Saturday, February 6, 2016

Varsity Reds Wrap Up Top Spot

The University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds clinched 1st place in the AUS for the 9th consecutive season after a 7-4 victory over the visiting Acadia Axemen in an exciting, physical, penalty-filled, playoff-like home finale tonight at the AUC. With the win - UNB's 12th straight - the V-Reds are 21-3-2 on the season and will be ensured home-ice advantage throughout the playoffs.

In a complete turnaround from a night ago when UNB and Saint Mary's skated through a scoreless opening period, the two teams combined for 5 goals in the 1st period tonight. The Axemen got on the board first 1:09 into the game when goaltender Etienne Marcoux couldn't control a bouncing puck off the end boards and Mike Cazzola took advantage, snapping the loose puck into the net. The V-Reds tied it while on the power play at 7:02 courtesy a Cameron Brace (Murray, Maillet) laser beam over Brandon Glover's shoulder and into the top left corner. The Axemen caught a bit of a break to regain the lead just 58 seconds later. Brett Thompson's dump-in hit Matt Petgrave up high, stunning the V-Reds defenceman and taking him out of the play. The puck came right back to Thompson and he found Boston Leier coming down the left side with a cross-ice pass. Leier wasted no time in firing the puck past a diving Marcoux. The goals kept coming with the Varsity Reds responding - again on the power play - 1:48 later. This time it was Chris Clapperton (Maillet, Murray) breaking free from the defense in the Axemen corner and driving towards the net, where he redirected a pass from the opposite side of the ice into the open side of the net. UNB took their first lead of the night at 12:35 on a broken play when a point shot was partially deflected, but came right to Rob Mignardi (Suellentrop, Petgrave) who was waiting at the side of the net to pounce on the loose puck and give UNB a 3-2 lead. Shots in the period favoured the V-Reds 14-7.

After scoring early in the 1st period the Axemen duplicated the feat with a power play goal at 1:29 of the 2nd period to tie the game once again. Marcoux thought he had the puck frozen between his pad and the post but Sam Fioretti had a couple whacks at it and eventually pushed it into the net to make it 3-3. The Varsity Reds took a 4-3 lead at 4:23 when Jordan Murray found Clapperton with a beautiful, long stretch pass through the center of the ice for a breakaway. Clapperton made no mistake in beating Glover blocker side for his 2nd goal of the evening - and 7th in 11 games since joining the team at Christmas. Matt Petgrave picked up his 2nd assist of the night on the goal. The V-Reds would make it 5-3 before the end of the period when Stephen Anderson took an innocent looking shot from near the blue line and along the boards. However, the rebound was kicked out right to Tyler Carroll, who was driving to the net. Carroll made no mistake to give UNB a two goal cushion at 15:07. Shots in the period were 12-7 for UNB.

The Varsity Reds would add another goal at 3:32 when Francis Beauvillier found Brace in front of the net for a quick snap shot past Glover to make it 6-3. It was Brace's 2nd goal of the night and 15th of the season, good for 2nd in the AUS. Brett Thompson's power play goal at 15:34 cut the deficit to 6-4 and gave the Axemen a flicker of hope, but any chance they had of a miracle comeback were extinguished with a Taylor MacDougall (Braes) empty net goal at 19:24 to cap the night's scoring. Acadia out-shot the V-Reds 12-9 in the period.

- Shots in the game were 35-26 for the Varsity Reds.

- Cameron Critchlow (suspended), Peter Trainor, Marcus McIvor, and Mike Thomas were all out of the line-up.

- As mentioned, it was a penalty-filled game with the two teams accounting for 31 infractions - including 5 10-minute misconducts - and 102 penalty minutes. UNB was 2 for 8 on the power play while Acadia was 2 for 7.

- UNB's 44 penalty minutes tonight gives them a CIS-leading 678 on the season (84 more than the next closest team).

- It appeared the Axemen were getting more and more frustrated as the game wore on. However, if there is one thing the V-Reds may need to get better at it, it is their discipline. There were a couple of occasions tonight where UNB took a retaliatory penalty that wiped out a potential power play.

- Brace, Murray, and Clapperton were the game's three stars.

- UNB dominated in the face-off circle, winning 42 out of 65 draws. Taylor MacDougall (14 out of 18) and Dylan Willick (10 out of 14) led the way.

- Brace had a game-high 8 shots on goal. No one else had more than 4.

- Axemen defenceman Stephen Woodworth will probably want to erase this game from his memory. He was -5 on the night.

- Attendance was 3127 on Home Depot Night. This pushed UNB's total home attendance to 32 237on the season, once again leading the CIS.

- Before the game a trio of players were honoured. 5th year defenceman Alex Wall was awarded the Don MacAdam Scholarship for performance and leadership. Meanwhile, 3rd year forward Dylan Willick and 5th year forward Taylor MacDougall were named recipients of the Punchy Walker Scholarship, given to the two senior players who have made significant contributions to the team's success.

- The V-Reds finished their home schedule with a 13-0-1 record, the 7th straight season they have won at least 12 home games. They are a ridiculous 88-7-3 in conference home games during that span.

- Interestingly, despite that gaudy record, they have had only one season (2010-2011) during this stretch in which they went a perfect 14-0-0.

- UNB improves to 23-0-3 in their last 26 home games against Acadia. The last time the Axemen beat UNB in regulation at the AUC was a 5-3 victory in game 3 of the AUS Finals on March 7th, 2006, which completed a three game sweep.

- Having said that, UNB has not beaten Acadia more than than twice in the last four regular seasons. They are only 7-4-5 in that span. 

- With Saskatchewan losing both of their games this weekend it would be shocking if the V-Reds weren't the new #1 team in the country when the latest top ten ranking are released on Tuesday.

- The UQTR Patriotes (22-3-1) are the only team in the country with a better record than UNB (21-3-2). Saskatchewan (21-5-0) and McGill (21-5-1) are the only other teams with more than 20 victories thus far.

- Elsewhere around the AUS tonight Moncton blanked Dalhousie 2-0 in Halifax to clinch the final playoff berth, St. FX hammered St. Thomas 7-1 at home to pull within a point of Acadia and set-up a huge game between the two teams Wednesday night in Antigonish, and Saint Mary's picked up a 6-2 road victory over UPEI.

- With two games remaining for each team the current AUS standings look like this: UNB (44 points), Acadia (38), St. FX (37), Saint Mary's (34), UPEI (25), Moncton (24), Dalhousie (20), and St. Thomas (5).

- UNB is back in action on Wednesday night when they travel up the hill to face St. Thomas at the Grant*Harvey Centre. Game time is 7PM.

Friday, February 5, 2016

UNB Pulls Away From SMU

The University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds scored three goals in the 3rd period en route to a 6-2 victory over the visiting Saint Mary's Huskies on Military Appreciation Night tonight at the AUC. The Varsity Reds 11th straight win now has them at 20-3-2 on the season. They maintain a four point lead over the 2nd place Acadia Axemen with their final head-to-head match-up of the season looming tomorrow evening.

Although the two teams played through a tight, defensive-minded 1st period that featured only 13 total shots on goal (7 for UNB, 6 for SMU), the Huskies had a great chance to take control of the game when Varsity Reds captain Cam Critchlow was assessed a 5 minute major and game misconduct for checking from behind at 14:19. Not only did the V-Reds kill off the power play, they only surrendered a single shot and carried that momentum into the middle frame.

The V-Reds got on the board first 5:37 into the 2nd period after Cam Braes won a offensive zone face-off back to Jordan Murray, who slid down the side boards and found Chris Clapperton in front of the net. Cole Cheveldave made the original save, but Clapperton got another whack at the puck and was able to get the puck past Cheveldave's outstretched glove. UNB extended their lead to 2-0 at 10:09 after Francis Beauvillier tracked down a Rob Mignardi pass near the right face-off circle in the Huskies zone. Beauvillier drove to the net and was hauled down, drawing a penalty in the process. However, as he went tumbling into the net the puck went with him and referee declared a good goal. The Huskies would respond just under four and a half minutes later on the power play. A Stephen MacAulay face-off win went back to Kyle Pereira at the point and he quickly passed the puck over to fellow defenceman Jamie Doornbosh, who had time and space to skate in a few steps and blast a slap shot shot past Etienne Marcoux. The goal came just 6 seconds into the man advantage and got Saint Mary's right back into the game at 2-1. The momentum would be short-lived though as UNB would restore their two goal lead at 17:03 after some beautiful passing by the top line. Philippe Maillet gathered the puck behind the Huskies goal and he found Clapperton at the bottom of the face-off circle. Clapperton quickly slid the puck over to Cam Braes, who was all alone at the side of the cage, for the easy tap-in. The V-Reds would take a 3-1 lead into the final 20 minutes after out-shooting Saint Mary's 16-7 in the period.

After UNB came out of the gate with a few quality chances to open the 3rd period it was the Huskies who got the next goal with a power play marker by Bradley Greene at 3:58, cutting the lead to one once again. The V-Reds would once again respond to regain the two goal cushion. At 10:32 Philippe Halley (Willick, Suellentrop) broke out of his own zone on a 3-on-1 and used his teammates as a decoy before snapping a shot through Cheveldave's legs for a 4-2 lead. UNB added a pair of goals 25 seconds apart late in the period to put this one away. After 6 straight Husky power plays the Varsity Reds found themselves on a 5-on-3 advantage at 14:36. UNB failed to convert on the two man advantage despite a few good chances, but they scored on the 5-on-4 portion to make it 5-2 at 16:01. Maillet found Clapperton on the goal line and he quickly passed it out to Cam Braes, who was all alone in the slot - perhaps those camouflage jerseys are an even better idea than originally thought. Braes wasted no time in snapping the puck off the post an into the net for his 2nd goal of the game. Taylor MacDougall (Thomas, Suellentrop) put the icing on this one just 25 seconds later when a bouncing puck came right to him as he was standing just outside of the crease. MacDougall had an easy tap-in to make it 6-2, which is how this one would end. Shots in the period were 18-8 for UNB.
- Shots in the game were 41-21 for UNB.

- Matt Petgrave (suspended), Marcus McIvor, Peter Trainor, and Stephen Anderson were all out of the line-up.

- Cam Critchlow will be suspended for at least one game due to his game misconduct tonight.

- Saint Mary's was 2 for 6 on the power play to increase their league-leading percentage to 20.9%. UNB was 1 for 3.
- Etienne Marcoux was solid when needed in turning aside 19 out of 21 shots fired his way. He improves to 14-2-0 on the season and is now tied for the conference lead in wins while leading the circuit in GAA (2.04) and save percentage (.902).

- Cam Braes was named the player of the game and was awarded the first Fallen Soldier Memorial Award for leadership and tenacity in the game. Colin Suellentrop and Chris Clapperton were the other stars of the game.

- Attendance was 2529, a good turnout given the winter storm that hammered Fredericton all day.

- It took the Huskies more than 6 hours to make the trek from Halifax due to the weather and the long day may have showed. Saint Mary's didn't register their first shot on goal until more than 10 minutes into the game and seemed to wear down as the game moved along.

- The V-Reds have clinched a 1st round bye for the 10th consecutive year.

- This is the 9th straight season UNB has collected at least 20 victories, which is far and away the longest current streak in the country. The next longest streak belongs to McGill, who has now done it 3 straight years (including this year). Alberta's 4 year run will end this season as they have 16 wins with only 3 games to play.

- In other AUS action tonight the Acadia Axemen defeated UPEI 2-1 in a shootout in Charlottetown to keep pace with UNB, St. FX notched a 4-2 home win over Moncton, and Dalhousie got within two points of the Aigles Bleus for the 6th and final playoff spot with a 4-1 victory over St. Thomas in Halifax.

- The Varsity Reds play their final home game of the regular season tomorrow night when they host the 2nd place Acadia Axemen. It is the biggest game of the season thus far as they attempt to clinch 1st place for a 9th straight year. UNB currently sits four points up on Acadia with 3 games left to play so a win (either in regulation or OT/SO) will wrap up the top spot. We hope everyone can make it out to the AUC to cheer on the V-Reds, but if you can't make it the game will be streamed live at Game time is 7PM.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Military Appreciation Night

The University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds will be holding their 2nd annual Military Appreciation Night tomorrow evening when they host the Saint Mary's Huskies at 7PM at the AUC.

Some of the highlights of the evening will include equipment displays, a special pre-game ceremony featuring a military colour guard, and custom-designed jerseys created by V-Reds broadcaster David Kilfoil and historian Eric Drummie. There will be one jersey raffled off at the game and another put up for auction on eBay. A select number of jerseys will be available to purchase at following home games.

We encourage everyone to come out to the AUC to not only recognize the sacrifices these people make for our country, but also cheer on the red-hot 1st place V-Reds as they look to extend their winning streak to 11 games and get one step closer to clinching top spot in the AUS.

In other news, Bruce Hallihan has confirmed (subscription required) defenceman Matt Petgrave has been suspended one game due to his game misconduct last Saturday night against Moncton. Marcus McIvor, who has been rehabbing an injured ankle, is close to returning and may be back in the line-up. If not, the V-Reds will be forced to play with only 5 defencemen.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Beauvillier Named Athlete Of The Month

On the heels of being recognized as the UNB Varsity Reds/Dominos Pizza male Athlete of the Week, as well as the Subway AUS male Athlete of the Week, forward Francis Beauvillier has been named the UNB Varsity Reds/Valley Graphics male Athlete of the Month for January.

The Varsity Reds posted a perfect 9-0 conference record in January and Beauvillier played a big part in that success. Although he only played in 7 of those games, the 2nd year forward posted 4 goals and 5 points. He also had a goal and two assists in a pair of exhibition victories over Concordia at the beginning of the month.

For the season Beauvillier has amassed 12 goals (7th in the AUS), 21 points (18th), a +15 rating (6th). 2 game-winning goals (3rd), and 72 shots on goal (8th) in 22 games.

CIS Top Ten (#13): UNB Still 2nd

The University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds remain the 2nd ranked team in the country according to the latest men's hockey rankings released yesterday. The V-Reds received one first place vote and 142 points from the 16-member media panel, only behind the Saskatchewan Huskies who earned 14 first place votes and 158 points. The Huskies have won 9 straight games to improve to 21-3-0 on the season and have clinched 1st place in Canada West.

Rounding out the top five are the UQTR Patriotes, Acadia Axemen, and McGill Redmen.

The defending University Cup champion Alberta Golden Bears have slipped to 7th - their lowest ranking since the 2011/2012 season - after dropping a pair of games last weekend. The Bears have slipped to 3rd in Canada West with a 15-7-2 record.

St. FX (9th) and Saint Mary's (10th) were the other AUS teams to make the top ten.