The U SPORTS second-ranked St. F.X. X-Men will wrap up their Atlantic University Sport (AUS) regular season home schedule this weekend.
On Friday (Feb. 2), the Blue and White will host the Dalhousie Tigers, while the Université de Moncton Aigles Bleus will visit Antigonish Saturday (Feb. 3).
Puck drop for both match-ups is 7 p.m. at the Keating Centre.
“We feel confident – I just think we need to stick to what we do best and we can’t get away from that,” X-Men goaltender Chase Marchand said.
“We need to keep doing the little things and the rest will keep falling into place for us.”
Sophomore defenceman Cole MacDonald described the X-Men, this season, as “a great group of guys.”
“We know this is a year that we can really go far. We are really bearing down and looking for that championship this year,” he said.
Heading down the home stretch and into the AUS playoffs, MacDonald said the X-Men “don’t want to let up.”
“We always want to go into playoffs hot, so we just have to keep coming – every night – and continue to battle,” he added.
Goal for Cole
MacDonald tallied three points, including a second-period, game-winning goal, in leading the X-Men to a 4-1 home win, Jan. 24, over the Acadia Axemen.
“We were really fired up for this game,” he said, noting the victory clinched a first-round playoff bye for his team.
After the visitors opening the scoring, Matt Needham evened the contest, on a power play late in the first period, on assists from Craig Duininck and MacDonald.
At 8:10 of the second period, four-on-four, MacDonald finished on helpers from Jagger Dirk and Holden Cook.
“I just really buckled down,” MacDonald said of his play this season, noting he is getting a little more ice time.
“I am getting a chance to shutdown other teams’ top lines, as well, so I am just trying to focus on my defensive game first and the offense will come.”
After Michael Clarke roofed a wrist shot, from Cook and MacDonald, the X-Men led 3-1 heading to the third period.
In the final stanza, Mark Tremaine wrapped up the scoring, from Kristoff Kontos and Cody Hendsbee, on the man advantage.
Marchand turned aside 33 shots for the victory.
“I think we came out strong. It was an up-and-down game and we had to battle through it,” the goaltender said, noting the number of penalties in the game.
“I think that’s been the story all year – we just battle and battle – and good things happen.”
Along with their two goals with the man advantage, the X-Men kept the high-flying Axemen power play off the score sheet in 10 opportunities.
“We had a lot of PK guys step up, especially when guys block shots and put their bodies on the line, which really helps me out and makes the game much easier for me.
“Everyone did a great job tonight,” Marchand said.
Cook scored a pair of power-play goals for the X-Men in a 5-1 home victory, Jan. 19, over Les Aigles Bleus.
After the visitors opened the scoring, Nathan Pancel, from Kontos, knotted the game in the first period.
Early in the second period, with the man advantage, Cook gave the X-Men their first lead, one that they would not relinquish.
Clarke and Dirk assisted.
Hendsbee, from Dirk and Tremaine, doubled the St. F.X. lead, while Needham – on helpers from Anthony Difruscia and Bryson Cianfrone – made it 4-1 before the second intermission.
Cook, from Dirk, wrapped up the scoring with less than three minutes remaining in the third period.
Marchand made 27 saves for the win.
Over the weekend, the X-Men visited the rival Saint Mary’s Huskies in Halifax, with results unavailable at press time.