By John DeCoste
Three wins last week had the Acadia hockey Axemen alone in first place in the conference standings at the first of the week.
Acadia did what they had to do in their games, edging Dalhousie 4-3 in overtime Wednesday, then sweeping a home-and-home series from St. F.X., winning 4-3 at home Friday and 1-0 Sunday in Antigonish.
The results left the Axemen atop the conference standings with a 15-6-1 record for 31 points, one ahead of UNB and Moncton.
On Friday, Michael Ward’s power-play goal at 9:36 of the third period stood up as the game-winner.
The Axemen opened the scoring on Jonathan Laberge’s seventh goal of the season (his fifth since Christmas), a power-play marker at 2:05 of the first period.
Scott Brannon tied the score for St. F.X, with his first of two goals on the evening, a power-play marker at 7:50. But before the period was out, K.C. Brown restored the Axemen lead with his second of the season at 15:04.
Less than two minutes later, at 17:59, Liam Heelis netted his seventh of the season on the power play for a 3-1 Acadia lead after one period.
St. F.X. bounced back in the second period with a pair of goals to tie the score.
That was all the scoring until Laberge and Andrew Clark set up Ward’s power-play winner. Clark, the conference’s scoring leader (13-22-35), assisted on all four Axemen goals.
Acadia outshot St. F.X. 37-28, including a 17-10 edge in the first period and a 12-8 advantage in the third. Special teams were also a factor, with the Axemen scoring three power-play goals and the X-Men two.
On Sunday, the Axemen entered the game knowing that with a win, they could take over sole possession of first place in the standings, with UNB having lost twice for a second straight weekend.
In a close game, Andrew Clark scored what would be the only goal, an even-strength marker at 10:38 of the second period on assists from Heelis and Ward.
Goalie Evan Mosher did the rest, especially in the third period turning aside all 23 shots he faced for the second shutout of his rookie season with the Axemen.
Acadia, which won its fourth straight game (and sixth of seven since the start of the second half) with just 15 skaters, managed 22 shots on St. F.X. goalie Joseph Perricone.
Acadia is back on the road this coming weekend for what should be a tough road trip, with games Friday at UNB and Saturday at UPEI sure to be a test of the team’s character.