Harper scores OT winner, wins AUS scoring race
The Acadia Axemen (18-10-2) finished out the 2017-18 men’s hockey regular season with a matchup against the U de M Aigles Bleus on Saturday night in Moncton. After defeating USports #2 Ranked UNB last Saturday night, and #6 ranked SMU Huskies on Friday night, the Axemen had put their destiny in their own hands to earn third place in the AUS standings. All that stood in the way was a victory over the Aigles Bleus (3-25-2).
The Aigles Bleus came into the game with nothing to lose, already out of the playoff scene, and they played with their heart on their sleeve giving the Axemen all they could handle. It took extra time but the Axemen prevailed with a 3-2 overtime victory to secure the 3rd place finish in the ultra competitive AUS conference.
U de M got on the board first when Carl Marois scored at 7:19 of the opening period, putting the puck past Axemen netminder Robert Steeves, but the Axemen answered back when 4th year defenceman Matt Pufahl took a pass from Remy Giftopoulos and beat Moncton goalie Brandon Thibeau to tie the game at 1 at 10:40 of the opening period.
Acadia took a 2-1 lead in the 2nd period when Cristiano DiGiacinto scored his first goal in an Axemen uniform, after joining the team in January. Assists went to Chance Braid & Geoff Schemitsch on the goal at 5:03. But the Axemen lead was short lived as Carl Marois scored his second of the night, this time on the powerplay to tie the game at two.
That score held for the remainder of the second period and the third period, despite Acadia firing 46 shots at the U de M netminder over the first 3 period, outshooting U de M 46-26 in regulation time.
In overtime, Axemen netminder Robert Steeves made two crucial saves to keep the Axemen hopes alive; shortly after Moncton’s Vanier-Guenet took a penalty for cross-checking Axemen leading scorer Stephen Harper, and like poetic justice, Harper made him pay as he ripped home a shot at 2:47 of the overtime session to give Acadia a 3-2 victory. Assists went to Boston Leier and Matt Pufahl.
Acadia finished up the game 1 for 2 on the man advantage, while U de M went 1 for 3.
In addition to scoring the game winner, Stephen Harper locked up the AUS scoring leader title with 46 points in 30 games.
The victory sets up a best of three playoff showdown with the Dalhousie Tigers, with Game 1 taking place Wednesday in Wolfville. Game time is set for 7pm.