Antigonish, NS – The U SPORTS No. 4 ranked StFX X-Men picked up their second win of the weekend with a decisive 6-1 victory over the UPEI Panthers Saturday night at the Charles V. Keating Centre.
Third year forward Michael Clarke (London, ON) scored a hat trick in the game for the X-Men.
StFX took a 2-0 lead after 20 minutes of play. Their first goal came just over halfway through the period when Adam Stevens (Bedford, NS) took a shot on net which was blocked by UPEI's Sam Aulie (Lumsden, SK). Kristoff Kontos (Penetanguishene, ON) then found the puck in front and got it past Panthers goaltender Matt Mahalak (Monroe, MI). Also credited with an assist was Santino Centorame (Mississauga, ON).
Clarke scored his first of three markers off a play from Holden Cook (Oshawa, ON) and Mark Tremaine (Dartmouth, NS) late in the first period. Tremaine, from the corner, threw the puck out front to Cook who passed to Clarke, cementing what would turn out to be the game winning goal.
UPEI added their only goal of the contest early in the second period. RT Rice (Invermere, BC) took the initial shot on goal which went just wide, allowing Gabe Guertler (Plantation, FL) to score on the wrap-around, solving X-Men goaltender Chase Marchand (Halifax, NS).
StFX answered with their third goal less than a minute later. Cook lead the breakout from the X-Men zone and passed to Matt Needham (Penticton, BC) who worked the puck ahead and passed cross-ice to Anthony Difruscia (Thorold, ON). Difruscia centered the puck for Needham who tipped it on net.
Clarke increased the X-Men lead to 4-1 with a power play goal at the 8:32 mark of the second period, tipping in a Jagger Dirk (Penticton, BC) shot from the point, and going top shelf on Mahalak. Cook picked up his third helper of the night on the play.
The X-Men outshot the Panthers 29-20 through 40 minutes, taking the 4-1 lead into the second intermission.
Despite starting the third period with a 5-on-3 power play, StFX's fifth goal didn't come until 15:35 into the third frame. Needham passed to Nathan Pancel (Ottawa, ON) who set up X-Men captain Craig Duininck (St. Cloud, MN) for a quick one-timer, making no mistake as he hit the open side of the Panthers goal.
After a melee that saw several players from both sides ejected from the game for game misconduct penalties, the X-Men scored their final goal of the evening with just 1:11 remaining in regulation play. Clarke earned the hat trick on a pass from Needham who was racing up the side. Cole MacDonald (Wetaskiwin, AB) was also given an assist on the goal.
Total shots in the game favoured StFX 42-29 as Marchand picked up the win in the StFX net. The Panthers were 0-for-4 on the power play, while the X-Men went 2-for-4. A total of 92 penalty minutes were assessed between the two teams.
His three-goal performance secured Subway Player of the Game and first star honours for Michael Clarke. Holden Cook was the second star with UPEI's Gabe Guertler being named third star.
The X-Men are on the road for their next game, visiting Saint Mary's University in Halifax on Wednesday evening, November 27th. The Panthers will host Moncton on the same night. Both games are on scheduled for 7:00 pm.
Courtesy Kiana Pace, StFX Athletics sports information