Mike Danton is making an impact for the Saint Mary’s Huskies — and his contributions couldn’t come at a better time.
The 28-year-old ex-NHL right-winger has stepped up on the Huskies’ injury-depleted second line, scoring in each quarter-final win over the Moncton Aigles Bleus last weekend. He has five goals in nine games since returning to hockey on Jan. 27 from a six-year absence due to legal trouble.
The Huskies swept the Aigles Bleus and face the Acadia Axemen in the Atlantic University Sport best-of-five semifinals starting tomorrow at Acadia Arena in Wolfville.
Although Danton has an impressive resumé for a player at the AUS level, no one was sure how long it would take him to find his legs and his timing after a long layoff.
“He’s been a nice surprise,” said Huskies head coach Trevor Stienburg. “If we didn’t have him, we’d be in trouble. Him coming in puts a Band-Aid on — a nice Band-Aid.”
Danton’s continued success will be key for the third-place Huskies against the No. 2 Axemen, who had a bye to the semifinals after going 19-6-3 and finishing second.
Two-thirds of the Huskies’ second line — Cam Fergus and Kyle Doucet — remains injured, leaving Danton, Justin Munden and Brad Smith as the new secondary trio.
But Stienburg wants to see more production out of his top scoring line of Marc Rancourt, Cody Thornton and Colby Pridham. They scored just once in the quarter-finals.
“The primary guys can’t go to sleep and expect the second line to step up,” he said. “Our top guys need to score.”
With a 1-2-1 record against Acadia and facing one of the best goalies in the AUS, Kristofer Westblom, Stienburg said the Huskies need to follow Danton’s lead.
“The goals he’s gotten are from getting his nose dirty, and playoffs are about get-your-nose-dirty goals,” he said. “This series is going to be about who’s most willing to get their nose dirty and we’re going to have to find a way to do that.”
X-Men hope to solve V-Reds again
The St. Francis Xavier X-Men are the only team that knows the secret to beating the New Brunswick Varsity Reds. All they have to do now is beat them three more times.
The X-Men, who dealt the Varsity Reds their only loss of the season on Feb. 12, face the nationally-top-ranked club in the best-of-five semifinals starting Thursday.
The V-Reds, who went 27-1, will be looking for revenge after the X-Men spoiled their perfect season.