Andrew Rankin - Metro Halifax
The Saint Mary’s Huskies ended their improbable playoff run appropriately fighting right to the bitter end.
© JEFF HARPER - METRO HALIFAX
Acadia Axemen's Leo Jenner hoists the AUS Men's Hockey Cup over his head at the Halifax Forum on Monday night after defeating the Saint Mary's Huskies.
But with 58 seconds left in regulation time, Michael Clarke dealt the knockout blow, firing a laser into the Huskies empty net that put the Acadia Axemen up 3-1.
That’s the way it would stand with the Axemen capturing the best-of-five AUS final in four games before a spirited Halifax Forum crowd of 3,554 on Monday night.
As a devastated Huskies squad headed back to their dressing room, the series favourites broke into unbridled celebration.
“I’m so happy for the guys,” said tournament MVP Liam Heelis. “I’m just so proud of the guys and as I watch them now I can say they deserve every moment of this.”
A day after Saint Mary’s staved off elimination with a gutsy 2-1 victory, it was the No. 2 ranked Axemen who had the slight edge on this night.
The visitors got on the board first, making the home squad pay for a sloppy turnover late in the first period. They did the same in the middle frame, breaking a 1-1 tie with just over five minutes remaining in the period.
For the second straight night, both goalies- Huskies’ Anthony Peters and Acadia’s Evan Mosher- were on their game.
But it was the latter who savoured victory, in his final year and a season after being demoted to the team’s backup goalie.
He was quick to dish out credit to an opponent who arrived into the playoffs as the fifth seed, but managed to knock off the defending national champion New Brunswick Varsity Reds en route to the final.
“Everyone sees how tough they are to play against,” said Mosher. “They had a rough start but they eventually became the team everyone knew they could be.”
The Axemen will now fight for a national championship in Saskatoon, from March 20 to 23.
Huskies captain Lucas Bloodoff’s varsity career abruptly came to an end on Monday night. But, in his dissapointment, the reigning CIS player of the year could see the bigger picture.
“It’s been an amazing experience,” said Bloodoff, who finishes up a four year career with the Huskies. “But none of us are sulking now. We have a lot to be proud of. I’ve never experienced a year with so much adversity, but I couldn’t be prouder of all those guys.”
Dustin Ekelman and Travis Randell rounded out the scoring for the Axemen, while Steven Shipley responded for the Huskies.