Sunday, December 5, 2021

Reds Earn Weekend Split, Limp Into X-Mas Break

The Christmas break couldn't be coming at a better time for the number one ranked team in the country. The University of New Brunswick Reds earned a 3-1 home win over Moncton on Friday night before turning around and falling by the same score the next night Charlottetown against the UPEI Panthers. However, their line-up continues to be ravaged by injuries, making the upcoming three and a half week layoff a very welcome sight for the 16-2-0 Reds.

- On Friday night the Reds hosted the Universite de Moncton Aigles Bleus at the AUC for the 5th Annual Teddy Bear Toss game, which doubled as Elementary School Night. Thomas Casey (Nurse, McEwan) made sure the sold-out crowd of 3374 fans didn't have to hold on to their stuffed animals too long as he potted the opening goal 1:53 into the contest, prompting the throwing of 1577 stuffies to the ice, all of which will be donated to the less fortunate this holiday season. Nicolas Guay (Dove-McFalls, Keating) added UNB's second goal on a backhander at 8:58 and it seemed like the Reds were off to the races. That proved not to be the case, though. The Aigles Bleus played a strong game the rest of the way, cutting the lead on a Mika Cyr breakaway goal at 3:17 of the 2nd period. It wasn't until Mark Rassell (Dove-McFalls, Landry) swatted the puck in just as a UNB power play expired at 14:10 of the 3rd period that the victory felt secured.

- The Reds out-shot Moncton 30-21 on the night with period totals of 11-6, 11-6, and 8-9.

- UNB was 0 for 4 on the power play. Moncton was 0 for 2.

- Rylan Parenteau improved to 10-0-0 with the win in goal. 

- The Reds got the services of Noah Carroll back, but were missing Griffen Outhouse, Tyler Boland, James Phelan, and Brady Gilmour to injury. Gilmour underwent surgery to repair a fractured foot earlier in the week and is out long term. Benjamin Gagne served the final game of his suspension. 

- Unfortunately, Joe Gatenby left the game in the 1st period and never returned. Mark Rassell was shaken up as well in the 2nd period. He finished the game but missed Saturday's game along with Gatenby.

- Playing on the island is never easy. It is always a tough, physical battle and especially so if you have less than a full line-up. It was a valiant effort on Saturday night from a Reds squad that finished the game with only 12 skaters going against a rested UPEI team, but they ultimately fell 3-1 with the Panthers not being able to put the game away until a last minute empty netter.

- The Panthers opened the scoring 13:31 into the game when Drake Pilon picked the top left corner over Parenteau's blocker. The goal would stand until Carson McKinnon scored on a slap shot while coming down the left wing 46 seconds into the 3rd period. Nicolas Guay (Gagne, McEwan) gave the Reds some life, cutting the deficit in half at 11:14, but Flip Rydstrom ended the comeback hope with an empty net marker with 45 seconds remaining. 

- The Reds got Gagne back from his suspension but were missing Outhouse, Boland, Phelan, Gilmour, Gatenby, and Rassell. They also lost both Connor Hall early in the game and Austen Keating in the 2nd period, neither of whom returned. This meant UNB finished the game with only eight forwards and four defencemen.

- Even with the lack of available bodies, the Reds out-shot the Panthers 31-20 on the night.

- The difference in the game might have been UNB's inability to score on any of their eight power play opportunities, which wasn't necessarily surprising given six of the guys who were/got injured get significant minutes with the man advantage. 

- The loss was the first in 16 games against UPEI, dating back to a 3-2 loss in January 2018.

- It is the first time since January 12th, 2002 UNB has failed to score at least two goals in a game against the Panthers. They had done so in each of the last 99 matchups between the two. 

- While losing the last game before an extended break always leaves a sour taste, the fact of the matter is the Reds have won 16 out of their first 18 regular season games for the first time since going 18-0-0 in 2009-2010. 

- With a 16-2-0 record UNB is well positioned to capture a 14th consecutive regular season title. The current standings, with all teams having played 18 games, look like this:

UNB = 32 points

St. FX = 25

Dalhousie = 19

UPEI = 19

Saint Mary's = 16

Acadia = 12

Moncton = 11

- The biggest key over the break will to be to get as many players healthy as possible. Plus, they still have three open roster spots to work with for possible reinforcements should the right opportunity arise. 

- As most have probably heard my now, the 2021 FISU Winter Universiade, which were slated to be held from December 11th-21st in Lucerne, Switzerland, have been cancelled due to COVID concerns. This impacts a number of Reds as head coach Gardiner MacDougall, Tyler Boland, Austen Keating, Samuel Dove-McFalls, Joe Gatenby, and Rylan Parenteau were all picked to represent Canada. Additionally, women's head coach Sarah Hilworth and goaltender Kendra Woodland had been named to the women's squad.

- UNB is now off until Thursday, December 30th when they host the McGill Redbirds in the 2021 Pete Kelly Cup. Game time is 7PM.


Saturday, November 27, 2021

Gutsy Win Caps Perfect Weekend

An already-undermanned University of New Brunswick Reds squad saw two more of their key players sustain injuries and not return, yet they endured for a gritty, hard-earned 4-1 victory over the Saint Mary's Huskies tonight in Halifax. UNB's 8th consecutive victory pushes their record to 15-1-0 on the season, seven points clear of the idle St. FX X-Men.

It was a costly 1st period for the Reds as they lost both James Phelan and Brady Gilmour to potentially serious injuries within 18 seconds of one another. After not being able to convert on a four minute high sticking penalty given to the Huskies early in the game, Dawson Theede was assessed a five minute major at 12:44 for a hard check on Phelan into the boards/glass that left the Reds player crumpled on the ice. Phelan was eventually able to get to his feet under his own power and was escorted off the ice with some help. Only 18 seconds into the lengthy man advantage the Reds were dealt another blow when Brady Gilmour got tangled up with a defender and appeared to get his left leg twisted under him as he fell to the ice. He attempted to get up but immediately collapsed to the ice in obvious discomfort. After laying on the ice for a couple of minutes he was helped off the ice, but clearly was avoiding putting any weight on his leg. The period was almost a complete disaster for the Reds when they failed to score on the major penalty, but only four seconds after it expired Joe Gatenby (Landry, Guay) took a cross-ice pass and one-timed a low shot back against the grain and into the far corner. The goal came at 17:48 and was the only marker of the period as UNB out-shot SMU 9-5.

The rest of the game's goals came in the middle period. Perhaps the turning point came in the early minutes when UNB was given a too many men on the ice penalty at 3:09. The Huskies came close to evening the score when they hit the post behind Rylan Parenteau, but with the power play winding down the Reds forced a turnover in the neutral zone and transitioned the puck up the ice to Samuel Dove-McFalls, who just came off the bench. The captain had a step on the defence and despite being hounded from behind, he was able to to go forehand to backhand and slide the puck under Matthew Welsh for the Reds second goal of the night at 5:10. The Huskies cut into the lead seven seconds into their third straight power play of the period - and fourth straight in the game - when Andrew Coxhead tucked the puck in from in tight at the 10:00 mark. The momentum proved to be short lived, however. Just 48 seconds later Austen Keating shook free from a defender behind the net, came out front, and while falling to ice, swung a pass across the slot right on the tape of Nicolas Guay, who found the back of the net for a 3-1 lead. Dove-McFalls was awarded the secondary assist on the insurance marker. UNB completed the scoring at 14:17 when Keating accepted a long Kade Landry pass in the Huskies zone. Dove-McFalls rushed into the zone to create a two-on-one and Keating put the puck on a platter for him with Dove-McFalls putting a wrist shot into the top left corner, sending the water bottle flying. The Reds would take the 4-1 lead into the 3rd period after out-shooting Saint Mary's 11-5 in the period. 

With UNB utilizing a short bench all night one might have expected the Huskies to have a strong final twenty minutes against a tired Reds team. That did not prove to be the case as UNB was clearly the better team in the 3rd period, out-shooting SMU 16-4 and being in control throughout, leaving little doubt as to the outcome. 

- The shots in the game were 36-14 for UNB.

- The Reds were missing Noah Carroll, Benjamin Gagne, Tyler Boland, and Griffen Outhouse. They began the game with only 16 skaters and ,after the early injuries, played the rest of the night with only 14 skaters - four short of a full line-up.

- UNB was 0 for 6 on the power play. SMU was 1 for 5. 

- The Reds did struggle on face-offs all night, only winning 26 out of 61. Dove-McFalls was a workhorse, taking 29 draws and winning 15 of them.

- While we mentioned last night UNB's recent struggles in Wolfville, surprisingly the opposite has been the case for the Reds in Halifax, especially at the Huskies new home. UNB has now posted eight straight road wins over SMU. This includes a 4-0-0 mark at the new Dauphinee Centre, where the Reds have out-scored the Huskies 26-6.  

- UNB has given up two or fewer goals in all but one game this season - their lone loss, 4-3 to St. FX on October 30th. 

- It was a fruitful night on the out of town scoreboard as the lower ranked team won each of the other two games on the docket. UPEI got a late power play goal to upend Dalhousie 4-3 on the island and Acadia moved past Moncton and into the final playoff spot with a crucial 4-3 road win. 

- Not only is UNB seven points up on the second place X-Men, they are now 15 points ahead of the 3rd place teams (SMU, UPEI, Dalhousie), meaning they have essentially already clinched a first round playoff bye.

- The final home game of the first half comes next Friday and it's an important one as it is the 5th Annual Teddy Bear Toss against the Universite de Moncton Aigles Bleus. Bring your new or gently used stuffed toys and throw them on the ice after UNB's first goal. If over 1500 stuffies  are collected ticket holders will receive 40% off their bill at the Snooty Fox directly after the game. Game time is 7PM.


Friday, November 26, 2021

Reds Pick Up Road Win

The #1 ranked University of New Brunswick Reds played a solid road game and were rewarded with a 5-1 victory over the now-last place Acadia Axemen tonight in Wolfville. The Reds run their record on the season to 14-1-0, five points ahead of the second place St. FX X-Men with two games in hand.

The Reds have done an exceptional job so far this season and getting on the board first, and that was the case again tonight as they struck for a pair of goals in an entertaining, fast-paced opening twenty minutes. At 10:43, just after an Axemen penalty expired, Joe Gatenby threw the puck from the blue line towards the goal. The puck was blocked in front, but James Phelan located the loose puck in the slot and slid it past Logan Flodell. Adam McCormick also picked up an assist on the game's opening goal. The Axemen had a chance to respond when they received a power play opportunity late in the period, however it was the penalty killing unit that came through to extend the lead. Isaac Nurse took the puck from behind his own net the and went the length of the ice, putting a sharp angled shot on Flodell that dropped in behind the netminder. Samuel Dove-McFalls jumped on the loose puck and put it in. Connor Hall was awarded the secondary assist on UNB's second shorthanded goal of the season. The period would end 2-0 with each team generating 14 shots on goal.

The Reds opened the 1st period with 2:10 of power play time due to a double minor for high-sticking given to Acadia's Nick Deakin-Poot towards the end of the 1st period and it only took them 31 seconds to convert. Austen Keating got the puck along the goal line at the side of the net and his pass out to Phelan in the slot was fanned on. Unfortunately for Acadia, it went right to Nicolas Guay and he slapped the puck into the top of the net. The Axemen got that one back at 11:10, responding with an Eric Henderson power play goal to pull back within 3-1, which is how it would remain for the remainder of the period. Shots were 13-9 for UNB in the frame. 

Holding a two goal lead, the Reds did a good job limiting scoring chances over the final twenty minutes. Acadia had their chance when Hall and Phelan took penalties at 12:32 and 13:09 of the period, giving their league-leading power play a golden opportunity to get the Axemen back in the game. It was the Reds league-leading penalty kill that came out on top in this matchup though, killing off both penalties without too much trouble. Phelan then turned the lights out on the home side with an empty net goal - from below his own goal line nonetheless - with 24 seconds remaining. Jason Willms (MacDougall, McEwan) poured it on with another goal with less than a second left to make it a 5-1 final.  

- Shots in the 3rd period 11-10 for Acadia. UNB held a 37-34 advantage in the game.

- UNB was without Noah Carroll, who was serving the second game of his two game suspension stemming from his fight last weekend against St. FX, and Benjamin Gagne, who was given a three game suspension after a "Standards of Conduct Review" following the game against Dalhousie last Saturday. The biggest question coming out of the game might be the status of Tyler Boland, who left early in the first period and never returned. 

- UNB went 1 for 5 on the power play. Acadia was 1 for 6. 

- Rylan Parenteau improved his stat line on the season to 8-0-0 with a ridiculous 0.99 GAA and 0.955 save percentage. 

- The Reds won 35 out of 59 face-offs. Phelan was 16 out of 21 in the circle to lead the way.

- Phelan was named the player of the game with Acadia's Peyton Hoyt being the second star and Parenteau the third. 

- UNB has now given up only 20 goals on the season. Everyone else in the conference has surrendered between 50 (Saint Mary's) and 66 (Acadia) goals. 

- The Reds have had their fair share of struggles in Wolfville prior to the Christmas break over the last decade plus. After losing nine straight times in that situation between 2010 and 2017 they won three in a row, before then dropping both contests in 2019. Even with tonight's win, UNB is only 4-7-4 in their last 15 pre-Christmas games in Wolfville. 

- In other AUS action tonight, the St. FX X-Men turned the tables on the UPEI Panthers. After being embarrassed 9-1 two weeks ago, the X-Men exploded for seven 2nd period goals on route to a 8-3 win in Antigonish. The other game produced an upset with Moncton going into Halifax and besting the Saint Mary's Huskies 5-3.

- UNB is back at it tomorrow night against Saint Mary's, who will no doubt be in a sour mood and looking to salvage their weekend. Game time is 7PM. As always, if you can't be there in person you can watch on AUStv.ca.


Sunday, November 21, 2021

Winning Streak Hits Six

The U Sports #1 ranked University of New Brunswick Reds scored two goals in each period and Rylan Parenteau notched his second shutout of the season as they rolled to a 6-0 victory over the visiting Dalhousie Tigers in a rare Saturday afternoon game. UNB is now 13-1-0 on the season, five points clear of second place. 

The Reds opened the scoring at 6:34 of the opening period when Kade Landry cut from the side boards to the slot and sent a deft backhanded pass to Brady Gilmour at the bottom of the face-off circle that Gilmour one timed past Tigers goalie Connor Hicks. James Phelan also got a helper on the goal. Samuel Dove-McFalls then made it a 2-0 game at 15:38, taking a MacAuley Carson pass from below the goal line out front and making a quick move from his forehand to backhand to put the puck into the far side of the net. Mark Rassell continued to make an impact since his return from injury with the other assist on the marker. The period would end with UNB holding a 2-0 lead while out-shooting the Tigers 10-3.

The home side turned it up a notch in the 2nd period, holding a 20-3 advantage in shots on goal and doubling their lead. At 3:27 Rassell (Willms, Carson) was somehow left all alone in front of the Tigers net with no one within 10 feet of him. Jason Willms fired a pass from the corner to the former WHL 50 goal scorer and the sniper made no mistake to push the lead to 3-0. Then, at 12:03 while on the power play, Landry walked the blue line before passing down to Nicolas Guay at the top of the right face-off circle. Guay then bumped the puck over to Phelan in the high slot for a quick slap shot that beat Hicks glove side. 

Entering the 3rd period with a 4-0 lead the final twenty minutes were merely a formality. It was the Tigers best period of the game, putting 11 shots towards Rylan Parenteau (to the Reds 12), and getting a few decent scoring chances, but it was UNB scoring two goals, both courtesy Isaac Nurse. At 7:55 Nurse (Phelan, Gilmour) speared at a loose puck that was sitting in the crease between Hicks legs to make it 5-0. He then followed up the greasy goal with one that showed off his skill, outracing a defender for the puck at the Tigers blueline and then sniping the puck into the top right corner. The final goal of the game came at 18:02 and was assisted by Joe Gatenby and Gilmour.

- Shots in the game were 42-17 for the Reds.

- Benjamin Gagne was back in the line-up on defence as Noah Carroll serves his suspension for being assessed a fighting major against St. FX.

- UNB was 1 for 6 on the power play. Dalhousie was 0 for 2.

- The Reds won 32 out of 59 face-offs with Dove-McFalls (13 out of 22) having the best day at the dot. 

- Phelan was the player of the game. Landry was second star and Gilmour was third.

- Rylan Parenteau now has 11 career shut-outs, which moves him past Reg Bourcier for second in school history. He only trails Travis Fullerton, who had 21 over his five year career.

- This is the first time UNB has won 13 out of their first 14 games since going 14-0-0 to begin the 2009-2010 season.

- Elsewhere around the conference, St. FX rebounded to pick up a 4-2 road win in Moncton and Saint Mary's won their third straight game with a decisive 6-1 win in Wolfville over Acadia. 

- The Reds are back on the road next weekend with games against Acadia on Friday night and Saint Mary's the following evening. Game time for both is 7PM and will be available on AUStv.ca.


Saturday, November 20, 2021

3rd Period Barrage Lifts Reds

The #1 ranked University of New Brunswick Reds broke open a close game with four goals in the 3rd period to pull away from the rival St. FX X-Men in what was a chippy and intense 6-2 victory tonight at the AUC. The 12-1-0 Reds have now opened up a five point lead over the second place X-Men with a game in hand. 

The start couldn't have been any better for the Reds as they grabbed a 1-0 lead before much of the large crowd, who are required to show proof of vaccination at the door, even had a chance to get into the rink. Tyler Boland got ahold of the puck behind the goal and quickly fed Nicolas Guay out front, who wasted no time one timing it past Joseph Raaymakers. Connor Hall also picked up an assist on the goal, which came only 42 seconds into the game. UNB carried the momentum throughout the period, out-shooting the X-Men 13-5, but the game would head into the intermission tied as the AUS scoring leader Liam Hawel pounced on a turnover in front of the net and beat a screened Rylan Parenteau with a wrist shot. 

It appeared the Reds were playing with fire when they handed the X-Men's dangerous power play their third opportunity of the game just over a minute into the 2nd period. However, it was Austen Keating forcing a turnover in the corner of the offensive zone and then finding James Phelan, who put the puck off the far post and in for UNB's first shorthanded goal of the season. This was the only goal of a more evenly played period with the shots being 8-7 in favour of the Reds. 

UNB put the game out of reach in the first 8+ minutes of the 3rd period, connecting three times to turn a nail-biter into a laugher. At 3:24 Keating received a Connor Hall pass in front of the visitors bench, drew three defenders to him as he skated deep into X-Men territory, and then sent a pretty backhand pass back to Guay, who was all alone in the slot and had a wide open net that he didn't miss. Only 55 seconds later Mark Rassell (Gatenby, Dove-McFalls) - returning to the line-up after missing ten games - brought the puck out from behind the goal and used his long reach to slide it past Raaymakers for his first goal of the season . Tyler Boland (Guay, Phelan) capped the outburst with a power play goal at 8:16, just getting enough of his stick on the puck at the side of the net to get it over the goal line. The Reds would pile it on with another power play goal at 14:48 when Brady Gilmour (Dove-McFalls, Rassell) deposited the puck during a scramble in front of the net. The game had been physical and chippy from the opening puck drop and it finally boiled over at the 17:32 mark after Noah Carroll took exception to a hit by William Bower. The two started jawing at each other before dropping the gloves and engaging in one of the better fights you will see in the AUS with both combatants throwing some solid punches before being broken up by the refs. Meanwhile, some of the other players who were standing around during the fight started having some words. Connor Hall saw this and skated over and cross-checked a St. FX player, which led to more fireworks. After it was all said and done the Reds were down two men for a full two minutes. On the ensuing 5-on-3 power play Zack Trott scored to make it 6-2 at the 18:09 mark. UNB would kill off the other penalty and the rest of the game was played without incident. Shots in the period were 11-4 for the Reds.     

- UNB got the services of both Mark Rassell and Rylan Parenteau back tonight. Benjamin Gagne was the lone scratch while Tanner Somers was the back-up goalie with Griffen Outhouse still injured.

- Shots were 32-16 for the Reds.

- UNB was 2 for 5 on the power play. The X-Men went 1 for 8.

- The Reds won 38 out of 58 face-offs. Both Dove-McFalls (16 out of 23) and Phelan (14 out of 18) had stand-out nights.

- Guay was named the player of the game for a second straight time. Boland and Rassell were the other two stars.

- Brady Gilmour was shaken up late in the 1st period after losing his balance and going hard into the end boards back first. After laying on the ice momentarily he was able to get up and skate off under his own power.

- Attendance was a solid 2365.

- Carroll will have a suspension coming his way. He will get at least one game for the fighting major and will most likely get more as he was also assessed an instigating penalty.

- As previously mentioned, X-Men head coach Brad Peddle missed the game due to a one game suspension he was given after last weekend's game against UPEI. 

- This was St. FX's first game at the AUC since a 6-2 loss on January 25th, 2020 - a span of 665 days.

- In fact, things have not gone well for the X-Men in Fredericton in recent years. Since the beginning of the 2018-2019 season they are now 0-7-0  and have been outscored 47-12 at the Aitken Centre. They haven't held UNB below five goals in any of those games. 

- In other AUS action tonight it was Moncton picking up a much needed 5-3 home win over Dalhousie and Saint Mary's going on the road to defeat UPEI 4-1. 

- UNB is back at home tomorrow afternoon against the Dalhousie Tigers. Please note that game time is scheduled for 4PM.