Monday, February 24, 2020

Reds Book UCup Ticket

The top seeded University of New Brunswick Reds earned a berth in next month’s University Cup in Halifax after completing a three game sweep of the #4 Universite de Moncton Aigles Bleus with a 4-1 victory tonight in Moncton. The Reds now await the winner of the other semi-final series between University Cup host #2 Acadia and #3 Saint Mary’s to see who they play in the best 2-of-3 AUS Final. Meanwhile, the Aigles Bleus will hope to play in a consolation series against Saint Mary’s to determine the AUS’ third berth at Nationals.

More to come tomorrow...

Saturday, February 22, 2020

UNB Takes Game 2

It was a better effort for the Universite de Moncton Aigles Bleus in game two of their best 3-of-5 AUS semi-final series, but the result was the same as the University of New Brunswick Reds offense continued to roll in a 7-3 victory tonight at the AUC. UNB held serve on home ice, taking a commanding 2-0 series lead with the scene now shifting to Moncton.

It was a similar start to the previous night as neither side had much in the way of scoring chances, with the exception of a nice toe save by Rylan Parenteau in the opening minutes. The game would remain scoreless until the 16:00 mark when Tyler Boland (Watling, Anderson) picked up the puck during a scramble in front of Aigles Bleus goaltender Etienne Montpetit and put it home. The opening goal opened the floodgates for the Reds as they scored two more goals in the next 32 seconds. At 16:11 Alexandre Goulet (Gatenby, Pomerleau) spun around a defender at the Moncton bench to race in all alone on Montpetit. Goulet's nifty stickhandling opened up the goaltender's legs and he slid the puck five-hole. Just 21 seconds later it was Goulet (Hawerchuk, Murphy) again. This time he split the defence before going forehand to backhand to put the puck between Montpetit's legs, making it 3-0 with his 5th goal in four playoff periods. The wild flurry would be the only scoring in the period as UNB out-shot Moncton 13-7.

The Reds held a 21-4 shot advantage in the second period, but it was the visitors scoring the lone goal. Defenceman Olivier Desjardins sneaked in from the point and tapped the puck in at the backdoor at 14:31 to draw Moncton back within two.

After being held scoreless in the second period despite peppering Montpetit with 21 shots, UNB converted their first shot of the 3rd period. Beginning the period with a power play, Stephen Anderson (Boland, Bennett) put a shot from the hash marks into the top right corner to make it 4-1 36 seconds into the frame. The Aigles Bleus answered just over two minutes later with a power play marker of their own, although it appeared the referees missed an offside call moments prior to Vincent Deslauriers goal. The Reds quickly put the non-call behind them as Kris Bennett (Simpson, Boucher) bulldozed around Montpetit to swipe a loose puck sitting in the crease into the open net. The goal came at 3:29, restoring UNB's three goal lead only 40 seconds after Moncton had made it 4-2. The goals kept coming as Connor Hall (Watling, Anderson) put a long wrist shot past a screened Montpetit for his first career AUS playoff goal at 6:46, which pushed the lead to 6-2. A Bennett (Gatenby, Boland) power play goal at 12:03 and Deslaurier's second of the night at 14:04 rounded out the scoring on the night. Shots in the period were 10-9 for the Reds.

- UNB went with their usual line-up, meaning Noah Carroll, Benjamin Gagne, James McEwan, and Dylan Seitz were the scratches.

- Shots were 44-20 for the Reds.

- Each team had three power play opportunities. UNB scored twice while Moncton connected once with the man advantage.

- The Reds won 38 out of 57 face-offs. Samuel Dove-McFalls was the busiest of all Reds players, taking 21 draws and winning 14 of them.

- Rylan Parenteau saw the first playoff action of his UNB career. He kicked out 17 out of the 20 shots sent his way to earn the victory.

- Bennett and Deslauriers were named the players of the game for their respective teams.

- Attendance was 2652.

- This was UNB's 17th consecutive victory.

- After scoring 12 goals in their first three games against Moncton this season, the Reds have hit the back of the net 29 times in their last four meetings.

- This is the first time UNB has scored at least seven goals in back to back playoff games since doing it three times in a row in the 1997 playoffs.

- The Reds will look to wrap up the series on Monday night in Moncton. Game time is 7PM.

- The other semi-final series between Acadia and Saint Mary's resumes tomorrow night in Wolfville with the Axemen looking to go up 2-0. Puck drop is scheduled for 7PM. 

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Goulet Leads Reds In Series Opener

Alexandre Goulet fired a hat-trick and the top seeded University of New Brunswick Reds opened their playoffs with a convimcing 7-2 victory over the visiting Universite de Moncton Aigles Bleus tonight at the AUC. UNB takes a 1-0 lead in the best 3-of-5 semi-final series.

It was a slow opening few minutes with only a couple of shots on net combined and no really good scoring chances. The Reds then broke through 5:10 into the game on their first quality opportunity. A series of short passes in the Moncton zone led to the puck finding its way to Matthew Boucher (Simpson, Bennet), who was all alone at the hash marks. Boucher buried a wrist shot short side on Aigle Bleus goaltender Etienne Montpetit to open the scoring. The 1-0 advantage would hold until the 12:53 mark when Patrick Watling (Boland, Murphy) slid a shot along the ice from the high slot that eluded traffic in front of the net and found an opening, giving UNB a 2-0. That's how the 1st period would end up as the Reds out-shot Moncton 12-5.

The Reds turned it up a notch in the 2nd period as they held an 18-56 shots advantage and scored four times to blow the game wide open. At 1:18 Matt Murphy (Dove-McFalls) joined the rush and got the puck in the left face-off circle, picking the top left corner to extend the lead to 3-0. The special teams then went to work to make it 4-0, except it was the penalty kill and not the power play getting the job done. Samuel Dove McFalls forced a turnover at the UNB blue-line and went in on a 2-on-1 rush with Goulet. Dove-McFalls lofted a soft area pass into the slot that Goulet was able to skate into and the 3rd year forward made no mistake snapping a shot past Montpetit's blocker. Marcus McIvor also picked up an assist on the shorthanded tally. Goulet (Hall, Gilmour) got his second of the night - and period - at 10:53 when he banged in a rebound at the side of the net. This would spell the end of the night for Montpetit, who surrendered five goals on 22 shots on the night. It only took 30 seconds for UNB to get their first against Alexi Thibaudeau with Dove-McFalls (Rassell, Cooper) doing the honours at 11:23 to make it a 6-0 game, which is how it would stand after 40 minutes.

The Aigles Bleus scored both early - Vincent Deslauriers finishing off a nice passing play at 0:48 to break Samuel Harvey's shut-out bid - and late - Maxime Sy-Cyr with a two man advantage at 18:41 - in the 3rd period. This was sandwiched around Goulet's third of the night, a 5-on-3 marker at 4:28. Shots in the period were 11-7 for UNB.

- Noah Carroll, Benjamin Gagne, Jame McEwan, and Dylan Seitz were the scratches.

- Shots on goal ended up 41-18.

- UNB went 1 for 3 on the power play. Moncton was 1 for 6.

- The Reds won 42 out of 68 face-offs on the night with Dove-McFalls (15 out of 22) doing his usual excellent work. Goulet (8 out of 11) also had a good night.

- Samuel Harvey made 16 saves in his AUS playoff debut.

- Goulet and Moncton's Joey Richard were named the player of the game for their respective teams 

- Attendance was 2297.

- This is UNB's 11th straight playoff win.

- Acadia got past Saint Mary's by a 4-1 score in the opening game of their series. Game 2 of that series goes Saturday night.

- Meanwhile, these two teams are back at it at the AUC tomorrow night for a 7PM start.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

UNB vs. Moncton: Preview, Prediction, Poll

The #1 ranked University of New Brunswick Reds begin defence of their back-to-back AUS Championships tomorrow night when they welcome the 4th place Universite de Moncton Aigles Bleus to the AUC for game one of their best 3-of-5 semi-final series. Game two goes Friday night in Fredericton before the series shifts to Moncton for game three on Monday and game four, if necessary, on Tuesday. A potential game five would take place next Thursday back at the Aitken Centre. All games are scheduled for a 7PM start with the winner earning a berth at next month's University Cup in Halifax.

The Reds and Aigles Bleus are meeting in the playoffs for the first time since the 2012 AUS Final. By comparison, UNB has faced St. FX five times, Saint Mary's four times, UPEI three times, and Acadia once since last facing Moncton. Overall, this will only be the third time since Gardiner MacDougall became head coach the two teams will face off in postseason play. In 2006 UNB swept a semi-final series with 5-3 and 4-1 wins. Moncton returned the favour the next season in the AUS Final with a 4-2 win at home before clinching the title with a 3-2 overtime win at the AUC. Of course the Reds would get the last laugh that season when they defeated the Aigles Bleus 3-2 in overtime in the National Championship game in Moncton. In their last playoff meeting UNB swept the 2012 AUS Final with 8-3, 4-2, and 4-0 victories. 

Of course, none of those previous results have any bearing on this season. Moncton is riding high after following up a 13-11-6 regular season with their first playoff victory since 2013-2014 when they swept the St. FX X-Men in two straight close games. Although they have had a successful season thus far, they have struggled mightily against UNB in recent years. The Aigles Bleus lost all five games against the Reds this season - 4-0, 4-2, 4-1, 7-3, and 8-2 - and only have one shootout victory against UNB in their last 22 meetings. They have dropped their last 17 games at the AUC.

While the Aigles Bleus only found the back of the net 92 times this season - the second fewest in the league - and generated only 29.2 shots/game (also the second fewest in the league), they have one of the most dangerous lines in the conference, consisting of first team all-star Maxime St-Cyr (t-1st with 20 goals and t-4th with 40 points), 5th year veteran Robbie Graham (12 goals, 27 points, team-high +11) and Vincent Deslauriers (24 points in 28 games). They also received solid contributions from forwards Alexis Roy (20 points) and Joey Richard (17 points). On the back end they are led offensively by Danick Crete, who had 6 goals and 10 assists this season. However, they will be in tough to generate offense against a UNB team that once again led the conference in goals against average (1.86), shots allowed per game (20.7), and penalty killing (86.8%). The Reds also ranked 2nd in save percentage (0.910).

Without a doubt the strength of this Moncton team stands between the pipes where 2nd team all-star Etienne Monpetit played a league-high 29 games and 1698 minutes. Despite the work load, Monpetit had a 0.907 save percentage, which was good for 3rd in the conference, and the 4th best goals against average at 3.04. As a team the Aigles Bleus surrendered 98 goals this season, the 3rd fewest goals in the league. Monpetit will need to stand on his head to keep a UNB team that led the league in goals per game (5.33), shots per game (41.7), and power play percentage (30.5%) at bay. Unlike Moncton, who rely on a handful of players to generate the majority of their offense, you can't take a break against the Reds as they feature seven players who potted 10+ goals and 11 players who put up 20+ points.

At the end of the day it is hard to envision a scenario in which the Reds don't emerge victorious in this series. UNB have been on a roll for almost three months and while Monpetit may be able to steal a game for the Aigles Bleus, the Reds offensive depth, sound defensive play, solid goaltending - whether it be Samuel Harvey or Rylan Parenteau who get the nod - and home-ice advantage should prove to be too much for a Moncton team that, while on the upswing in recent years, aren't quite there yet.

PREDICTION: UNB in 3, booking their spot at the University Cup.

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AUS Awards Announced

The AUS announced its major award winners and all-stars earlier today and six Reds players were recognized for their outstanding seasons.

Although they were shut out of the major awards, Reds forward Tyler Boland was named a first team all-star, forward Kris Bennett and defenceman Matt Murphy were named to the second all-star squad, and goaltender Samuel Harvey, forward Brady Gilmour, and defenceman Connor Hall were part of the all-rookie team.

Here is the complete list of honourees:

Most Valuable Player (Kelly Trophy): G Logan Flodell, Acadia
Rookie of the Year (A.J. MacAdam Trophy): Mitchell Balmas, Saint Mary's
Most Sportsmanlike Player (Don Wells Trophy): Vincent Deslauriers, Moncton
Student-Athlete Community Service Award (The Godfrey Award): Liam Maaskant, Acadia
Coach of the Year (Bob Boucher Trophy): Darren Burns, Acadia

First Team All-Stars
G - Logan Flodell, Acadia
D - Nicholas Welsh, Saint Mary's
D - Owen Headrick, UPEI
F - Mitchell Balmas, Saint Mary's
F - Tyler Boland, UNB
F - Maxime St-Cyr, Moncton

Second Team All-Stars
G - Etienne Monpetit, Moncton
D - Matt Murphy, UNB
D - Garrett McFadden, Acadia
F - Kris Bennett, UNB
F - Kameron Kielly, UPEI
F - Stephen Johnson, Saint Mary's

All-Rookie Team
G - Samuel Harvey, UNB
D - Francis Thibeault, Moncton
D - Connor Hall, UNB
F - Mitchell Balmas, Saint Mary's
F - Kyle Maksimovich, UPEI
F - Brady Gilmour, UNB