Huskies edge Axemen in high scoring exhibition game
Southam nets 2 for Acadia in loss
HALIFAX, NS — The Saint Mary’s Huskies got goals from six different players and new goaltender Matthew Welsh (Halifax, NS) made 22 saves in his AUS debut to knock off the high-powered Acadia Axemen 6-4 in exhibition play at the Dauphinee Centre on Friday night.
It was the first game that either team had played in nearly a full calendar year – as the AUS season was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The recent alleviation of some restrictions by the Nova Scotia government afforded Saint Mary’s the opportunity to host this exhibition – which felt like anything but.
The first period saw a mostly choppy affair as both teams attempted work off the 11 months of “rink rust” and get adjusted to playing at higher pace. After an extended stretch of scoreless play – which saw SMU kill off a penalty – Keith Getson (Bridgewater, NS) took a cross-seam pass from new captain Alexander Peters (Blyth, ONT) and one-timed a shot over the trapper of Acadia netminder Logan Flodell (Regina, SK) to break the deadlock. Huskies newcomer Cedric Ralph (Peterborough, ONT) also drew a secondary assist on the goal.
Late in the frame, the Huskies would take another penalty, and on the ensuing penalty kill, SMU goaltender Matthew Welsh had to stand tall and make two or three sensational saves in tight to maintain the Huskies lead.
The second stanza was an offensive tug-of-war as both teams traded scoring opportunities and goals. Acadia drew even early in the period after a fabulous passing play which saw Mason McCarty (Blackie, Alta) feed Johnny Corneil (Lindsay, ONT) who converted to make it 1-1. Shortly thereafter, Saint Mary’s took a delay of game penalty which enabled the Axemen to take the lead off a deft tip-in by Rodney Southam (Saskatoon, SK) to make it 2-1 visitors.
The Huskies then had a golden opportunity to knot it up with two Axemen in the box – but failed to convert. However, not long after the penalties expired, SMU would strike on a nice cross-crease feed from Bradey Johnson (Lindsay, ONT) to Logan DeNoble (Peterborough, ONT) to square things at two.
Last season’s Rookie of the Year – and SMU’s leading scorer – Mitchell Balmas (Sydney, NS) got a fortunate bounce as his cross-crease feed for Cedric Ralph (Peterborough, ONT) hit a skate and slid by Flodell’s pad to make it 3-2 Huskies.
However, just nine seconds later – off of the ensuing faceoff – Acadia would draw even when Rodney Southam would score his second of the frame into an empty cage after Matthew Welsh was caught out of position after a great bit of patience by Eric Henderson (Kingsville, ONT) who then dished out front to an open Southam.
Tied at three going into the third period, the Huskies attempted to apply the pressure to the Axemen – which resulted in several Acadia icings in the early going of the closing 20. Eventually, the pressure paid dividends as defenceman Walter Flower (Lunenburg, NS) hammered a shot from the point and forward Jake Durham (Port Perry, ONT) poked home the loose change to put the Huskies up 4-3.
About six minutes later, the Huskies would take their first two goal lead of the game when Joel Bishop (St. John’s, NFLD) picked off an errant Acadia pass and went in all alone on Flodell – and deked out the netminder for a highlight-reel goal.
Just 26 seconds later, the Axemen would close the deficit to one when Cristiano Digiacinto (Hamilton, ONT) caught Welsh out of position and tucked home a wrap-around to make it 5-4.
But that’s as close as the Axemen would get on this night – as Cedric Ralph directed in a cross-seam pass from Getson to make it 6-4 with less than five minutes left in regulation.
Courtesy of Drew McConnell, SMU Communications