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Hockey Axemen split weekend with overtime loss to U SPORTS number-two ranked UNB


WOLFVILLE, NS -  The U SPORTS number-seven ranked Acadia Axemen (11-5-2) ended the first half of their season on a sour note, losing 3-2 in overtime to the number-two UNB Varsity Reds (15-0-3).

Acadia held the lead twice in the game but the league's best V-Reds answered back each time.

The Axemen head into the holiday break with fourth place in the AUS standings.

The first period was dominated by the Axemen, as they outshot UNB 12-7 and took a 1-0 lead into the second frame. 

Axemen forward Boston Leier scored at 6:07 in the opening period when he picked up the puck off the back boards and fired it past UNB's goalie Alex Dubeau to ignite the home crowd.

UNB responded with a strong second period, where they dominated most of the play and outscored the Axemen 2-1 in the period to tie the game 2-2 heading into the final frame. 

The Varsity Reds tied the game a little over three minutes into the second period, when UNB forward Stephen Anderson scored on a wrist shot in tight of the Axemen net.

Acadia regained the lead 10 seconds later when Axemen forward Kyle Farrell scored high blocker on a breakaway.

UNB tied the game again late in the period, with a power-play marker from defenseman Olivier LeBlanc.

Although both teams had their chances in the third, neither was able to break the tie and so the game headed to OT.

UNB defenseman and Subway First Star of the Game, Matt Murphy scored 16 seconds into OT to end the game.

A dejected Axemen squad was well represented by captain Liam Maaskant's thoughts following the game.

"In the first period, we just wanted to get shots on net. I think we had a great first period, we came out hard. The second period is when they got their chances and took advantage. In the third period, we definitely battled back and we had twenty guys in the room who bought in for the third period,” Maaskant said. “We played them hard and just a couple of bounces didn't go our way and as a result, we just got one point.”

Axemen goaltender Robert Steeves stopped 29 of 32 shots on the night, while his UNB counterpart Dubeau turned aside 21 of 23.

Acadia was unable to make use of their power-play, going 0-for-6 on the night, while the Varsity Reds were not much better at 1-for-6.

The Axemen defeated the UPEI Panthers 6-3 in the first of two home games this weekend before the Christmas break. Axemen forward and Subway First Star of the Game Boston Leier scored two goals on the night to help the Axemen secure the win.

Acadia was strong offensively in the first and held a 3-0 lead heading into the second period.

Axemen forward and Third Star of the Game, Chance Braid, opened the scoring, lifting the puck past the left shoulder of the Panthers' goalie Matt Mahalak, knocking the water bottle off the top of the net in the process.

Adding to their lead, Axemen forward Boston Leier scored a power-play marker late in the period.

Leier added another goal with 1.6 seconds remaining in the opening period, with a wrist shot over the left shoulder of the UPEI goalie to give the Axemen a 3-0 lead into the locker room. 

"We wanted to come out strong and we didn't necessarily execute the game plan. We took a couple early penalties. It's a little harder when you are up against the ropes right off the bat, but we battled off those penalties, got a couple of goals, which is nice, and it's always good to get a good lead," commented Leier after the game.

The Panthers and Axemen each added a goal in the second to make it 4-1 heading into the final frame. 

UPEI scored on their fifth power-play of the game, off a low wrist shot from Second Star of the Game, Beau McCue.

Acadia responded with a goal in the last minute of the second from rookie forward Owen MacDonald, who was left wide open in front and made no mistake on the pass from Remy Giftopoulos.

Both teams added two goals in the third period, with both teams scoring an even-strength and power-play goal.

Ryan Foss went end-to-end with the puck and tucked it through the legs of the Panthers goalie for a highlight reel goal.

The Panthers added two late goals from forward Brent Andrews and Cody Payne.

Axemen goaltender Robert Steeves turned aside 21 of 24 shots, while Mahalak stopped 21 of 27 shots.

The Axemen will take to the ice in 2018 in Wolfville on Jan. 5 as they host the Moncton Aigles Bleus, while the Varsity Reds host Dalhousie on the same night. Puck drop for both games is 7 p.m.

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