A four-goal outburst in the third period powered the Saint Mary's Huskies to a 5-1 victory over the UPEI Panthers in Game 1 of their Atlantic university hockey quarter-final Wednesday evening at the Halifax Forum.
"We kind of struggled in the first and in the second we were marginally better," SMU head coach Trevor Stienburg said. "And then in the third, we caught a break which gave us a little wind in our sails and we started to play the way we can.
"I don't have the answer but maybe it's because we have 11 guys playing in their first AUS playoff and they might have had the jitters at the start."
With the score tied at 1-1, Saint Mary's netted four unanswered goals in the final frame. Anthony Repaci broke the deadlock 1:44 into the period. Hunter Garlent, Mark Trickett and Stephen Shipley rounded out the SMU scoring.
Garlent opened the scoring with a power-play goal 17:05 into the first. The Huskies freshman and leading scorer finished with three points.
Cody Payne replied for the Panthers early into the second.
The No. 4 Huskies can wrap up the best-of-three series Friday night in Charlottetown.
"We'll recharge the batteries and do our best to wrap it up," Stienburg said.
"P.E.I. is a tough place to play and UPEI is a good hockey team. But we've played well in their building so we'll need to relax a little bit and know we've played well over there. These guys know what to do and it's not an easy task. Closing out a series is very, very difficult."
X-Men 6, Aigles Bleus 2: At Antigonish, St. Francis Xavier drew first blood in its opening-round series against Moncton.
"To get the win in the first game of a best-of-three series is pretty important," St. F.X. head coach Brad Peddle said. "The first win is crucial because you don't want to go on the road and be facing elimination."
Eric Locke, with two goals, Bryson Cianfrone and Nathan Pancel each had three points for the third-ranked X-Men.
Kristoff Kontos and Cole Macdonald also scored for St. F.X., which travels to Moncton for Game 2 on Friday night.
Allain Saulnier and Steve Lebel answered for the Aigles Bleus. Both goals were scored on the power play.
Peddle said his club needs to limit trips to the penalty box and not give the high-octane Moncton offence any opportunities with the man advantage.
"We gave up a couple power-play opportunities which they cashed in so we have to make sure we play them 5-on-5," Peddle said.
"At even strength, we held them to nothing. But they don't need much. If you give them power-play opportunities, they'll make you pay and that's what they did, scoring both of their goals on the power play. We have to make sure we play them 5-on-5, especially in their rink."