Tuesday, January 22, 2019

U Sports Top Ten (#13): Bears Gaining Ground

The University of New Brunswick Reds are again the number one ranked team in the country, but the defending University Cup champions from Alberta are not far behind.

In the latest top ten rankings, which were released earlier today, UNB (20-1-3) garnered 14 out of the 15 first place media votes (and were second on the other ballot) for 149 points to go along with 135 ELO points for a total of 284. The Golden Bears (18-3-1) earned the other first place media vote - and 130 media points - and took the top spot in the ELO rankings with 150 points for a combined total of 280. The Saskatchewan Huskies (19-3-0) had 244 total points to place third in the rankings.

The rest of the top ten is made up of the Ottawa Gee-Gees (17-1-4, 198 points), Saint Mary's Huskies (16-7-1, 189), McGill Redmen (14-5-4, 116), Calgary Dinos (14-6-2, 110), Brock Badgers (15-5-2, 107), Queen's Gaels (15-6-0, 51), and Ryerson Rams (15-5-2, 37).

The St. FX X-Men (10 points) and Moncton Aigles Bleus (4) were among five teams that received honourable mention.

Friday, January 18, 2019

The Goals Keep Coming

After putting ten goals on the board on Wednesday, the University of New Brunswick Reds kept up their torrid offensive pace tonight in Charlottetown, blasting the UPEI Panthers 9-4 in a wide-open, back and forth game. UNB improves to 20-1-3 on the season and have now clinched a 1st round playoff bye. The Panthers fall to 11-9-2 and remain in 5th place, missing out an opportunity to jump up into 3rd.

UPEI actually opened the scoring in this one with Gabe Guertler putting the puck into a tight spot just above Alex Dubeau's left shoulder and into the top corner at 7:13. Tyler Boland (Gazzola, LeBlanc) knotted the game at 13:09 when a shot from the point trickled down to the goal and Boland got just enough on the puck to sneak it through Matt Mancina's legs. With his assist, 5th year defenceman Randy Gazzola reached a milestone as it marked his 100th career point. The Reds would then take their first lead of the night in the final minute of the period. Mark Rassell (Carroll, Goulet) raced down the left side of the offensive zone to track down a loose puck and beat Mancina from a sharp angle. The goal came with 54 seconds remaining in the period and made it a 2-1 game heading into intermission. UNB out-shot UPEI 19-16 in the frame.

It didn't take long for the Reds to extend their lead in the 2nd period. After receiving a spin-o-rama pass from Stephen Anderson, Chris Clapperton backhanded the puck in at the side of the net just 61 seconds into the period. Gazzola picked up his second assist of the night on the goal. After the goal the two teams traded a number of high quality chances back and forth, but neither could find the back of the net until 13:37 when Boland (Bennett, Gazzola) got his second of the night, taking a pass from Bennett just as he entered the Panthers zone and having all day to skate in and wrist a shot into the top corner. This set off a flurry of goals as the two teams would trade four more goals in the next 3:59. Rassell one-timed a James McEwan rebound 35 seconds after the Boland goal to push the lead to 5-1 only to see Brett Andrews counter for the Panthers 69 seconds after that. It only took UNB 24 seconds to respond as Alexandre Goulet (Rassell, Boudens), who has had a number of quality chances the last couple of games with nothing to show for it, finally getting one to go, snapping the puck in as he cut across the slot at 15:45. Finally, Luke Kirwan was able to power a slap shot between Dubeau's legs at 17:36. The goal capped a wild four minutes and cut the deficit to 6-3, which is how the 2nd period would end. Shots in the period were 17-8 for UNB.

The Reds would add a trio of goals in the 3rd period. At 6:46 Goulet took a hit just inside the Panthers blue line to get the puck to Stephen Anderson, who beat Mancina with a wicked wrists hot short-side. Just under five minutes later Rassell (McEwan, LeBlanc) completed his hat-trick, getting the puck all alone down low. He made a quick move to his right before flipping the puck up and over Mancina's left pad to make it 8-3. Then, at 15:11, James McEwan (Gatenby) used his speed to cut through the neutral zone before going wide around a defenceman down the right side and then cut across the front of the net and roofed the puck. The highlight reel goal pushed the lead to 9-3. The final goal of the night came off the stick of Kirwan at 18:05 as he put the puck past a down and out Dubeau, who had a pile of players in his crease. The Panthers almost added another one shortly afterwards, but Dubeau made his second ridiculous glove save of the night to put an exclamation point on the victory. UPEI out-shot UNB 15-5 in the period despite getting out-scored 3-1.

- The Reds went with the same line-up as Wednesday night as Tristan Pomerleau, Samuel Dove-McFalls, and Patrick Watling were the scratches.

- Shots in the game were 41-39 for UNB. The 39 shots against mark a season-high while they tied a season-high by surrendering four goals.

- There weren't many power plays in the game, which is surprising for a game played on the island. UNB went 0 for 1 and UPEI went 0 for 2.

- UNB won 47 out of 77 face-offs. Mark Simpson won 18 out of 23.

- Attendance was 773.

- While he made a number of big saves, Dubeau also had some luck on his side. The Panthers hit the post at least three times, including twice within seconds of one another.

- Matthew Boucher had a game-high six shots on goal with a couple of really good looks, but couldn't buy a goal tonight.

- Gazzola is the 3rd Reds player to hit 100 career regular season points this season, joining Cameron Brace and Chris Clapperton.

- The Reds have now taken exactly 1000 shots on goal this season for an average of 41.9 per game, far and away the most in the league. The next closest team is Saint Mary's with 846 shots on goal (35.25 per game).

- This is the 12th straight season UNB has won at least 20 games. It is the 14th consecutive year they have earned a first round playoff bye.

- Incredibly, Mark Simpson did not register a point in either of the last two games. Oliver Cooper was also held off the scoresheet in both games. Meanwhile, their teammates combined for 19 goals and 32 assists in those games.

- The last time UNB scored 19 goals over a two game span was the opening two games of the 2009/2010 season - and it was against the same two teams. They beat UPEI 10-0 and Moncton 9-3 that year.

- This is the most goals UNB has scored on the road against UPEI since a wild 13-9 win on January 26th, 1980.

- In other conference action tonight, the Acadia Axemen got a much needed win with a 5-0 whitewash of the St. FX X-Men in Wolfville. The Axemen, who broke a six game losing streak, out-shot the X-Men 51-20 on the night, including 41-9 through 40 minutes. In Halifax, the Saint Mary's Huskies blanked the Dalhousie Tigers 4-0.

- UNB is off tomorrow night. They are back to Nova Scotia next weekend to face Dalhousie on Friday night and St. FX on Saturday night. Both games are scheduled for a 7PM start and can be seen at www.AUStv.ca.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Domination

Admittedly, the University of New Brunswick Reds have not been playing their best hockey so far this month. Well, they took out that frustration this evening. The Reds received goals from ten different players in a 10-0 thrashing of the the visiting Universite de Moncton Aigles Bleus in the 27th annual Mark Jeffrey Memorial Game tonight at the AUC. UNB's emphatic victory puts them at 19-1-3 on the season, ten points up on 2nd place Saint Mary's. The Aigles Bleus drop to 11-9-3 and fall into a tie for 3rd place with the 11-8-3 St. FX X-Men.

The game got off to a tentative start with only three total shots on goal through the first seven minutes. The action then began to really pick up and it was all UNB. The Reds were given their first power play of the night at the 8:00 mark and it only took 45 seconds for them to cash in with Kris Bennett (Boland, Clapperton) redirecting a pass at the side of the net past goaltender Etienne Montpetit, who was making his first career start at the Aitken Centre. Montpetit was the primary reason the Aigles Bleus upset the Reds 4-3 in Moncton back in the fall, but it was not his - or his team's - night tonight. Matthew Boucher (Clapperton, McIvor) finished off a 2-on-0 shorthanded rush at 13:47 to make it 2-0 and then a pair of goals late in the period - by Mark Rassell (Gazzola) from the high slot at 18:45 and by Joe Gatenby (Bennett, Murphy) 29 seconds later on an off-balance wrist shot from near the Moncton bench - essentially ended the game before the 1st period was over. Shots in the period were 15-6 for UNB and Montpetit was done after only twenty minutes.

The Reds didn't let up with back-up goalie Alexi Thibaudeau in net to start the 2nd period, matching their 4 goals and 15 shots from the 1st period in less than 13 minutes of action. The goals came from Marcus McIvor (Clapperton, Anderson), with his first of the season on a one-timer at 5:47, Cameron Brace (LeBlanc, Bennett) on an absolutely filthy deke on a breakaway at 9:16, a floater by Stephen Anderson (Goulet, Rassell) at 11:11, and Chris Clapperton (Boland, Gazzola) at 12:57. There was no more scoring in the period as the Reds took an 8-0 lead into intermission. Shots favoured UNB 22-7.

With the game well out of reach tempers started to rise in the 3rd. After Matt Boudens (Boucher, Dubeau) scored at 8:40 to make it 9-0 a dust-up followed behind the Moncton net that led to off-setting penalties. Two minutes later Boudens once again found himself in the middle of a scrum and he was the recipient of at least three blatant, intentional spears from Maxime St-Cyr, the nations leading goal scorer. Boudens was given a two minute roughing penalty while St-Cyr was assessed a five minute match penalty. On the ensuing three minute power play Randy Gazzola (Boudens, LeBlanc) beat Thibaudeau with a wrist shot from the hashmarks to get UNB into double digits on the night. For good measure, Boudens picked up a double minor late in the period - his 5th and 6th minor penalties of the game - to cap a productive 1 goal, 1 assist, 12 PIM game. UNB out-shot Moncton 15-4 in the period.

- Tristan Pomerleau (lower body), Samuel Dove-McFalls (upper body) and Patrick Watling were out of the line-up tonight.

- Shots in the game were 52-17 for UNB.

- While he wasn't tested much, Alex Dubeau came up with a big save on a Moncton breakaway late in the game to preserve his first shutout of the season. He has now won his last seven decisions and currently leads the league in both goals against average (1.62) and save percentage (0.934).

- UNB went 2 for 4 on the power play. Their penalty killers rebounded from a tough game against St. FX, killing off all six on Moncton's opportunities and contributing a shorthanded goal.

- Among a number of standout performances tonight, Chris Clapperton (1 goal, 3 assists, +3) was named the game's first star. Bennett (3 points, +3) and Gazzola (3 points, game high +4) were the other two stars.

- 16 different players registered points.

- UNB won 51 out of 85 face-offs. Alexandre Goulet was the stand-out with 18 wins in 23 chances. James McEwan also had a good night, winning 10 out of 16.

- Before the game 5th year defenceman Randy Gazzola was presented with the Mark Jeffrey Memorial Award, which is regarded as the most prestigious award given out each season to a UNB hockey player.

- Attendance was 2147.

- Montpetit entered the game tied for the conference lead with a 0.929 save percentage.

- This is the first time UNB has scored at least 10 goals in a game since hanging 11 on St. Thomas on November 4th, 2015.

- It is their biggest margin of victory since beating the Nipissing Lakers 11-1 in an exhibition game on September 19th, 2014.

- This also ties for the biggest margin of victory UNB has ever had under Gardiner MacDougall. This is the 4th time he has led them to a 10 goal victory.

- It is their biggest shutout win since opening the 2009 regular season with a 10-0 whitewashing of UPEI.

- The only other game in the AUS tonight saw Saint Mary's defeat St. FX  in Halifax by a 4-3 score in overtime.

- The Reds are back on the road for their next three games, including this Friday in Charlottetown against the UPEI Panthers for their only game of the weekend. Game time is 7PM and it can be viewed at www.AUStv.ca. Their next home game is not until Saturday, February 2nd against those same Panthers.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

X-Men Hand Reds First Loss

The #1 ranked University of New Brunswick Reds fell behind early and were never able to recover as they were downed 4-2 by the St. FX X-Men tonight in Antigonish. It was the first regulation loss of the season for the 18-1-3 Reds. The X-Men are now 11-8-2 and remain tied for 3rd place with the UPEI Panthers.

The X-Men used a familiar recipe to defeat the Reds, one we have witnessed a number of times in recent years.

- Score the first goal of the game and force UNB to play catch-up? Check. Matthew Graham scored just 1:17 into the game and Holden Cook doubled the lead four minutes later.

- Quickly answer a UNB goal? Check. A Kris Bennett (Gazzola, LeBlanc) power play goal at 9:01 of the 2nd period got the Reds on the board and made it 3-1, but Bryson Cianfrone snuffed out any potential momentum and restored the X-Men's three goal advantage 4:06 later.

- Get out-shot? Check. After out-shooting the Reds 10-9 in the 1st period the X-Men were out-shot 12-5 in the 2nd period and 8-1 in the 3rd period. Shots were 29-16 for UNB in the game.

- Win the special teams battle? Check. The X-Men connected three times in five opportunities against a Reds penalty kill that had only surrendered eight power play goals all year entering the game. Meanwhile, UNB went 1 for 6 with the man advantage, coming up empty on all four of their chances in the 3rd period (including what turned into a 6-on-3 advantage in the final minutes) as they tried to get back into the game.

- Win the goaltending battle in decisive fashion? Check. Chase Marchand shook off a couple of recent subpar outings against UNB and looked every bit like the reigning AUS MVP, stopping 27 out of the first 28 shots sent his way before Matthew Boucher (Brace, Gazzola) got one by him with only 21 seconds left in the game. At the other end of the ice Rylan Parenteau stopped only 12 out of 16 shots as he suffered his first career regulation loss (18-1-1).

- UNB will now look to rebound on Wednesday night when they host the Moncton Aigles Bleus in the 27th annual Mark Jeffrey Memorial Game. Game time is 7PM.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Reds Slip Past Tigers

The 1st place University of New Brunswick Reds had their hands full all night against the last place Dalhousie Tigers, but were able to escape with a 3-1 victory tonight in Halifax. UNB moves to 18-0-3 on the season while the Tigers are now 6-15-0.

- Mark Simpson (Gatenby, Bennett) opened the scoring 16:31 into the game. A point shot deflected off of something in front of the net and came out to Simpson, who was all alone at the opposite face-off circle. The lanky centre quickly converted the rebound into a wide open net for his 9th goal of the season.

- At 10:09 of the 2nd period the Tigers knotted the game when defenceman Evan Scott got the puck just as he skated into the offensive zone and ripped a wrist shot past Alex Dubeau.

- For the second time this season UNB found itself in a tight game late against the Tigers and once again they got the job done in the final twenty minutes. Just 53 seconds into the 3rd period the line of Matthew Boucher, Alexandre Goulet, and Kris Bennett were persistent in the Tigers zone, generating lots of pressure and scoring chances. After Connor Hicks came up with a couple of big saves Boucher was finally able to beat the Tigers goaltender after a scramble in the slot.

- Each team came up empty on back to back power play chances with UNB receiving opportunities at 6:13 and 8:14, and the Tigers at 13:39 and 15:50, before Stephen Anderson (Clapperton, Boland) finally gave the Reds some breathing room by closing out the scoring with an empty net goal with 1:54 remaining.

- Tristan Pomerleau, Samuel Dove-McFalls, and James McEwan were out of the line-up.

- According to the box score the shots were 65-28 for UNB with period totals of 22-11, 24-10, and 19-7. It is highly unlikely those numbers are correct as there is no way there were that many shots in the game.

- UNB had a rare off-night on the power play, coming up empty on four chances. However, their penalty kill was once again exceptional, snuffing out all six of the Dalhousie's opportunities.

- Alex Dubeau picked up his 9th win of the season in goal.

- The Reds won 37 out of 68 face-offs. Simpson was 18 out of 28 on the night.

- Hicks, Simpson, and Scott were named the game's three stars.

- Attendance was 222.

- With his 3rd period assist, Christopher Clapperton reached 100 career regular season points (41 goals, 59 assists). It comes in only his 77th game.

- This is UNB's 31st straight win over the Tigers. They haven't allowed more than one goal in any of the last seven games.

- In other AUS action tonight the St. FX X-Men doubled the UPEI Panthers 6-3 in Antigonish and the Moncton Aigles Bleus shutout the Acadia Axemen 2-0 in Wolfville.

- The Reds continue to their road trip tomorrow night with a game against St. FX. Game time is 7PM.