The Saint Mary’s Huskies’ power play awoke from dormancy and shredded the Acadia Axemen.
The Huskies lit the lamp four straight times on the power play in the first period — more than they’d scored in five previous playoff games combined — in a 9-2 drubbing of the Axemen before a crowd of 3,228 at the Forum last night.
The win completed a 3-1 upset over the favoured Axemen in the best-of-five semifinal and sends the Huskies to their third straight Atlantic University Sport hockey final and gives them a shot at their second straight banner.
The Huskies’ power play ended up with five goals — three off the stick of all-Canadian defenceman Andrew Hotham as part of a memorable four-goal, two-assist showing — and didn’t fail until the third period when the No. 1 unit went to the bench with a six-goal cushion.
“Our power play has really struggled (lately),” said Hotham, whose Huskies had converted just three times on 25 attempts coming in. “We got back to basics and tried to get the puck on net as much as we could … and our power play really stepped up.”
There was some debate over how Saint Mary’s ended up on the power play so much early on. The Huskies credited their live legs and hard work for forcing Acadia to hold them up on the cycle, while Axemen head coach Darren Burns said he was “completely baffled” by the infractions.
“We’re a pretty disciplined team and I didn’t see us taking any blatant penalties out there,” said Burns, whose troops had a penalty-killing rate of 90 per cent coming in. “But the bottom line is, we got ’em and we didn’t kill ’em.”
Former Halifax Mooseheads forwards Justin Munden and Colby Pridham each scored a pair for the third-place Huskies, while Patrick O’Keefe added a single and goalie Neil Conway made 23 saves.
The Axemen, who finished second overall, hadn’t lost by more than four goals all season.
“I definitely didn’t see that coming,” Hotham said. “They played so well all year … But with them playing well, it made us play better.”
The Huskies move on to face the fifth-place St. Francis Xavier X-Men, who completed a three-game upset sweep over the defending national champion New Brunswick Varsity Reds on Tuesday.