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OT win keeps playoff hopes alive

By Dylan MatthiasStaff Contributor

The Tigers men’s hockey team recovered from a three-goal deficit on Friday, Jan. 22, and came back to beat the visiting Acadia Axemen in overtime. Coming off a 5-4 win against St. Francis Xavier at home on Jan. 20, the Tigers were looking to hold onto a playoff spot against an Acadia team ranked second in the AUS and fourth nationally. Currently holding the sixth and final playoff spot, one point ahead of seventh-place St. Thomas, Dalhousie is looking to end a seven-year playoff drought. Jordan Berk gave the Tigers their third straight win with a blast of a shot 4:20 into the 10-minute overtime. This is the longest winning streak the Tigers have enjoyed this year.
“We showed a lot of character tonight,” said Tigers defenseman Ryan Jenner. “Josh Disher played phenomenal.”
Disher faced 46 shots, and held the Tigers comeback hopes in the third period as he made several key saves before Benjamin Breault was able to tie the game with just over a minute left.
Acadia controlled much of the first period, scoring their first at 7:26, after a bad penalty by Jenner. The Axemen needed just 18 seconds on the power play before setting up Andrew Clark for a shot that beat a screened Disher.
The first period also saw some strong physical play, with Acadia’s Jonathan LaBerge getting hit with his head down in front of the timekeeper’s box. Scott Giles responded by taking out Ben Van Lare along the boards. Giles dropped to his knees to cut out Van Lare’s legs, a dangerous play which could have seriously injured Van Lare. No penalty was called.
Berk helped Acadia’s second goal into the net, deflecting a LaBerge shot past Disher early in the second. The Axemen scored their third off a quick draw with 3:47 left in the second. Scott Tregunna snapped a quick shot past Disher off a scrambled faceoff.
Then the comeback began, thanks to a bit of luck for the Tigers.
Down two men, Breault hopped off the bench after the first penalty expired. Receiving a stretch pass from Ron Kelly, he beat Acadia goalie Kristofer Westblom five-hole. The Tigers’ second goal was a bit more comic, and perhaps even luckier. Acadia’s Beau Prokopetz, walking the offensive blueline with the puck, attempted to pass straight through Shea Kewin. Kewin took off with the puck and Benoit Gervais, with no defenders back for Acadia. Kewin passed to Gervais, who returned it to Kewin, only to see the puck hop over Kewin’s stick. He recovered quickly, though, managing to swat the puck back to Gervais, who jammed it in. Not a textbook 2-on-0 goal, but they all count.
The Tigers equalized, as is so often the case, shortly after an Acadia opportunity. The puck bounced in on Disher, who hesitated to clear it. Josh Manning swatted it away though, and Devin Stonehouse found Breault, who cut around his man and roofed a backhander over Westblom.
A late penalty in regulation forced the Tigers to start the four-on-four overtime down a man. Yet again, Disher made several key saves during a nearly-minute-long spell of pressure in the Dalhousie zone. The late (and slightly soft) holding call on Dalhousie was made up by an obvious call on LaBerge, after he hauled down Daniel Bartek. Dalhousie forced Westblom into a fine save as Kyle Raftis hit Bartek with a beautiful cross-ice backdoor pass. Westblom came sliding across and deflected the puck away with his blocker. 29 seconds later, Breault set up Berk, who unloaded a shot that beat Westblom, giving Dalhousie the win.

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