Antigonish, NS – The StFX X-Men defeated the UPEI Panthers 5-1 Friday evening at the Charles V. Keating Centre. The game marked the second consecutive win over the same Panthers squad, and by the same 5-1 score as the X-Men also won in Charlottetown Tuesday evening.
StFX got on the board first with a goal off the stick of defenseman Aaron Hoyles (Gander, NL) just over five minutes into the first period. He wired a shot through traffic from inside the blue line past Panthers goaltender Matthew Mancina (Windsor, ON). Mark Tremaine (Dartmouth, NS) and Holden Cook (Whitby, ON) assisted. The goal was the first one of Hoyles AUS career.
The StFX top line of Tremaine, Cook and Matt Needham (Pentincton, BC) was hot early on with a couple scoring chances. Adam Stevens (Bedford, NS) also had a one-timer from the slot, but Mancina was up for the save.
The Panthers best opportunity early on came off a quick shot from a streaking Cody Payne (Davie, FL), but freshman StFX netminder Blade Mann-Dixon (Antigonish, NS) came up with a key pad save to keep the X lead intact.
Defenseman Doug Blaisdell (Deerborn Heights, MI) nearly tied the game with five minutes left in the period as he blasted a shot from the point that Mann-Dixon stopped.
The X-Men held onto the 1-0 lead after 20 minutes despite the visiting Panthers edging them 9-7 in shots.
The home team went up 2-0 on a power play goal 4:08 into the second period from veteran forward Stevens. He took a cross ice pass from Cole MacDonald (Wetaskawin, AB) and wristed a shot from the top of the face-off circle that beat Mancina on the short side. Cook also had a helper on the play.
The X-Men held off the Panthers for the remainder of the period to keep the 2-0 lead after 40 minutes. The Panthers had a late power play opportunity to conclude the middle frame but could not capitalize.
Shots favored UPEI 10-7 in the second period.
The third period saw the game develop into more chippy play with increased time in the penalty box for both teams. The X-Men made the Panthers pay as they capitalized on back-to-back power play goals scored 48 seconds apart after UPEI was assessed a double minor.
At the 11:28 mark, Cook connected with MacDonald to give the X-Men a 3-0 lead. His pass across the top of the slot was blasted home on a high shot by MacDonald that beat Mancina.
The X-Men then followed up with another power play goal, this time from Sam Studnicka (Windsor, ON) as a rebound came right to his stick off an Adam Holwell (St. John's, NL) shot that was quickly deposited past a helpless Mancina who didn't have a chance on the open side of the net. Bryson Cianfrone (Stoney Creek, ON) also assisted.
The Panthers finally hit the scoresheet with 2:07 remaining in the game. Owen Headrick (Garden River, ON) blasted a shot from the point off an Olivier Arseneau (Tracadie, NB) pass that beat Mann-Dixon in the StFX net. Filip Rydstrom (Stockholm, SWE) picked up the second assist on the goal.
UPEI pulled Mancina from the net with 1:05 left to play but it was all for naught as Difruscia scored an empty netter for the X-Men to seal the win.
Mann-Dixon picked up his sixth win of the season with 22 saves on the night for the X-Men, despite being outshot 30-23. He was also named the third star of the game.
Stevens picked up second star honours, and Hoyles was the first star and Subway player of the game.
The X-Men were playing without several regulars in the line-up due to injuries and had only three active lines. Forwards Nathan Pancel (Ottawa, ON), Adam Laishram (Ashburn, ON), and Matthew Graham (Bedford, NS) were all out, along with defenseman Santino Centorame (Mississauga, ON) and goaltender Chase Marchand (Halifax, NS).
StFX improves to 12-9-3 and will be back on the ice Saturday night as they host the first place UNB Reds (21-1-3). UPEI drops to 11-10-3 after consecutive losses to the X-Men. They will travel to Halifax Saturday night to take on Dalhousie (6-19-0).
Courtesy Krista McKenna, StFX Sports Information