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Tigers drop home opener 5-3 to Axemen

Photo by Trevor MacMillan
Photo by Trevor MacMillan

Game recap by: Kirk Jessome

(Halifax, NS) – The puck has dropped on the start of the 2017-2018 AUS men's hockey season in an action packed weekend as the Acadia Axemen visited the Dalhousie Tigers as part of the Tigers home opener, Saturday night at the Halifax Forum. In a high scoring affair, the Axemen came away with a 5-3 victory.

Play started with Tigers taking a two quick penalties to go down two men. Some great positioning play from the Tigers allowed them to kill off both penalties unscathed.

The game picked up the pace halfway through the first as Acadia's Marc McNulty (Medicine Hat, AB) walked out from the half-board and fired a wrist shot that snuck under the blocker of Tigers goalie Corbin Boes (Saskatoon, SK) to put the Axemen up 1-0.

Just moments after, the Tigers found themselves with a power-play, and it didn't take them long to capitalize. After Jackson Playfair (Fort St. James, BC) won a clean faceoff back to his defenceman Duncan MacIntyre (Sydney, NS), MacIntyre sent a wrist shot from the blue-line that was tipped in front by Colton Heffley (Dartmouth, NS) to beat the glove of Acadia goalie Dawson Carty (Burlington, ON). 

The first period of action came to an end with score knotted at 1-1.

The Tigers came out aggressively to start the second frame, keeping the puck deep in the attacking end. A good bounce hopped onto the stick of Acadia's Stephen Harper (Burlington, ON), who saw the Tigers defence pinching and he was able to spring Kyle Farrell in alone against Boes. Farrell deked right, went left, and softly slid the puck under the pad of the outstretched goalie to give the Axemen a 2-1 lead early in the second.

Penalties were becoming an issue for the Tigers as they once again found themselves on a three-man penalty-kill, this time a 4-3. Acadia held pressure in the Tigers end, working the puck along the blue-line to find an opening, which came for them when Kyle Farrell found Stephen Harper alone at the faceoff dot who made no mistake with his open shot. That made it 3-1 for Acadia midway through the period. 

A quick, major penalty to Acadia put the Tigers in a two-man advantage of their own. The Tigers worked the puck around a tight formation, and a high shot from the point off the stick of Aiden Jamieson (Lindsay, ON) made it through a crowd to beat Dawson Carty over the glove side shoulder to bring the Tigers within one.

Goals were coming fast and furious in the frame as Acadia answered right back with one of their own. Harper once again connected with Kyle Farrell as he sprung him down the right side and his quick snap-shot beat Boes five-hole. That put Acadia up 4-2 to end the second period.

The pace of the game dipped through the start of the third period, with a lot of dump-and-chase style play but no real chances generated.

Halfway through the frame, the Axemen sent two men into the attacking zone, with Remy Giftopoulos (Ancaster, ON) firing a shot that bounced back out front off the pad of Boes, right onto the tape of a streaking Chance Braid who tucked it in to put Acadia up 5-2.

Just a few minutes later the Tigers were on a two-man advantage and in desperate need of a goal. Struggling to find an angle early in the power-play, the Tigers were settling for outside shots that couldn't find their way through. As the first penalty was about to expire, Myles McGurty (Hoboken, NJ) sent a pass across the point to a waiting Ryan Verbeek (Kingston, ON) who wired the one-timer into the bottom of the net to make it 5-3.

The Tigers needed to be aggressive and pulled their goalie with three minutes left to go, but a penalty taken forced Boes back into the net with just over a minute to go, and the Tigers were forced to spend the remainder of the game killing off the penalty. 

As time expired in the third period, the Acadia Axemen took a 5-3 victory.

The Subway Player of the Game was Acadia's Kyle Farrell for his two goals.

The Tigers will look to bounce back next Friday when they travel to Acadia to face the Axemen in a rematch, while Acadia will travel to Antigonish to take on the X-men.