WOLFVILLE, N.S. – Any hockey fan knows that the pre-season means nothing come time for the regular season. Despite a shaky third, the Acadia Axemen looked to be in good shape heading into another season after their 7-4 win against the UPEI Panthers on Friday night.
Acadia dominated the first period and came out with two goals to show for their hard work.
Kris Hodge potted the first goal of the year on home ice 3:36 into the first period, after he picked up a rebound in front and sent it to the back of the net.
Later in the first, Chance Braid added to the Axemen lead, when he buried the puck that was lying on the goal line to put the Axemen up 2-0 heading into the second frame.
Acadia continued to add to their lead in the second, when rookie Rodney Southam fired a one-timer power-play marker into the top left corner of the net to put Acadia up 3-0.
UPEI responded on the power-play from forward Darcy Ashley, who banked the puck off of the back of the leg of the Axemen goaltender Dawson Carty and into the net to make it 3-1.
Acadia responded with not one, but two shorthanded goals in the last two minutes of the second period from star forwards Kyle Farrell and Stephen Harper to push the lead to 5-1 heading into the third period.
UPEI started to come alive in the third as Filip Rydstrom added two goals, including another goal on the man-advantage and another goal from David Mazurek.
Acadia goaltend Dawson Carty made his AUS career debut, turning aside 23 of 27 shots, while UPEI pulled their starter Matt Mahalak, after allowing 5 goals on 31 shots. Mahalak's replacement, Daryl MacCullum stopped 6 of the 8 shots he faced in the third.
Despite their strong play, the Axemen did accumulate 80 minutes in penalties on the night and the Panthers capitalized, going 2-for-9 on the power-play.
"We have a bit of a wake-up call in the first game, but we regrouped in the one practice we had and we talked and stuff and came out today and was fortunate enough for the win," said Kris Hodge who was named the Subway First Star of the Game.
The game had an appearance of a game in January in 2016, when both teams had a healthy dislike for each other following several skirmishes last season.
"Yah, I think we have a bit of a dislike from last year. Both teams worked hard tonight and we were fortunate enough for the win," noted Hodge.
Subway second and third stars of the game went to UPEI defenseman Ryan MacKinnon and Axemen forward Sam Fioretti, respectively.
The Axemen will have three days off before their final exhibition game at home against Dalhousie this coming Tuesday evening at 7:00 p.m. The Axemen then head to UMass – Lowell and the University of Maine for two exhibition games the weekend of September 30 and October 1 before opening the AUS regular season on Friday, October 6 against StFX.