By John DeCoste
Lose a game, run the risk of dropping a spot in the standings. That’s life in the ultra-competitive Atlantic Universities Hockey Conference.
The Acadia hockey Axemen hosted Dalhousie and Saint Mary’s Nov. 23-24. The Axemen got the weekend off to a good start with a 4-1 win over the Tigers, then lost 3-2 to the Huskies in a shootout Saturday.
The win improved Acadia’s record to 10-3; the shootout loss, despite earning the Axemen a point, was enough to drop them into second place, one point behind UNB.
On Nov. 23, rookie Brett Thompson opened the scoring with his team-high seventh goal of the season at 4:57 of the first period. The lead held up until Dal tied the score on a goal by captain Benjamin Breault just 28 seconds into the second period.
The Axemen then struck for two goals in 24 seconds late in the period for a 3-1 lead. Liam Heelis made it 2-1 at 18:01, then Dustin Ekelman converted a breakaway opportunity at 18:25.
Chris Owens’ power play goal at 1:17 of the third period rounded out the scoring.
The goal, Owens’ sixth of the season, gave the defenseman a four-point night; he had previously drawn assists on the goals by Thompson, Heelis and Ekelman.
It also gave Owens a team-high 19 points on the season, good for a strong second in the AUHC scoring race.
Acadia had the edge in shots in all three periods, and ended up with a 41-24 edge overall.
On Nov. 24, Stephen Johnston and Matt Tipoff both scored in the shootout, with Tipoff’s goal credited as the game winner, after the teams played through regulation time and overtime tied 2-2.
Alex Beaton staked Acadia to a 1-0 lead with his second goal of the season, a power play marker at 7:38 of the first period.
The Huskies replied with a power play goal of their own, by conference scoring leader Lucas Bloodoff at 13:50 of the second period.
Spencer Jezegou gave Acadia a 2-1 lead with his first goal of the season at 8:20 of the third, only to see Patrick O’Keefe tie the score again just 31 seconds later. That was all the scoring there would be until Saint Mary’s tallied twice in the shootout.
The game featured close checking and a strong defensive effort by both teams, and even though there were plenty of shots on goal (47 by the Axemen, 46 by the Huskies), good scoring chances were few.
The 10-3-1 Axemen, who started the weekend ranked #3 in the country, close out the pre-Christmas portion of their schedule with a pair of important home games this weekend, hosting UPEI at 7 p.m. Friday and UNB at 7 p.m. Saturday.