By John DeCoste
Acadia’s hockey Axemen appear ready to take their place among the elite men’s hockey teams in the country.
Ranked third in the previous week’s CIS Top-10, the Axemen solidified their hold on at least a top-three position again by sweeping a weekend series on the road from a pair of tough conference opponents.
Acadia edged the eight-place Saint Mary’s Huskies 3-2 Nov. 9 in Halifax, then nipped the St. F.X. X-men, 2-1 Nov. 10 in Antigonish.
The sweep improved Acadia’s regular season record to 8-2, good for first place in the conference, two points up on 7-3 UNB.
Friday’s game saw the Axemen spot the hometown Huskies a 1-0 first-period lead on a power play goal by Stephen Johnston.
Acadia responded with three unanswered goals: even-strength markers by Christopher Owens and Liam Heelis in the second period and a power play goal by Dustin Ekelman early in the third, to take a 3-1 lead.
Lucas Bloodoff scored at 5:56 to narrow the margin to 3-2, but that was as close as Saint Mary’s would get. Axemen goalie Peter Di Salvo stopped 25 of 27 shots as the Huskies ended up with a 27-24 edge in shots. Each team scored once on the power play.
On Saturday, rookie Brett Thompson’s fifth goal of the season, a rocket from the faceoff circle at 12:57 of the third period, was the difference in Acadia’s 2-1 victory.
Thompson’s goal broke a 1-1 tie to that point in a close, entertaining and well-played contest.
After a scoreless opening period, Travis Gibbons opened the scoring for Acadia at 1:32 of the second. Ted Stephens tied the score for St. F.X. about five minutes later.
The Axemen doubled the X-men 28-14 in shots on goal as Acadia played a solid game defensively. The Axemen were 0-8 on the power play; St. F.X. was 0-5.
Acadia is on the road again this weekend for games at UPEI and UNB.