HALIFAX — Michael Clarke’s power-play goal in the third overtime period earned the St. Francis Xavier X-Men a dramatic 2-1 semifinal win over the Saskatchewan Huskies at the CIS men’s hockey championship Saturday.
Clarke scored his fourth goal of the tournament at 17:35 of the third extra session to earn the X-Men their first national championship appearance since 2004.
"We needed to come through on the power play," Clarke said. "I wanted to put the puck on net, and I was able to get a good shot away."
StFX will face New Brunswick in Sunday’s final after the Varsity Reds blanked the Saint Mary’s Huskies 4-0 in the other semifinal.
Clarke almost ended it seconds earlier on a nice deke against Saskatchewan's Jordon Cooke, Canadian university's top goalie this year, but the puck rolled off his stick. However, the freshman forward admitted he wasn't necessarily aiming for the top corner on his game-winning goal.
"I closed my eyes," he said.
St. Francis Xavier's Brad Peddle, the CIS coach of the year, agreed.
"You don't go for the top corner in triple overtime," he said.
Saskatchewan needed four overtime periods to beat the Carleton Ravens 3-2 in quarter-final action Thursday. But Huskies coach Dave Adolph said fatigue wasn't a factor for his squad Saturday.
"I had no issues with our jump, we played fantastic," he said. "We didn't play well (against Carleton) but I thought we played really well tonight."
Saskatchewan's Levi Cable opened the scoring at 9:12 of the first with his second of the tournament. Brad Cuzner made it 1-1 at 7:37 of the second.
The X-Men outshot Saskatchewan 63-56 in the contest. Cooke registered 61 saves while Drew Owsley stopped 55 shots for the X-Men.
In the other semi, Christopher Clapperton opened the scoring for UNB 3:37 into the first period and Philippe Halley added a hat trick, scoring once in the second and two more in the third.
"He (Halley) gets better every game and he is a key difference maker for us," Varsity Reds head coach Gardiner MacDougall said.
Varsity Reds goaltender Etienne Marcoux made 13 saves for the win. Cole Cheveldave stopped 28-of-32 shots for the Huskies.
Saint Mary's takes on Saskatchewan in the bronze medal game.