening period when Adrian Robertson scored on the UNB man advantage. Acadia’s Joe Gaynor was handed a two minute roughing penalty after only 12 seconds of time came off the clock after the opening faceoff.

Just over five minutes later, AUS All-Star defenceman Chris Owens scored on a one-timer fed by Brett Thompson on the powerplay to tie the game for the first of three times. Before the end of the first frame, V-Red Cam Braes put UNB back in the lead on the third and last powerplay goal of the night.

Outshooting UNB 8-6 and landing several late period opportunities to tie the game, the Axemen carried the momentum into the second period, tying the game at two only 11 seconds into the second frame when Dustin Ekelman picked up an errant pass and took it home.

UNB captain Chris Culligan tied put UNB ahead by one with a mid-second period goal to give the Varsity Reds their third and last lead. A captain’s goal was followed by Acadia captain Liam Heelis’ eighth goal of the season with 22 seconds remaining in the second.

A scoreless third period pushed the tight game into overtime and after a 8-5 shots on net Acadia advantage, the game was settled in a shoot-out. With Cam Braes netting the first shoot-out goal, second year sniper Brett Thompson scored by beating UNB goalie Charles Lavigne on the top corner. Following Taylor MacDougall’s missed opportunity, Axeman Alex Beaton pocketed the game winner.

Third year forward, Liam Heelis, pointed out that the team stood up to the challenge handed to them with their first visit to UNB. “I felt tonight we really brought the game we needed to give ourselves a chance to win. All the boys battled  hard and were willing to do whatever it took to win and that mindset is critical going into a game against a previously undefeated competitor”.

Asked whether the team was rattled after the opening goal – 20 seconds into the first period, Heelis noted the importance of remaining focused. “In a 60 minute hockey game when an event like UNB’s early goal and an early penalty take place, you definitely face some adversity. We couldn’t dwell on the event and shut down. We needed to respond and push back. I felt we did just that, stuck to the game plan, got a big penalty kill and started battling our way back. All the boys knew we were in for a battle tonight”.

The Axemen will focus on tomorrow’s second of two weekend games, this time matched up against the fourth place Moncton Aigles Bleus. Heelis is aware of the caliber of hockey the Aigles Blues play. “We face a strong Moncton team tomorrow. We need the same effort and hard work we brought tonight. It’s a quick turn-around. We will enjoy tonight’s win, then it’s back to work tomorrow morning to focus on the game at hand”.

Acadia improves to 7-1-0, while the Varsity Reds hold onto first place with a 7-0-1 record – one point ahead of the trailing Axemen in the AUS standings. The win extends Acadia’s winning streak to six games and Acadia’s Liam Heelis retains his status as the AUS leading scorer with 12 points including eight goals. Goaltender Evan Mosher captures his sixth win of the season by stopping 29 shots.