By John DeCoste
The Saint Mary’s Huskies were one win away from a berth in the AUHC final following a 3-2 win over Acadia Saturday evening in Wolfville.
Cory Tanaka’s even-strength goal at 4:36 of the third period stood up as the game-winner as the Huskies took a 2-1 lead in the best of five series.
The game was scoreless until Patrick O’Keefe scored a power play goal for Saint Mary’s at 18:27 of the first period on the Huskies’ third power play. Before the first period was over, the Axemen tied the score, also on the power play, when Andrew Clark’s accurate shot along the ice eluded Anthony Peters.
In the second period, Acadia struck again on the power play, Dustin Ekelman converting a nice set-up from Alex Beaton at 4:10.
The Acadia lead lasted five minutes, until 9:25 when Ryan Gottschalk scored an even-strength goal to tie the score.
The Axemen ended up with a 43-30 edge in shots and missed a number of good chances, including hitting three goalposts and a crossbar. Acadia had two power play goals and Saint Mary’s one.
Game four, with the Axemen facing elimination, goes Sunday evening at 7 p.m., also at Acadia Arena.
In game two Thursday in Halifax, Saint Mary’s tied the series at a game apiece with a 4-2 win. After a scoreless first period, the Huskies had a 3-1 edge in the second. The teams then traded goals in the third period to account for the final margin.
Gerrad Grant opened the scoring for SMU at 3:08 of the second period, intercepting a poor clearing attempt by Evan Mosher and putting it into an empty net.
Dylan Anderson got the Axemen on the board when he converted a penalty shot at 6:41 after being hauled down on a breakaway, but 25 seconds later at 7:06, Stephen Johnston restored the Saint Mary's lead.
Just 47 seconds after that at 7:53, Shawn O'Donnell converted a setup by Matt Tipoff to increase the Huskies' lead to 3-1, which was the score at the end of two periods.
Travis Randell added an even-strength marker at 3:24 of the third, but Gottschalk rounded out the scoring with an even-strength goal at 12:09. Mosher stopped 26 of 30 shots, while Anthony Peters turned aside 23 of 25 shots in the Huskies' goal.
In game one Wednesday in Halifax, Mike Cazzola was the hero for the second game in a row, scoring at 5:19 of overtime for a 3-2 Axemen win and a 1-0 series lead.
Cazzola and Liam Heelis assisted on linemate Brett Thompson’s goal that opened the scoring at 8:16 of the first period.
Matt Tipoff netted his first of two goal on the evening to tie the score 1-1 at 14:19 of the first period, but before the period was out, Spencer Jezegou scored on a breakaway to give Acadia back the lead.
That was all the scoring there was until Chris MacKinnon scored at the nine-minute mark of the third period to tie the score 2-2 and force overtime.
Saint Mary’s had a 41-34 edge in shots on goal, outshooting the Axemen in all three periods of regulation time. Cazzola’s game-winner came on Acadia’s fourth shot of the overtime period.