The Saint Mary’s Huskies have given the St. Francis Xavier X-Men’s dream playoff run a rude awakening.
The Huskies jumped all over Atlantic University Sport’s Cinderella playoff team last night before a season-high crowd of 3,816 at the Forum, taking the opener of the best-of-five men’s hockey final by a convincing 7-1 margin.
After a scoreless opening 30 minutes, the Huskies finally knocked down the frustrating defensive wall that earned the X-Men a semifinal sweep of the defending national champion New Brunswick Varsity Reds last week.
Former Mooseheads standout Colby Pridham had a hat trick as part of a five-goal explosion in a 7:12 span in the second as the Huskies turned a one-shot game into a blowout.
“We deflated their momentum,” said Huskies forward Mike Danton, an ex-NHLer who scored twice.
Added Pridham: “We put them behind the 8-ball and they had to push (offensively). I don’t think we saw that defensive game, but I expect to see it later in the series.”
The X-Men had allowed just eight goals in five previous playoff games, buoyed by the outstanding goaltending of Lantz’s Bryan Gillis. But Gillis allowed six goals on 30 shots through just more than 44 minutes of action and was pulled.
The X-Men, however, gave him little support, and the opportunistic Huskies pounced.
“For the first time all playoffs, we got away from our game plan,” said X-Men head coach Brad Peddle.
The defending-champion Huskies, who are still missing key second-liners Cam Fergus and Kyle Doucet, have 16 goals in their past two games and are hitting their stride.
“Guys have really stepped up and filled those roles,” Danton said. “We’re really playing well as a team.”
Brad Smith and Andrew White added singles, while goalie Neil Conway turned aside 23 shots for the win.
Game 2 is tomorrow at 7 p.m. in Antigonish.
Swan should be fine after collapse
The St. Francis Xavier X-Men aren’t expecting top goal-scorer Bryce Swan to miss any time after collapsing on the ice in the second period of last night’s game. X-Men head coach Brad Peddle said the 22-year-old former Mooseheads right-winger was “just under the weather and it was exhaustion and dehydration.” The game was delayed for more than five minutes as Swan was revived by the X-Men’s medical staff. “He’ll be OK,” Peddle said.
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