The UNB Varsity Reds have taken a two-game lead over the StFX X in the 2015 Subway AUS semi-final, winning tonight's game 2-1.
It was no surprise that play started tight, with both sides battling hard to get an edge and minimize errors in a pressure-laden second game of the best-of-five series.
It was obvious from the first minute that this was going to be a close-checking game. The first period ended scoreless and with only around half the number of shots on goal as yesterday's match-up.
The second period started out tight as well. StFX had a great chance at 5:18 when Kris Kontos (Penetanguishene, ON) came flying in at V-Reds goalie David Shantz (Hamilton, ON) who made a great save to keep the game at zero.
Taylor MacDougall nearly stretched the lead to two for the Varsity Reds with a great break-out chance at 15:24, but he couldn't corral the puck and it bounced over the net.
The pace quickened and the ice started to open up in the last four minutes of the second period, as both teams seemed intent on scoring before time ran out, but although the intensity was high, the period would end a 1-nothing game.
The third period started with the crowd on eggshells and a chill in the air that this was still anyone's game. And indeed it was, as StFX got on the board around six minutes in. Ted Stephens (Whitehorse, YT) picked up a shot through traffic to tie it up just five seconds after a UNB penalty came to an end. Assists went to Jagger Dirk (Penticton, BC) and Jarrad Struthers (Glace Bay, NS).
The third period drew to a close with StFX pullling the goalie and a frantic last minute. But although the X-Men came breathtakingly close, they couldn't finish it off and the Varsity Reds would take the game 2-1 and with that a 2-0 lead in the series.
"It's anyone's game out there once you get to this level and especially in this conference, and you add to that the high stakes of playoffs and every moment counts," UNB head coach Gardiner MacDougall said after the game.
"I think we really went out there and tried to make every minute count and be strong the whole game, and I think we really showed that we're here to always get better every time we step on the ice. And I think we've done that so far here."
Subway Player of the Game went to UNB's Cam Brace.
The semi-final series will now move to Antigonish, where the X-Men will host the Varsity Reds for Game 3 on Sunday, February 22, at 7pm.
Photo courtesy of Brian Smith.