Sunday, October 21, 2018

Murphy Sends Reds Into 1st

For the second straight night the University of New Brunswick Reds came out on the right side of a tightly contested game against a tough opponent. Defenceman Matt Murphy scored 30 seconds into overtime to give the visiting Reds a 3-2 victory over the Saint Mary's Huskies, which moves them to 6-0-0 on the season and into sole possession of 1st place with a game in hand. The Huskies are now 5-1-1.

The pace was great from the beginning in this one as both teams went back and forth with minimal whistles in the opening minutes. The Reds dented the scoreboard first at 15:28 while on the power play. Cameron Brace fed Joe Gatenby at the point and his ensuing shot was deflected in front by Mark Rassell for his 3rd goal of the season. That would prove to be the only goal of the period as UNB out-shot Saint Mary's 11-7.

The Reds carried the momentum over into the 2nd period and started to slowly take over the play, but this was halted abruptly at 13:18 when Bronson Beaton threw a nice saucer pass from the half boards to Hunter Garlent at the far side of the net. The always dangerous Garlent didn't miss, re-directing the pass into the corner for a power play goal to tie the game. UNB got the goal back less than four minutes later with yet another power play goal. With the teams skating 4-on-4, Kris Bennett forced a turnover at the Huskies blue line and fed it to Matthew Boucher at the top of the face-off circle, who whipped a wicked one-timer into the top left corner just seconds after the Reds penalty expired. Boucher's first career AUS goal gave UNB a 2-1 lead after 40 minutes. Shots in the period were 13-5 for UNB.

The Reds got the lone power play of the 3rd period in the opening five minutes, but were unsuccessful in extending their lead. The Huskies then pushed hard for the tying goal and, after being held off the scoreboard for most of the period, finally broke through at 16:01. After an offensive zone face-off win, Huskies good-looking rookie defenceman (and AUS leading scorer) Nick Welsh got the puck, made a nice to-drag to get around a defender, and beat Alex Dubeau with a wrist shot. The two teams played out the final four minutes without any more scoring and headed to overtime. Shots in the period heavily favoured SMU 16-6.

It didn't take long for the game to be decided in the extra session. Each team only had one shot on goal but UNB made theirs count. After a face-off win in their own zone Matt Murphy found Mark Simpson with a pass as the centre was skating through the neutral zone. Simpson gained the Huskies zone before dropping the puck back to Murphy, who proceeded to skate in and beat Eric Brassard between the legs with a shot from the hash marks to give the Reds a big two points.

- Alexandre Goulet replaced Patrick Watling in the line-up. Once again, Randy Gazzola and James McEwan were out.

- Shots in the game were 31-29 for UNB.

- Alex Dubeau improved to 3-0-0 on the season with a 1.93 GAA and 0.924 save percentage.

- It was a strong weekend overall for the goaltending as Dubeau and Rylan Parenteau combined for 0.949 save percentage in the two games.

- UNB was 2 for 5 on the power play. Saint Mary's, who entered the game with a power play that operated at over 41%, went 1 for 6.

- Attendance was 450.

- Matt Murphy was named the player of the game after scoring his second career OT goal. He also provided the game winning goal in a 3-2 win in Acadia last December 2nd.

- For the first time in three years UNB swept a road weekend against Acadia and Saint Mary's. They had dropped at least one of the games in each of the last five weekends playing those two.

- UNB is now 5-3-2 in their last 10 regular season games on the road against SMU. They have out-scored the Huskies 34-33 in those games.

- This is the first time since the 2013/2014 season UNB has started 6-0-0.

- The 4-0-0 University of Ottawa Gee Gees are the only other unbeaten team in the country.

- This is already UNB's 7th one goal game of the season (out of 11 total games). They are 6-1-0 in those games so far. By comparison, they didn't play their 7th one goal game of the season last year until their 21st game of the season.

- More evidence of this season being tighter than ever? A night after all three games were decided by one goal, St. FX defeated Dalhousie 2-1 in Antigonish and UPEI needed an empty net goal to salt away a 5-3 road win over Acadia.

- UNB is back at the AUC next weekend for rematches against this weekend's opponents. They face Acadia on Friday night and Saint Mary's on Saturday night. Puck drop for both games is 7PM.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Reds Notch Big Road Win

The #1 nationally ranked University of New Brunswick Reds passed their biggest test of the early season as they went into Wolfville this evening and escaped with a nail biting 2-1 victory over the Acadia Axemen. UNB moves to 5-0-0 on the season and are now the lone unbeaten team in the conference. Acadia is now 2-3-0.

After a scoreless first period in which Acadia held a 12-6 shot advantage it was the visitors getting on the board first by way of a shorthanded goal 6:14 into the 2nd period. Moments after the Axemen missed on a good chance at one end, Noah Carroll fired the puck up the ice to Matt Boudens who took it hard to the net. While the initial attempt was unsuccessful, the puck sat in the crease where Samuel Dove-McFalls pounced to push it in for the 1-0 lead. The Axemen struck back 5:33 later on a fortunate bounce to tie the game. Ryan Foss entered the offensive zone and took a hard shot that missed the net, but the puck bounced hard off the end boards to Rodney Southam at the side of the net who promptly stuffed it past Rylan Parenteau. The teams would remain tied after a period in which UNB out-shot Acadia 13-11.

The Reds entered the 3rd period with 45 seconds of power play time that carried over from the 2nd and they wasted little time in taking advantage. Kris Bennett (Clapperton, LeBlanc) streaked down the right side and beat Logan Flodell with a short side shot that went under Flodell's blocker to restore the lead only 17 seconds into the period. After the goal UNB started to clamp down defensively, not allowing the Axemen to do anything once they got the puck into the offensive zone. This changed midway through the period when Acadia had back to back glorious chances to tie the game. The first chance came when Kyle Farrell went in all alone and had his shot trickle through Parenteau only to have Patrick Watling clear the puck off the goal line. Moments later Parenteau read a nice cross-ice pass through the slot, going right to left to make a beautiful glove save. The Axemen kept pushing and received a power play with five minutes remaining, but the Reds penalty killing was up to the task. They then pulled Flodell in the final minutes and, despite spending most of it in UNB's zone, were unable to find the equalizer as the Reds hung on for a big two points. Shots in the period were 8-7 for UNB.

- Cameron Brace was back in the line-up, replacing Alexandre Goulet. Randy Gazzola and James McEwan were both out once again.

- UNB was out-shot for the first time this season (30-27).

- Both teams received three power play opportunities in the contest with UNB converting once.

- Parenteau and Flodell were both exceptional in their respective nets, stopping a combined 54 out of 57 shots.

- Parenteau, Southam, and Bennett were named the game's three stars.

- The Axemen won 38 out of 64 face-offs although Mark Simpson still managed to win 19 out of his 33 chances.

- Attendance was 1877.

- UNB improves to 7-6-5 in Wolfville since the beginning of the 2010-2011 season.

- After losing 9 consecutive "pre-Christmas" games in Wolfville (4 in overtime), UNB has now won their last two. Matt Murphy's overtime goal gave them a 3-2 win in the teams final game of the first half last season to break what had been a lengthy streak.

- It was a night of tight games in the AUS. Moncton scored in the final minutes to send their game against St. FX to overtime, but it was rookie Adam Holwell scoring for the X-Men to give them a 2-1 road win. In Halifax, UPEI held off Saint Mary's 3-2 to hand the Huskies their first loss of the season.

- The 5-0-0 Reds will look to keep their winning ways going tomorrow night as they travel to Halifax to face the 5-1-0 Saint Mary's Huskies in what is arguably the marquee U Sports match-up of the night. Game time is 7PM and like usual the game can be viewed at www.AUStv.ca.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

U Sports Top Ten (#3): Reds On Top For Another Week

For a 3rd consecutive week the University of New Brunswick Reds are the top ranked men's hockey in the country, according to the latest top ten rankings released Tuesday.

UNB, who are 4-0-0 on the young season, picked up nine out of a possible fifteen first place votes and 143 points total from the media to go along with 140 ELO points for a combined total of 283 points. That total was enough to remain ahead of new #2 Saskatchewan (230 points), Alberta (one first place votes, 224 points), and Saint Mary's (five first place votes, 202 points).

Rounding out the top ten are Queen's (152), Ottawa (128), UBC (ranked for only the 2nd time in three years with 94 points), McGill (93), Ryerson (71), and Brock (ranked for only the 5th time in nine seasons with 45 points).

Another nine teams received honourable mention including St. FX (20 points), Acadia (12), and Moncton (3).

Simpson Named Athlete Of The Week

Forward Mark Simpson is the latest recipient of the UNB Reds/Papa John's male Athlete of the Week the school announced earlier this week.

Simpson played a pivotal role in UNB's two victories last weekend. On Friday night he scored a goal and won 23 out of 35 face-offs in a 5-1 win over Moncton. He followed up that performance with a pair of goals in UNB's 6-3 win at UPEI the next night.

The 3rd year alternate captain is off to a blistering start to his season. He now has a league-leading five goals - to go along with two assists - in four games played. His seven points rank 4th in the conference.

He will look to continue his solid play this weekend when UNB is on the road to face the Acadia Axemen on Friday night and the Saint Mary's Huskies on Saturday.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

UNB Blitz Panthers Early, Roll To Win

The visiting University of New Brunswick Reds scored 21 seconds into the game and then added four more goals in the opening period, cruising to a 6-3 win over the UPEI Panthers tonight at the MacLauchlan Arena in Charlottetown. UNB improves to 4-0-0 on the young season while the Panthers slip to 1-3-0.

Shortly after the opening face-off the Reds broke in on a 2-on-1 and executed it to perfection with Matthew Boucher feeding Mark Simpson for a one-timer that beat Matthew Mancina, who was seeing his first action of the season in the Panthers goal. Kris Bennett also factored into the goal by picking up the secondary assist. It only took 160 seconds for UNB to make it 2-0 when Patrick Watling (Boudens, Bennett) came out from behind the net and backhanded the puck in between the post and Mancina's arm. The Reds added their third of the night at 11:36 when Christopher Clapperton got the puck to Tyler Boland who then made a nice pass across the slot to a pinching Matt Murphy who had a wide open net to deposit the puck into. The onslaught continued just under five minutes later with two more strikes. At 16:25 Boland took a hit in the offensive zone to make a play on the puck and get it over to Clapperton whose weak shot along the ice beat Mancina. Stephen Anderson was also credited with an assist on the goal, which ended Mancina's night pre-maturely. Matt Murphy (Boudens, Watling) then greeted newly summoned netminder Simon Hofley with a shot off the post and in just 11 seconds later, his second of the night making it 5-0 less than 17 minutes into the contest. The Panthers were able to get one back before the end of the period when a long Doug Blaisdell shot eluded Alex Dubeau a couple of minutes later. Despite the score, shots in the period were 15-12 for UNB.

Much like the opening period, Mark Simpson (Boland, LeBlanc) found the back of the net early in the 2nd period, sweeping in a rebound for a power play goal 54 seconds into the stanza to make it 6-1. Kameron Kielly got the one back with a power play goal of his own at 17:41 and the two teams would head to the intermission with UNB holding a 6-2 lead. Shots in the period were 14-7 for the Reds.

The Panthers had their best period of the night in the 3rd, out-shooting UNB 9-8 and scoring the only goal on a Sam Aulie marker at 11:53. Unfortunately, it was much too little much too late for the Panthers as the Reds wrapped up a convincing 6-3 victory.

- UNB went with the same line-up as last night with Cameron Brace, Randy Gazzola, and James McEwan all remaining out.

- Shots in the game were 37-28 for UNB.

- Both teams went 1 for 3 with the man advantage.

- Attendance was 578.

- UNB won 47 out of 90 face-offs with Patrick Watling (10 out of 17) finding the most success.

- Alex Dubeau made his first start of the season. His only other action thus far came two weeks ago when he came on in relief of Rylan Parenteau to pick up the win against Moncton.

- Olivier LeBlanc was a game-high +4.

- Mark Simpson now has an AUS-leading 5 goals on the season.

- The only other game tonight saw the Saint Mary's Huskies break open a close game with four 3rd period goals in an 8-3 victory over Dalhousie.

- Meanwhile, 1611 people witnessed history at the AUC tonight as the UNB Reds women's hockey team made their return to AUS and U Sports action. In what appeared to be a very evenly matched game against Mount Allison - shots were 34 apiece - the Mounties eked out a 2-1 overtime win.

- UNB is back on the road next weekend for their two biggest tests of the season so far. On Friday night they are in Wolfville to face the 2-2-0 Acadia Axemen and on Saturday night they travel to Halifax for a date with the 5-0-0 Saint Mary's Huskies. Both games are scheduled for a 7PM start and can be seen at www.AUStv.ca.