Axemen dropped 7-1 by Huskies in Game 1 of best of 5 semifinal

Stevenson with the lone Axemen goal

HALIFAX, NS – Saint Mary’s forward Andrew Coxhead scored two powerplay goals and added an assist, as the Huskies routed the Acadia Axemen 7-1 in game one of their best-of-three semifinal series on Thursday night at the Dauphinee Centre. 

The Huskies opened the scoring midway through the first period, as a powerplay expired, forward David Bérubé (Price, QC) cut in and played a tape-to-tape pass to Dawson Theede (Brooklin, ON) who tapped it past Axemen goaltender Conor McCollum (Pickering, ON) to put the home team up 1-0. It was the first goal of the season for Theede, who was playing in his first game since Nov. 12 after recovering from an injury.  

Saint Mary’s outshot Acadia 9-7 in the first period, and took a 1-0 lead into the first intermission. 

Things opened up in the second period, and the Huskies took advantage. Just under eight minutes into the period, Huskies defenceman Justin MacPherson (East Gwillimbury, ON) fired a point shot that was directed into goal by Huskies forward Nathan Dunkley (Campbellford, ON), doubling the Huskies lead to 2-0. 

After killing off a pair of Axemen penalties, thanks to some great saves by goaltender Jeremy Helvig, the Huskies got going on a man advantage of their own with just over six minutes remaining in the period. 

Forward Keith Getson (Bridgewater, NS) attempted to set up forward Cedric Ralph (Peterborough, ON) in the slot, but the puck was deflected on to the stick of defenceman Jaxon Bellamy (Hampton, NB), who played a nice pass over to Coxhead in front, and he directed it past McCollum for the first of four powerplay goals on the night for the Huskies. 

“That was big for us, getting the confidence up on the powerplay”, said Coxhead post-game. “We hadn’t played in a while, but we’ve been practicing it quite a bit, and it’s always nice to score on the powerplay.” 

The Huskies would add another goal just over two minutes later, with Coxhead feeding Joel Bishop (St. John’s, NL), who delivered a backhand pass to a cutting Ralph, who calmly directed it into goal to extend the home team lead to 4-0. 

Just over a minute later, the Huskies were on another powerplay when MacPherson and Getson pulled off a textbook give-and-go, with MacPherson finishing it up for the fourth and final goal of the second period, putting the Huskies up 5-0. 

“That was great for us,” said MacPherson post-game. “We’ve had a couple weeks off here with the bye, so it was just important to find our legs early. We had a bit of a slow start but found our way in the second period and kind of just continued that into the third.” 

The Huskies outshot the Axemen 19-17 in the second period, and took a 5-0 lead into the intermission. The Axemen would change goaltenders heading into the third period, with Zachary Paputsakis (Rockland, ON) replacing McCollum.  

The third period saw the physicality increase, as Axemen forward Peyton Hoyt (Fredericton, NB) was given a match penalty for kneeing Huskies forward Liam Van Loon (London, ON), who was forced to leave the game and didn’t return.  

An agitated Huskies team made the Axemen pay on the ensuing powerplay, scoring twice in 32 seconds. 

First it was Coxhead’s second powerplay goal of the night, as he received a pass from Ralph and fired a shot past Paputsakis to extend the lead to 6-0. 

Just 32 seconds later, the Huskies would score their fourth and final powerplay tally of the night, as forward Charlie Dafonseca (Thornhill, ON) sneaked a shot through Paputsakis’ five-hole, extending the lead to 7-0. 

The Axemen would get one back in the final minutes, as forward Keegan Stevenson (Aweres Township, ON) scored off a rebound to cut the lead to 7-1, which would go down as the final score. 

The Huskies outshot the Axemen 39-35 on the night, with goaltender Jeremy Helvig turning away 34 shots for the win. In the Acadia goal, McCollum stopped 23 of 28 shots faced, while Paputsakis denied nine of 11 shots in relief. 

Coxhead was named Subway Player of the Game for the Huskies with two goals and one assist. Cedric Ralph (one goal, two assists), Justin MacPherson (one goal, one assist), Nathan Dunkley (one goal, one assist), Keith Getson (two assists) and David Bérubé (two assists) all recorded multipoint nights for the Huskies. 

Keegan Stevenson was named Subway Player of the Game for Acadia. 

Game two of the semifinal series will take place Friday night at the Dauphinee Centre, with puck-drop scheduled for 7 p.m. 

“I assume it’s going to be a different game tomorrow,” added Coxhead. “They’re going to want to come out hard after tonight so we’ve got to match that and play our game.” 

Recap by Allan April / Saint Mary’s Huskies Athletics
Photos by Mona Ghiz / Saint Mary’s Huskies Athletics