If the Saint Mary’s Huskies had a healthy roster, Shawn O’Donnell and Andrew White might have been healthy scratches last night. Instead, the ex-Halifax Mooseheads forwards held the keys to a critical victory.

The Huskies edged the Acadia Axemen 3-1 before a crowd of 2,478 at the Forum, getting a big goal from O’Donnell in the first and an even bigger assist from White on Cory Tanaka’s game-winning tally just 4:10 into the third period.

The win gives the Huskies a 2-1 lead in the Atlantic University Sport best-of-five hockey semifinal.

O’Donnell, a third-line right-winger, and White, who mans the same flank on the fourth line, have been asked to elevate their games with injuries to stars Cam Fergus and Kyle Doucet.

“That’s what we’re there for,” said O’Donnell, a Cole Harbour native who played 31 games with the Mooseheads in 2007-08. “We have some of the best players in the league on our team. We just try to follow suit from those guys and give those guys a rest when they need it and try to keep the heat on.”

O’Donnell, a rookie, dove at a rebound in the crease and stabbed it past Axemen goaltender Kristofer Westblom at 11:58 of the first. White, a sophomore who had 57 points in 117 games with the Mooseheads from 2006 to 2008, made a perfect cross-ice pass to Tanaka, who roofed one over a helpless Westblom.

Although Jonathan Laberge pulled the Axemen to within one with the goalie pulled with 78 seconds left, another former Mooseheads forward, Colby Pridham, iced it with an empty-netter with 10 seconds to go.

“They kept us going the whole game for sure,” said Pridham, of the Huskies’ grind lines. “We don’t like to expect it from them but we just know they’re going to be there for us.”

The Huskies outshot the Axemen 43-25 but received tremendous goaltending from rookie Neil Conway.

The Huskies can wrap up the series tomorrow at 7 p.m. at the Forum. Game 5, if necessary, is Friday in Wolfville.

“It will be good for us to try and wrap it up at home,” O’Donnell said. “They’re a tough team to play in their barn.”