Tuesday, December 6, 2016

News And Notes: Top Ten, Pete Kelly Cup, Maillet, Murray, And More

After a 10 day vacation there is a lot of news to catch up on:

- The final U Sports men's hockey top ten rankings of the year were released today and once again the Varsity Reds are in the top spot. UNB received 12 out of 15 first place votes to take top billing for the 8th consecutive week. The Saskatchewan Huskies, fresh off a two game sweep of rival Alberta, received two first place votes to move up to 2nd. The Ryerson Rams picked up the other first place vote and are ranked 3rd, their highest ranking in program history. The Alberta Golden Bears and Mount Royal Cougars - up four spots - round out the top five. McGill, Acadia, Queen's, St. FX - down four spots - and UQTR make up the rest of the top ten.

- The York Lions of the OUA West division have been named as the opponent for the upcoming 13th annual Pete Kelly Cup. The Lions currently sit in 2nd place in their division with an 11-5-2 record and sport the 3rd best GAA in the country at 2.11. This should prove to be an intriguing match-up as the V-Reds have far and away the most explosive offense in the country, lighting the lamp 5.33 times per game.

The two game series is scheduled for Thursday, December 29th and Friday, December 30th at the AUC. Both games begin at 7PM.

UNB and York have played once previously. The two teams met in December of 2003 at the Lakehead Bell Cup with the V-Reds emerging with a 9-1 victory.

- It was quite a week for forward Philippe Maillet. Not only was the 4th year veteran awarded the Mark Jeffrey Memorial Scholarship prior to Saturday's game, but he has also been named both the UNB Varsity Reds/Papa John's Pizza Athlete of the Week and the Subway AUS male Athlete of the Week. After going scoreless in back to back games the previous weekend, Maillet was back to his dominant self this past weekend as he registered 2 goals and an assist in Friday's 8-3 win over Saint Mary's and then added another 2 goals and 2 assists in UNB's 5-2 victory over Acadia the next night.

Maillet has put together yet another outstanding season thus far. He currently ranks 2nd in the AUS in goals (14), 3rd in assists (18), 2nd in point (32), 1st in +/- (+20),  1st in power play goals (9), and 3rd in shots on goal (70) while playing in all 18 games.

- The good news kept coming for Maillet as he, along with teammate Jordan Murray, have been named to the U Sports all-star team that will face the Team Canada Junior Team prospects. The two game series will take place in Blaineville-Boisbriand on Monday, December 12th at 7PM EST and Tuesday, December 13th at 1PM EST.

Murray, the reigning U Sports Defenseman of the Year, has elevated his game even further this year as he currently leads the country in scoring amongst defencemen with 9 goals and 19 assists in 18 games. His 29 points put him 5th overall in the country in scoring.

The 23 man roster consists of 11 players from the OUA and 6 each from Canada West and the AUS. Other players representing the AUS include goaltender Corbin Boes from Dalhousie, forwards Allain Saulnier from Moncton and Holden Cook from St. FX, and defenceman Geoff Schemitsch from Acadia.

Last season the teams split their two games. The U Sports all-start team won the first game 5-4 in a shootout before Team Canada rebounded with a 5-0 victory.

- Victor Findlay has posted his latest Tuesday Morning Skate.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Undefeated Streak Ends

As we have seen in the past, to beat the University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds you most likely need to A) get a fantastic goaltending performance and B) win the special teams battle. The Acadia Axemen managed both tonight and, as a result, they handed the V-Reds their first regulation loss of the season, 2-1 in Wolfville. UNB falls to 12-1-2 on the season while the Axemen pull within a point of 2nd place with a 9-5-1 mark.

- Rob Mignardi (Simpson, McIvor) scored the lone goal for UNB, connecting for a shorthanded marker at 17:15 of the first period to tie the game.

- The Axemen received power play goals by Michael Clarke at 11:06 of the first period and Remy Giftopoulos at 9:00 of the middle stanza.

- UNB out-shot the the Axemen 39-14, including 28-5 over the final 40 minutes. Needless to say, Axemen goalie Robert Steeves was the difference maker as he came up with a pile of larcenous stops.

- The other difference? Special teams. UNB was an almost unbelievable 0 for 11 with the man advantage. This included a pair of 5-on-3 power plays and 7 straight power plays over a 22 minute span between the 2nd and 3rd periods. On the other hand, Acadia was 2 for 9 on the night.

- Colin Suellentrop returned to the line-up while Randy Gazzola was out due to an injury suffered last weekend. Cameron Critchlow, Oliver Cooper, and Peter Trainor were also scratched.

- The loss snaps a 26-0-2 regular season run by UNB dating back to November 27th last year. Coincidentally, their last regular season loss in regulation time was exactly one year ago today when they fell 7-4 to Moncton.

- The 28 game regular season undefeated streak matches the V-Reds best ever. They rang off 28 straight victories between 2008/09 and 2009/10.

- Out of UNB's last 23 regular season losses (regulation + OT/SO) dating back to the beginning of the 2012/13 season, 10 have been at the hands of the Axemen. They are only 8-5-5 against Acadia in that span.

- The Varsity Reds are 4-6-3 in their last 13 visits to Wolfville.

- In other AUS action tonight, Saint Mary's continued their recent hot streak with a 6-3 win over visiting UPEI and Moncton doubled up Dalhousie 4-2 at home.

- The V-Reds are back at it tomorrow night when they travel to Saint Mary's for a date against the Huskies. Game time is 7PM.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

News And Notes: Top 10, Braes, TMS, Beauvillier

A couple of early-week anecdotes:

- The Varsity Reds are once again the unanimous top team in the country according to the latest U Sports men's hockey top ten released earlier today. UNB received all 15 first place votes to maintain the top ranking for a 6th consecutive week. They were followed by Saskatchewan, Alberta, St. FX, and McGill, who jumped up a week-high three spots. Ryerson, UOIT, Queen's, UQTR, and Mount Royal, who dropped four spots from last week, make up the rest of the top ten. Acadia and UPEI were the other two AUS teams to receive votes.

- Forward Cam Braes has been named the UNB Varsity Reds/Papa John's Pizza male Athlete of the Week. After missing three game due to injury Braes made a triumphant return to the line-up this past week, picking up an assist in a 6-2 win over UPEI on Wednesday and then contributing a career-high five points - including a hat-trick - in Saturday's 9-1 demolition of Moncton. On the season the 5th year native of Shawnigan Lake, BC ranks 5th in the conference with 22 points (9 goals, 13 assists) in only 11 games.

- Speaking of Braes, Victor Findlay names him one of his stars of the week in his latest edition of Tuesday Morning Skate.

- V-Reds forward Francis Beauvillier talks about his younger brother Anthony in an article by Cory Wright on NHL.com. The younger Beauvillier, who was selected 28th overall by the New York Islanders in the 2015 draft, made his NHL debut earlier this season.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

UNB Continues Dominance Over Moncton

The Universite de Moncton Aigles Bleus might have the most dangerous line in the AUS with the Saulnier twins and Jean Francois Plante accounting for 71 points thus far this season, but the Varsity Reds showed that their top unit is just as dangerous as Philippe Maillet, Cam Braes, and Stephen Anderson combined for 12 points in tonight's 9-1 rout in the 1st annual Teddy Bear Toss night. UNB's 8th win in a row gives them a 12-0-2 record, 6 points clear of the 2nd place St. FX X-Men with a game in hand. At the other end of the spectrum are the Aigles Bleus, now 4-9-1 and in last place.

Once again the V-Reds came out flying, and almost scored in the first minute when a shot got through goaltender Brandon Thibeau and rolled towards the open net. However, a defenceman was able to pick the puck off the goal line just in time to keep the game scoreless. After a few more close calls UNB finally got the Teddy Bear Toss goal at 10:59 when Cam Braes (Anderson, Murray) jammed in a rebound at the side of the net, triggering a shower of stuffed animals on to the ice surface. After a five minute delay to clean up a truck load of stuffed animals the game resumed and V-Reds would strike twice more before the end of the period. At 15:37 Braes connected again after some nice work by Philippe Maillet. Maillet tracked down a long Marcus McIvor pass just before it reached the goal line for an icing, fended off two defenders, and found Braes all alone in front of the net for a quick snap shot. Maillet (Murray, Brace) then scored one of his own, this time on the power play, at 19:08 when he one-timed a shot from the left face-off circle. Shots in the very one-sided period were 16-2 for UNB.

The Aigles Bleus got some momentum to begin the 2nd period when Jean-Francois Plante scored his AUS-leading 16th goal of the year on the power play 40 seconds into the period to cut the deficit to 3-1. The momentum was short-lived though as Plante took a penalty at 6:16 and Mike Thomas (Gazzola) made Moncton pay 36 seconds later when he was the last player to touch a ping-ponging puck in front of the goal. The V-Reds would, for all intents and purposes, put the game away with a pair of late goals 37 seconds apart. At 17:15 Philippe Halley took Matt Petgrave's missed shot off the end boards and banged it in. Rob Mignardi was credited with the secondary assist on the goal. Then at 17:52 Cam Braes (Maillet, Anderson) took a pass from behind the net in the slot and fired it past Thibeau. Shots in the period were 11-5 for the Varsity Reds.

The game began to deteriorate in the 3rd period as both teams took a number of penalties and were essentially playing out the string. The Aigles Bleus put in back-up goaltender Alexi Thibaudeau to begin the period but he was unable to slow down the high-flying V-Reds either, surrendering three more goals. Philippe Maillet (Braes, Mignardi) made it 7-1 with his second goal of the night from almost the exact same spot as his first while on the power play at 5:39, Jordan Murray (Braes, Beauvillier) took a cross-ice pass in the offensive zone and picked the top corner, and then, for good measure, Christopher Clapperton (Caissy, Bouden) deflected a point shot for a power play goal with just four seconds remaining. UNB out-shot Moncton 14-2 in the period.

- Cameron Critchlow drew back into the line-up, replacing Mark Simpson. Colin Suellentrop, Oliver Cooper, and Peter Trainor all remained out. UNB once again played with only five defenceman.

- Defenceman Randy Gazzola left the game late in the 2nd period and never returned.

- When Jordan Murray received a 10-minute misconduct to begin the 3rd period, the V-Reds were down to only 3 defenceman for the duration of the misconduct. This forced forward Matt Boudens to slide back and play defence for the period.

- Shots in the game were 40-9 for UNB. The V-Reds had as many goals as Moncton had shots on goal.

- Alex Dubeau was hardly challenged all night, turning aside 8 out of 9 shots directed his way to improve to 5-0-1 on the season.

- All teddy bears collected tonight will benefit the Salvation Army.

- UNB's power play continued to be red hot as they went 4 for 6. Moncton was 1 for 5. The V-Reds are now operating at 33% with the man advantage this season.

- Attendance was 2398.

- Braes (3 goals, 2 assists), Maillet (2 goals, 2 assists), and Murray (1 goal, 2 assists) were the three stars of the game.

- The V-Reds won 46 out of 85 face-offs.

- UNB has out-scored Moncton 27-3 in three game so far this year.

- Maillet (25 points), Murray (23), and Braes (22) currently rank 2nd, 3rd, and 5th respectively in AUS scoring.

- UNB has now won 10 straight home games over the Aigles Bleus.

- The V-Reds are averaging 5.71 goals per game this year. The next best team is Acadia at 3.71 goals per game.

- In their last 7 games UNB has out-scored the opposition 42-8. They have not trailed at any point during that span.

- Saint Mary's defeated Dalhousie 5-3 in the only other AUS game tonight.

- The Varsity Reds head back on the road next weekend when they face Acadia on Friday night and Saint Mary's on Saturday night. Both games are set for a 7PM puck drop and can be viewed online at www.AUStv.ca.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

V-Reds Power Past Panthers

The USports #1 ranked University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds scored four power play goals en route to a 6-2 victory over the UPEI Panthers tonight in Charlottetown, their 7th win in a row. UNB remains undefeated in regulation time this season as they improve to 11-0-2. On the flip side, the 5th place Panthers have now dropped three in a row to fall to 5-6-2 on the season.

The Varsity Reds opened the scoring just past the midway point of the opening period when Chris Caissy (Mignardi, Clapperton) had his quick shot from the top of the left face-off circle partially deflected by a defender. The fluttering puck fooled Panthers goaltender Matt Mahalak just enough to squeeze between his arm and body and into the back of the net. Although the Panthers would receive a 45 second two man advantage a few minutes later, that would prove to be the only goal of the period as UNB out-shot UPEI 10-5.

After taking four straight penalties to begin the game, the V-Reds would get three straight power play opportunities in the 2nd period and they would convert on their first two chances to make it a 3-0 game. At 11:22 it was Cameron Brace (Braes, Mignardi) coming in off the blue line and getting the puck all alone on the right side after a tie-up on an offensive zone face-off. Brace skated in and fired a hard wrist shot that beat Mahalak cleanly on the far side. Just under 6 minutes later it was Caissy (Gazzola, Thomas) getting his 2nd of the night after picking up a loose puck at the top of the left face-off circle after a collision between Thomas and two Panthers. He had an open lane to the net and sniped a shot into the top left corner. UNB would take a three goal lead to the 3rd period after a period in which they out-shot the Panthers 15-4.

The Panthers scored two goals in the first 4:33 of the 3rd period as they attempted to make a comeback, but that was sandwiched around Brace's (Boudens, Petgrave) second goal of the night at 3:30 as he jammed in a loose puck during a scramble in the crease. UNB would then go on a four minute power play at 11:05 and put the game away with a goals on each end of the double-minor. First, it was Christopher Clapperton (Caissy, Anderson) scoring for the second straight game on the rush at 12:21 and then, just 47 seconds later, Brace (Murray, Maillet) would complete his hat-trick with a one-time from the left side after some nice puck movement and patience in the offensive zone had the defense out of position. That would cap the scoring in this on as the Panthers did hold a slight 9-8 advantage in shots in the period.

- Shots in the game were 33-18 for UNB.

- Etienne Marcoux turned aside 16 shots on the night in improving to 7-0-1 on the season and 23-2-1 in his career.

- Cam Braes made his return to the line-up after missing two games with an injury. Cameron Critchlow, Colin Suellentrop, Oliver Cooper, and Peter Trainor were the scratches. UNB once again played with 13 forwards and 5 defenceman.

- The V-Reds special teams were the difference tonight. They went 4 for 5 on the power play and killed off all five of the Panthers man-advantage opportunities. UNB currently leads the AUS in both power play percentage (31.3%) and penalty killing percentage (90.7%).

- UNB had a good night in the face-off circle, winning 45 out of 76.

- Brace (3 goals) was named the player of the game.

- Caissy also had three points (2 goals, 1 assist) while Clapperton (goal, assist) and Mignardi (2 assists) also had multi-point efforts.

- Attendance was 749.

- UNB is now on a 25-0-2 run in conference play dating back to the final game of the 1st half of last season (November 27th). Overall, they are 35-2-2 against CIS competition since that date.

- While UNB still has yet to lose a game in regulation, every other team in the country has lost at least twice in regulation thus far.

- The V-Reds have scored 20 more goals than the next best team in the country. St. FX has 52 goals in 14 games and Carleton has 52 in 12 games. Their 1.96 GAA is also tops in the country, edging York (2.05).

- In the only other game in the AUS tonight the St, FX X-Men edged the Acadia Axemen 3-2 in overtime in Antigonish. The win ensures the X-Men (10-4-0) remain four points behind the V-Reds while increasing their advantage over the 3rd place Axemen (7-5-1) to five points.

- The Varsity Reds are back home on Saturday night for the first time in two weeks when they host the last place Universite de Moncton Aigles Bleus on Teddy Bear Toss night. Game time is 7PM.