(ANTIGONISH, NS) On the strength of four goals from sophomore forward Holden Cook(Oshawa, ON), including the overtime winner, the St. FX X-Men skated to a 5-4 victory over the visiting UNB Varsity Reds on Saturday night, in a battle of the top teams in U Sports hockey.
On the deciding goal, just 55 seconds into the extra time, Cook walked off the side boards and roofed a wrist shot over the glove of UNB goaltender Etienne Marcoux(Terrebonne, QC).
In a back-and-forth battle of long-time rivals, no team led by more than one goal.
In the opening minutes of the first period, the X-Men enjoyed a 5-on-3 power play, for 90 seconds, but the home side came up empty. The best scoring opportunities came in a bang-bang sequence, but Marcoux steered aside three shots.
Shortly after the Varsity Reds returned to even strength, they opened the scoring. At 5:23, off a nifty pass from Philippe Maillet(Terrebonne, QC), Rob Mignardi(Richmond Hill, ON) made it 1-0. X-Men goaltender Chase Marchand(Halifax, NS) got his left shoulder on the hard shot, but he could not keep it out of the back of the net.
At 11:26, Eric Locke(Toronto, ON) engineered the tying goal. After winning a battle for the puck, just outside his own blue line, Locke led a two-on-one, before feeding Cook, who roofed a shot over Marcoux.
At 13:37, the Varsity Reds regained their lead, with Philippe Halley(Quebec City, QC) the marksman. Matt Boudens(Pembroke, ON), from behind the net, found Halley in the slot for a one-timer along the ice that beat Marchand.
Cook completed the natural hat-trick with the only two goals of the second period, giving the X-Men a 3-2 edge, after 40 minutes.
At 3:29 of the third period, UNB defenseman Marcus McIvor(Whitby, ON) put the Varsity Reds on even terms, when his point shot floated through a screen and past Marchand.
Six minutes later, the X-Men regained the lead. Cook connecting with Locke, who scored his first of the game.
Less than two minutes later, at 11:13, Maillet scored on the power play. Maillet made a great rush over the blue line, before beating Marchand stick side.
Marchand made 28 saves for the win, while Marcoux turned aside 13 shots in the loss.
Cook, with his five-point night, earned first star and Subway Player of the Game honours, while Locke and Halley garnered second and third star selections, respectively.
Both teams will return to action on Friday, Oct. 28, when the X-Men travel to Charlottetown to face the UPEI Panthers, while the Varsity Reds host Dalhousie, for a 7:00PM face-off at the Aitken Centre.
The following night, at the same time, the X-Men and Varsity Reds meet again… this time, in Fredericton.
RECAP BY: St. FX Athletics