Game 1 & 2 AUS Semi Final Wrap-Up

Acadia Takes 2-0 Series Over Moncton On Home Ice

hockey_axemanNever say die.

That seems to be the theme of the 2013-14 AUS playoffs for the Acadia Axemen.  The Axemen, after receiving a pass into the AUS conference semi-finals, drew the Aigles Bleus of Moncton University.  The Axemen finished the CIS rankings at #3, while Moncton finished at the #10 rank.  It was a much anticipated matchup, with the first two games at Acadia Arena in Wolfville.  When the dust settled, Acadia had taken a 2-0 series lead in the best of five series with a 5-2 win in Game 1 on February 26, and a 6-5 double overtime win in Game 2 on February 27.

In Game 1, the Aigles Bleus scored less than a minute into the game and took the play to the Axemen in the first period.  But they ran into a wall in Axemen goaltender Evan Mosher.  In what would be one of his finest games in an Acadia jersey, Mosher held his team in the game, making several acrobatic saves throughout the contest, until his teammates could seize control.

And they did.  The Axemen recovered from the early Moncton goal to build a 3-1 lead, and despite Moncton closing the gap to 3-2 late in the second, they couldn’t solve Mosher again, and Acadia rewarded their netminder’s work by building a 5-2 and locking it down in the third.  Mosher finished the game with 27 saves, many of them the eye-popping kind, while his counterpart in the Moncton goal, Adrien Lemay, did his part.  He stopped 30 shots, but couldn’t stop the Axemen tide all on his own.

Liam Heelis led the way for Acadia with a goal and three assists.  Leo Jenner, Mike Cazzola, Brett Thompson, and Dustin Ekelman all added singles.  Pierre Durepos and Christopher Guay replied for Moncton.

With a Game 1 victory in hand, attention shifted to Game 2.  The arena was buzzing as the puck dropped to start the game, and the script seemed eerily similar, as Moncton struck first.  This is where the script deviated from the first game.  The crowd watched, stunned, as Moncton built up a 4-0 lead over the first period and a half.  The magic that Evan Mosher had in Game 1 appeared to have shifted to Adrien Lemay, as he was forced into several saves to keep the momentum in Moncton’s favor.  Mosher wasn’t as sharp in the first two periods, and Moncton took full advantage of that.  Mosher’s unusually subpar play and some bad defensive decisions left the Axemen in a 4-0 hole before they knew what happened.  When Liam Heelis scored with less than two minutes to play in the second, it seemed as though it was an afterthought.

The third started with a bit of hope as Travis Randell beat Lemay while Acadia was killing a penalty.  But less than a minute later, Moncton struck on the same power play, opening up a 5-2 lead in the third.  The crowd started to file out, convinced Acadia would have to settle for a split on home ice.

They should have stayed.

With less than ten minutes to play, Acadia struck again, with Michael Clarke depositing the puck in the Moncton goal.  While the goal was being announced, Liam Heelis struck again 28 seconds later, narrowing the seemingly insurmountable Moncton lead to just one goal.  Less than three minutes later, Heelis completed his hat trick, tying the game 5-5 and sparking a major buzz in the rink among the remaining fans.

The two teams went into overtime.  This time, some Mosher magic reappeared, as he made several game-saving saves, including one incredible glove save.  The first overtime solved nothing, and the two teams prepared for a second overtime period.

In the second overtime, halfway through, the puck found its way onto the stick of Acadia defenseman Christopher Owens, and he wristed a shot towards the Moncton goal through a screen.  Before a startled Lemay could react, the shot found the top corner, completing the incredible comeback and propelling the Axemen to a 2-0 series lead that only an hour before would have seemed impossible.

Liam Heelis, Brett Thompson, and Mike Cazzola led the way, the trio notching nine points between the three of them…Heelis with three goals, and Thompson and Cazzola each with three assists.  Travis Randell, Michael Clarke, and Christopher Owens all scored singles in the Axemen cause.  After a shaky start to his game, Mosher ended the night with 38 saves on 43 shots.

Alex Noel, Alex Saulnier, Alex Emond, Pierre Durepos, and Samuel Groulx all replied for Moncton.  Lemay made 36 saves on 42 shots.

Game 3 shifts to Moncton Saturday evening, with Moncton facing elimination on home ice.  All the momentum has swung in Acadia’s favor, but as this series has proven thus far, no lead is safe.

You can catch all the action on, as well as follow along on Twitter with @axemenhockey and @OpeningFaceoff.  Game time is 7:00pm.