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X-Men stave off elimination

The StFX X-Men are still alive in their Atlantic University Sport semifinal series against the UNB Varsity Reds.

Michael Kirkpatrick’s goal 1:07 into the second period proved to the be the game winner as the X-Men edged the Varsity Reds 3-1 in game three of the best-of-five series.

UNB will take a 2-1 series lead into tonight’s game four in Antigonish. If the X-Men win that game, a deciding game five will be played on Thursday night at the Aitken Centre.

Last night, UNB, who registered 10 of their 20 shots in the third period, simply had a difficult time consistently generating offense. It wasn’t until the final 10 minutes of the game that they were able to apply a lot of pressure in the StFX zone. Even then, the Reds still had a difficult time getting pucks to the net.

Philippe Halley scored UNB’s only goal late in the first period. David Shantz made 15 saves in his first loss of the playoffs.

Kirkpatrick, Ted Stephens and Eric Locke had StFX goals while Drew Owsley made 19 saves in the win.

StFX had control for much of the first period, outshooting UNB 9-2. But the Varsity Reds survived the X-Men’s attack and managed to open the scoring at 17:19 when Halley put in a rebound.

With 51.5 seconds remaining, a nice rush by Locke generated a rebound. Stephens was on the doorstep and slid the puck past Shantz to tie the match at 1-1.

1:07 into the second period, Kirkpatrick scored to give the X-Men a 2-1 advantage.

UNB went to the power play at 3:07, but despite some good offensive pressure, the Reds were unable to tie things up.

With 4:43 left in the period, Stephens was given a four-minute penalty for high sticking, giving the Varsity Reds a great chance to tie it. Unfortunately for UNB, the X-Men produced a great penalty kill and kept the V-Reds from creating any quality scoring chances.

Thanks to the power play time, UNB outshot StFX 8-5 in the second stanza but trailed by one entering the third.

In the third, UNB went to the power play with nine minutes to play. The Varsity Reds did a good job at applying offensive pressure but were once again unable to score.

It was all Varsity Reds in the final few minutes and the team pulled Shantz with well over a minute to play. With 47 seconds remaining, Locke stripped Alex Wall of the puck at the blue line and scored into the empty net, making it a 3-1 final.

The winner of this series will play the winner of the other AUS semifinal, which features Acadia taking on Saint Mary’s. The Huskies lead that series 2-1 heading into game four tomorrow night in Halifax.

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