By John DeCoste
A pair of losses to start the second half have dropped the Acadia hockey Axemen from first place to third in the AUHC standings.
The Axemen lost Jan. 3 at UNB and Jan. 4 at UPEI, both by 4-2 scores, falling to 12-5-1 on the season, three points behind UNB (14-4 after a pair of weekend wins) and two behind Saint Mary’s (13-4-1), which also won both its weekend games.
On Jan. 3 in Fredericton, the Axemen, with both Chris Owens and Spencer Jezegou back in the lineup, took a 2-1 lead over UNB after one period, with all three goals coming on the power play.
Nick MacNeil opened the scoring at 7:26, but Mike Cazzola replied at 13:24 and Liam Heelis at 18:05. Jonathan Laberge assisted on both Acadia goals, and Owens, in his first game since suffering a concussion Nov. 30, also earned an assist.
Cam Critchlow’s goal at 12:53 of the second period – the only goal of the period, and the lone even-strength goal of the game – pulled UNB into a 2-2 tie after 40 minutes.
In the third period, a shorthanded goal from Tyler Carroll at 6:42 would stand up as the game-winner. MacNeil added a shorthanded marker - his second goal of the game - at 19:23, with Evan Mosher on the bench for an extra skater.
UNB had a 32-23 edge in shots on goal. The Axemen had two power play goals to one for the V-Reds, who also had the two shorthanded markers.
After spending the night in Moncton, it was on to Charlottetown for the Axemen for a Jan. 4 match-up with the Panthers.
As had been the case the night before, the home team again opened the scoring, with UPEI’s Tyler Brown putting the puck behind Peter Di Salvo 6:34 into the game.
A little over two minutes later, at 8:58, Andrew Clark’s first of two goals on the night opened the scoring for Acadia.
Clark then gave the Axemen a 2-1 lead with a power play goal at 8:22 of the second. A little over a minute later, Harrison McIver tied the score at two with a shorthanded goal, the third allowed by the Axemen in their two weekend games.
Before the second period was over, Jordan Mayer had notched the eventual game-winner at 16:19. McIver added his second goal of the game, the only goal of the third period, at 6:07 to round out the scoring.
Owens had his second assist in as many games, giving him 21 points on the season. UPEI ended up with a narrow 28-25 edge in shots on goal; the Axemen had the game’s only power play goal.
Acadia returned to the road Jan. 11-12 for games in Moncton and Fredericton against St. Thomas. The Axemen next play at home Jan. 16, a fairly rare midweek game against St. F.X.