Four-goal second period propels X-Men to win over Panthers

Four-goal second period propels X-Men to win over Panthers

By Thomas Becker

St. FX forward Regan Spears sparked a four-goal second period en route to 5-1 win over the UPEI Panthers.

Spears scored twice and assisted on another goal in the decisive frame, while teammates Cole MacDonald, Matthew Graham and William Bower also connected on goals. 

With both teams having already clinched playoff berths, Tuesday night's game began the battle for positioning and the X-Men (12-9-3) got off to a good start. 

"We just wanted to bounce back from last week," said Spears, who was named the Subway Player of the Game. "We weren't too happy with our effort against Acadia and we just wanted to keep things simple tonight – get on the puck and move it down low a lot – and it worked for us."

Before St. FX's onslaught, it was the Panthers (11-10-3) who set the tone early and looked like the better team. The home team held the X-Men to just six shots on goal and made them work for everything they got. 

Offensively they were limited to eight shots themselves, but capitalized on one of them at 10:09 when Cody Payne buried home a rebound after Filip Rydstrom attacked the net.

Two minutes later, Simon Hofley made a beautiful pad save on Graham's shot from the low slot to keep the Panthers ahead.

After a UPEI forward fanned on the open cage early in the second, the X-Men took full advantage and went to work. 

Six minutes into the frame, Spears tied the game on a wrister from inside the left circle. 

At 8:15, MacDonald laced a shot from the blue line that beat Hofley for the power play marker, as they pulled ahead 2-1. Spears then deposited his second of the game just two and a half minutes later, when he wristed a shot from a tough angle. 

With less than two minutes remaining, Spears came in from the right, centered the puck to the charging Graham, who chipped in the easy goal – their fourth of the period.

"I just kept it simple, moved my feet and tried to play a big man's game," Spears said of his performance.

It was special moment for the rookie, Bower, seven minutes into the third when he recorded his first AUS goal of his young career, as his X-Men took the game 5-1.

After letting in that first-period goal, rookie netminder Blade Mann-Dixon settled in and made 22 saves for his fifth win of the campaign. 

The Panthers look to avenge their loss on Jan. 25 when they travel to Antigonish to take on these same X-Men.

Photo Credit: Janessa Hogan