Huskies shutout Axemen and take 2-0 lead in best of five semifinal series
McCollum with 19 saves in loss
HALIFAX, NS – Saint Mary’s goaltender Jeremy Helvig stopped 32 shots for his first career AUS playoff shutout, as the Huskies defeated the Acadia Axemen 2-0 in game two of their best-of-five semifinal series on Friday night at the Dauphinee Centre.
“It’s huge for us,” said Helvig post-game. “It wasn’t our best game but we played solid defensively in front of me and made my night… not too hard I’ll say.”
The Axemen looked motivated to bounce back from Thursday night’s 7-1 loss in game one, as they were buzzing from the opening puck drop. Axemen forward Cole Nagy (Saskatoon, SK) generated several scoring opportunities for his team, and the Huskies were able to kill of an early Axemen powerplay. Saint Mary’s best scoring chance in the opening period came on a shot by Cedric Ralph (Peterborough, ON) and a follow up rebound by Joel Bishop (St. John’s, NL), but Axemen goaltender Conor McCollum (Pickering, ON) was able to deny the chance.
Late in the first period, Acadia had their best scoring opportunity, with a rebound landing directly on the stick of forward Keegan Stevenson (Aweres Township, ON), but Huskies goaltender Jeremy Helvig slid across his crease to make a great pad save and keep the game scoreless.
Neither team was able to open the scoring in the first 20 minutes, with the Axemen outshooting the Huskies 12-5 in the period.
The Huskies began the second period on the powerplay, but were unable to generate a quality scoring chance. When the game returned to even strength, the Axemen peppered the Huskies goal with shots, but Helvig was able to turn them all away.
The two teams continued to battle for a go-ahead goal until there was just under eight minutes remaining in the period, when the Huskies opened their account. Defenceman Dennis Busby (Oro-Medonte, ON) took a pass from teammate Jaxon Bellamy and did the rest, skating around an Axemen defender and sniping a shot through McCollum’s five-hole to put the home team up 1-0.
Both teams were credited with eight shots in the second period, and the Huskies took a 1-0 lead into the second intermission.
The Axemen continued to pressure in the third period, and thought they found their equalizer on the powerplay, when forward Zack Jones (North Falmouth, MA) appeared to have banged the puck past Helvig, but the Huskies goaltender revealed the puck was underneath him, and the officials waved it off.
“He had the open net so I just threw my body on the puck and it fell into my glove. I guess they thought it went in but it was in my glove the whole time,” said Helvig.
Acadia fired 12 shots on goal in the third period, but Helvig stopped them all, and Huskies defenceman Justin MacPherson iced the game with a long empty-net goal with just 16 seconds remaining, his second of the series securing the Saint Mary’s 2-0 victory.
The Axemen outshot the Huskies 32-21 on the night, with goaltender Jeremy Helvig turning away all 32 shots and being named Subway Player of the Game. Conor McCollum stopped 19 shots for the Axemen.
“It’s huge to get the two wins at home,” said Helvig. “Just have to finish the job on Monday and beat Acadia.”
Game three of the semifinal series will take place Monday night at the Andrew H. McCain Arena in Wolfville, NS, with puck-drop scheduled for 7 p.m.
Recap by Allan April / Saint Mary’s Huskies Athletics
Photos by Mona Ghiz / Saint Mary’s Huskies Athletics