Saturday, October 19, 2019

Reds Survive Scare

The visiting Dalhousie Tigers played the defending National Champion University of New Brunswick Reds even through 65 minutes of play, but the home side ultimately prevailed with a 4-3 shootout victory tonight at the Aitken Centre. UNB moves to 5-1-0 after their first trip through the league this season. The Tigers fall to 2-4-2, picking up an important point in a game they weren't expected to.

The two teams traded goals in each of the three periods with UNB holding three one goal leads only to see Dalhousie tie it up each time. Mark Simpson (McIvor, Goulet) opened the scoring at 9:27 when he got the puck in the right face-off circle with his back to the net, spun around, and beat Connor Hicks on the near side. The Tigers responded at 16:32 with a lucky one. Dillon Boucher's shot was kicked out by Samuel Harvey, but the puck hit the skates of the UNB defenceman coming back towards the net and deflected in. The score would remain 1-1 after twenty minutes of playw ith teh Reds holding a 14-7 advantage in shots.

UNB regained the lead at 6:25 of the 2nd period. Alexandre Goulet dug the puck out from behind the Tigers goal and made a short pass to Mark Rassell at the side of the net. Rassell managed to roof the puck from a sharp angle in tight to make it 2-1. Tristan Pomerleau picked up the other assist on the goal. Dalhousie evened the game once again, this time with a power play goal at 15:42. After UNB had a good chance shorthanded, the Tigers turned the puck back up the ice with Andrew Shewfelt finishing off a nice rush to knot the game at 2, which is how things would stay for the remainder of the period. Shots in the period were 16-7 for the Reds.

Dalhousie had an incredible chance to take the lead in the 3rd period when they picked off an errant clearing pass up the middle of the Reds zone, giving them a 2-on-0 down low. Somehow Harvey kept the puck out with a couple of big stops in quick succession. UNB would grab their third lead of the game with a power play strike at 14:04. After Olivier LeBlanc's point shot went wide Kris Bennett tried to jam the puck in at the side of the net. Hicke denied him, but Patrick Watling was right there to jump on a loose puck at the lip of the crease, giving UNB a 3-2 lead. Clinging on to the lead the Reds would surrender the tying goal with 47 seconds left in regulation and Hicks on the bench for an extra attacker. Shewfelt was all alone in front of the net when he received a pass out of the corner and made no mistake in putting it off the iron and in for his second of the night, this one tying the game 3-3. Shots favoured UNB 13-4 in the period.

The 3-on-3 overtime period was dominated by the Reds, who out-shot the Tigers 10-2 and had numerous glorious chances to end the game over the five minutes. However, Hicks held the fort to send the game to a shootout. In the shootout Goulet was up first and he used his patented move - coming in wide, cutting across the top of the crease, and patiently waiting until the goalie goes down before putting the puck under the cross bar - to get UNB on the board. After Connor Welsh came up empty on the Tigers first attempt Matthew Boucher put the pressure on when he beat Hicks with a quick snap shot. Needing a goal to stay alive Aiden Jamieson's deke attempt was easily snuffed out by Harvey to give UNB a tougher-than-expected 4-3 win.

- UNB went with the same line-up as last night as Benjamin Gagne was the lone scratch.

- Shots in the game were 53-20 for the Reds.

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

- The Reds dominated the face-off dot, winning 46 out of 77 face-offs. Mark Simpson had a big night, going 19 out of 25.

- Attendance was 1984.

- The game's three stars were 1) Alexandre Goulet 2) Connor Hicks 3) Matthew Boucher.

- Before the game Kris Bennett was awarded the annual Rod Pike Memorial Scholarship, which is given to the player "who has special leadership abilities, a high compete level, and goes the extra mile for the team and his teammates."

- In his last four games against UNB, Hicks has faced a whopping 231 shots. He has turned aside 219 of them for a sparkling 0.948 save percentage.

- This is UNB's 34th straight win over Dalhousie. However, this is only the third game in that span to go beyond regulation.

- It is their 27th consecutive victory over the Tigers at the AUC.

- In other AUS action tonight, the first place Acadia Axemen maintained their two point lead over UNB (albeit having played one extra game) with a 4-3 home victory over the UPEI Panthers. Meanwhile, in Moncton the Aigles Bleus handed the St. FX X-Men their second loss of the weekend with a 6-3 decision.

- The Reds are on the road next weekend for rematches against this weekend's opponents. They are in Antigonish on Friday night to face St. FX and then travel to Halifax to take on Dalhousie the next evening. Game time for both is slated for 7PM.

Friday, October 18, 2019

Big 1st Period Propels Reds

The University of New Brunswick Reds scored four times in a dominant opening period on their way to a 6-3 victory over their rival St. FX X-Men before a large crowd tonight at the AUC. UNB improves to 4-1-0 on the season while the X-Men suffer their first loss in regulation, dropping to 3-1-1.

The Reds got off to a quick start, taking advantage of a couple of fortunate bounces to build a 2-0 lead just over five minutes into the game. Kris Bennett got the scoring started at 3:12 when Joe Gatenby skied the puck from his own end, over the X-Men defencemen, and had it land in the slot. Instead of the puck hitting the ice and rolling harmlessly toward the net, it had some english on it and spun back towards the blue line where Bennett almost overskated it, but was able to corral it and go in all alone on Joseph Raaymakers, beating the freshman goalie with a quick deke to make it 1-0. The lead was extended at 5:23 thanks to another fortuitous bounce after Matt Murphy (LeBlanc) let a wrist shot go from along the boards just inside the blue line. Raaymakers attempted to blocker the puck into the corner, but instead he sent it straight up in the air, eventually landing behind him in his crease and rolling into the net. Murphy was also involved in UNB's third goal at 13:45. Oliver Cooper picked up the rebound off of a Murphy point shot and tried a wrap around. While his shot was stopped, Raaymakers wasn't able to hold the post with his left leg and James McEwan pounced on the loose puck, jamming it in. Less than a minute later St. FX did what they tend to do when getting blown out, resorting to physical play and cheap shots. In this case it was Lane Cormier hitting Patrick Watling late and from behind in front of the UNB bench. It was the beginning of a rough night for Watling, who was also the victim of a hit to the head later in the game. In the ensuing skirmish Reagan Spears lived up to his name, spearing Joe Gatenby and earning a four minute double minor penalty. The extended power play meant UNB had a golden chance to put the game away early, but it was St. FX getting on the board. Two X-Men forced a turnover at their own blue line, which sent Matthew Graham away on a shorthanded breakaway. Graham snapped a shot past Rylan Parenteau's blocker to cut the lead to 3-1 at 15:32. The momentum proved to be short-lived, however. Later in the power play some nice passing got the puck to Matthew Boucher (Rassell, Goulet) in the left face-off circle and he put the puck in the far corner at 17:31 to restore UNB's three goal lead. The Reds would take a 4-1 lead into the intermission, out-shooting the X-Men 19-3 in the process.

The 2nd period saw St. FX use a couple lucky bounces of their own to get back in the game. At 3:41, while on the power play, an uncovered Bryson Cianfrone had the puck ping-pong off of some traffic in the slot right to him at the left of the net. He didn't miss a wide open cage, cutting the lead to 4-2. UNB got that one back at 7:02 thanks to a full two minute 5-on-3 advantage. After failing on their first two attempts at setting up Alexandre Goulet for a one timer the third time proved to be the charm as Goulet (Boland, Anderson) ripped a shot from the bottom of the right face-off circle into the top corner. As is often the case, the X-Men would not go away and at 16:10 they once again made it a two goal game. The goal was similar to Murphy's in that the puck got knocked up into the air and came down near Parenteau's crease. A scramble ensued around the blue paint and it was Anthony Difruscia getting the last touch on the X-Men's third goal of the night, which once again cut the deficit to two. The shots in the period were 10-5 for UNB.

Although the X-Men did not generate much offense in the 3rd period - they were out-shot 9-2 - it wasn't until Matthew Boucher's second power play goal of the night at 13:38 that UNB finally got some breathing room. Boucher got the puck in almost the exact same spot as is first goal, but instead of going far side he put the puck off the near post and in to make it 6-3. An X-Men power play a few minutes later proved to be uneventful and the two teams skated out the UNB victory without any further incidents.

- Mark Simpson was back in the line-up. Benjamin Gagne was the lone scratch.

- The X-Men were missing their two best rookies as both Jeremiah Addison and and Declan Smith were out.

- Shots in the game were 38-10.

- Although two of the goals he allowed were the result of some unfortunate puck luck, Rylan Parenteau seemed to be fighting the puck most of the game. Nonetheless, he improves to 3-0-0 om the young season.

- On the other hand, Joseph Raaymakers - who was rumoured to be a target of UNB's this past summer - settled down nicely after the rough 1st period. The Reds had a number of great chances that he was able to turn aside to keep his team in it.

- UNB was 3 for 7 on the power play, but also gave up a shorthanded goal. The X-Men were 1 for 5.

- The Reds won 39 out of 66 face-offs with Boland (11 of 17) and Samuel Dove-McFalls (9 of 12) leading the way on this night.

- The box score can be found here, but it is full of errors. For example, it has St. FX scoring to tie the game 1-1. In reality they were already down 3-0 when they scored. Hopefully it gets updated/fixed shortly.

- Attendance was 3074, which is exceptional for a game this early in the season. For comparison, they drew 2435 in their second home game last season.

- UNB have out-scored St. FX 35-8 in winning the last five meetings between the two.

- St. FX hasn't had more than 20 shots on goal in any of their last nine games against UNB. They have averaged only 15.1 shots per game in that span.

- It was the second straight game where the Reds blitzed the X-Men right out of the gate. In last year's national semi-final UNB had a 4-0 lead and out-shot St. FX 24-8 in the opening period.

- Elsewhere around the league tonight, Nick Welsh had six assists in Saint Mary's 8-2 road win over the UPEI Panthers and Dalhousie scored a 3-2 overtime decision in Moncton against the Aigles Bleus.

- The Reds are back on home ice tomorrow night when they host the Dalhousie Tigers in the annual Rod Pike Memorial Game. Puck drop is 7PM.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

U Sports Top Ten (#3): Reds Remain 2nd

The Alberta Golden Bears and University of New Brunswick Reds continue to lead the way in the latest men's hockey top ten rankings.

Alberta improved to 4-0-0 on the season with two wins over Saskatchewan in Edmonton so it comes as no shock they stay in the top spot with 1822.19 ELO points. UNB has 1800.64 after two weekend wins of their own.

After the clear-cut top two, there are two clusters of four teams that make up the rest of the top ten.

Ottawa (1686.68) leapfrogged St. FX (1664.62) to move up to third while Carleton (1657.78) and Calgary (1639.38) stayed put at 5th and 6th, respectively.

The rankings are rounded out by Guelph (1594.44), Queen's (1564.39), Ryerson (1561.97), and Saint Mary's (1556.95), who are making their first appearance of the season.

Interestingly, the Acadia Axemen, who lead the conference with a 4-1-0 record and have victories over both UNB and St. FX, are nowhere to be seen while Queen's (2-2-0) and Ryerson (1-1-0) are both ranked.

The Reds and X-Men face each other Friday night at the AUC in the marquee game of the weekend. UNB then hosts Dalhousie the next night. Game time for both is 7PM.

Watling Nabs Weekly Awards

Reds forward Patrick Watling was named both the UNB Reds/Papa John's Pizza male Athlete of the Week and Subway AUS male Athlete of the Week for his efforts in a pair of victories this past weekend.

Watling earned first star honours in UNB's home opening 4-0 win over Moncton on Friday night as he had two goals, including a shorthanded marker, and an assist. He was held off the score sheet, but was a +1, in Saturday's 3-2 road win against UPEI.

The former AHLer is off to a strong start in his 5th year of eligibility, racking up five points through four games.

UNB is at home this weekend for games against St. FX on Friday and Dalhousie on Saturday. It should be noted that the 50/50 pot for Friday night will be starting at $2579 due to a previously unclaimed prize.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Reds Pick Up Tough Win

For the second straight night the University of New Brunswick Reds found themselves in a tight game into the 3rd period. Once again they emerged victorious, hanging on for a 3-2 victory over the UPEI Panthers in a physical affair tonight in Charlottetown.

The visitors opened the scoring on the power play 7:57 into the game. Mark Rassell's attempted wrap around rolled off the end of his stick, but Tyler Boland was right there to pick up the puck at the opposite side of the net and fire it past Simon Hofley. Brady Gilmour was credited with the other assist on the goal. The Panthers didn't take long to respond. At 10:04 Samuel Harvey kicked a juicy rebound out in to the slot to Darian Pilon, who hammered a one timer into the net to knot the game at one. It was the first goal UNB had surrendered in over seven periods of hockey, going back to the 2nd period last Saturday against Boston College. The game would remain tied as UNB held a slight 10-9 shot advantage in the opening period.

After a fairly uneventful 2nd period in which UNB out-shot the Panthers 15-6 and each team came up empty on a power play opportunity, the game headed to the final frame still deadlocked 1-1.

The Reds would finally break through again 8:58 into the 3rd period. Samuel Dove-McFalls won an offensive zone face-off back to a defenceman, who put a shot off the end boards. The puck bounced hard off the boards and towards the side of the net where Oliver Cooper was camped out. Cooper pounced on the loose puck and jammed it in, giving UNB the lead with his first goal of the season. Although Marcus McIvor was given credit for the primary assist, on the webcast it looked to be Noah Carroll who made the play. At 11:16 the Reds made it a two goal game. Matt Murphy carried the puck down the left side and deep into Panthers territory before sending a sharp angle shot towards the net, where Tyler Boland was able to deflect the puck past Hofley before the goaltender was able to glove it down. However, the breathing room evaporated at 15:22 when Jesse Sutton tipped the puck from just outside the crease and into the far corner late in a Panthers power play to pull the home side back within a goal. UPEI applied all kinds of pressure late in a desperate attempt to tie the score, but Harvey and the Reds held on during a last second scramble in front of the net to preserve the victory. Shots in the period were 9-7 for the Panthers.

- The Reds dressed a full complement of players with Mark Rassell back in the line-up after serving a one game suspension. Mark Simpson remained out with an injury while Tristan Pomerleau left in the 2nd period favouring his right leg and never returned.

- UNB out-shot the Panthers 32-24 overall.

- Each team scored a power play goal with UNB going 1 for 3 and UPEI 1 for 4.

- Face-offs were almost even with UNB holding a slim 35-34 advantage. Boland (10 for 17) and Alexandre Goulet (10 for 18) were the best on the night for the Reds.

- Attendance was 733.

- Boland was named the player of the game. Cooper and Hofley were the game's other two stars.

- UNB has now won nine straight games over the Panthers and are on a 26-1-1 run against UPEI since the beginning of the 2015-2016 season.

- In other conference play tonight Saint Mary's posted a convincing 6-2 road win over Dalhousie and Acadia recovered from allowing two late goals - including the tying one with 8 seconds remaining in regulation - to beat St. FX 5-4 at home on a Stephen Harper penalty shot goal in overtime.

- Next weekend UNB is at home for a pair of games for the first time this season. They host the St. FX X-Men on Friday night and then the Dalhousie Tigers are in town the next night. Game time is 7PM for both match-ups.