X-Men top Axemen 3-2 in first game in 80 days

Corneil and Stevenson with the Acadia tallies

WOLFVILLE, N.S. – AUS hockey was back in Wolfville for the first time since November 26, 2021, and in front of fans no less, on Saturday night. Sadly, the Axemen were unable to capitalize on their early lead in the game and ended up falling 3-2 to the StFX X-Men.

It was a strong night for the goalies, as Max Paddock stopped 25 of 28 shots for Acadia while his StFX counterpart and Subway Third Star of the Game Joseph Raaymakers turned aside 27 of 29 shots.

Despite chances from both sides – including a strong power-play from the Axemen and a partial breakaway from X-Men forward Matthew Phillip – the game remained scoreless heading into the second frame with Acadia holding a 14-8 lead in shots.

It was another strong showing for the goaltenders in the second period, as they turned aside a number of chances. However, both teams managed to get one on the board before the end of the period.

Acadia broke onto the scoreboard first with a marker from the Subway Second Star of the Game Johnny Corneil with 6:46 left in the frame.

Corneil stepped into the slot, took a pass from Keegan Stevenson, and wired a wrist shot into the top right corner of the net to make it 1-0.

“It was a battle for the whole 60 minutes and both teams had about two and a half months to get ready for this game. Lots of time off and both teams were itching to get back on the ice in a game atmosphere,” noted Corneil after the game.

“We’ve been talking a lot about detail and structure for the last two weeks, and attention to detail was a big part of it but also work ethic,” said Corneil. “That was my main focus and kinda relaying that to some of the younger guys as well.”

StFX responded late in the second with a deflection goal in front of the net from William Bower.

Bower notched his goal by nabbing a rebound off the Axemen goalie and then tapping the puck out of the air to tie the game at 1-1.

At the end of the second, Acadia held a 22-17 shot lead.

Acadia dug themselves a hole in the third by giving StFX nearly six straight minutes of power-play time in the second half of the final frame.

While the Axemen were able to keep their opponents off the scoreboard during the first four-minute power-play, the X-Men grabbed their first lead of the game with 7:37 left in the game.

StFX finished a 2-on-1 passing play with Santino Centroame in front of the net to make it 2-1.

The X-Men put the final nail in the coffin with 1:39 to play, as the Subway First Star of the Game Ethan Crossman picked up his own rebound off an Acadia defender and nipped a wrist shot into the top corner to make it 3-1.

Stevenson made things interesting for the Axemen by notching a power-play marker in the final seconds of the game to make it 3-2, but it was too late to mount a comeback.

Acadia returns to play on Friday, Feb. 25 against the UNB Varsity Reds while the X-Men visit Dalhousie this coming Wednesday night. The puck drop is at 7 pm for both games.