Sunday, March 19, 2017

BACK TO BACK!


The University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds successfully defended their National Championship and captured the 7th title in school history with a 5-3 victory over the Saskatchewan Huskies before a raucous sold-out AUC crowd this afternoon. Cam Braes paced the offense with four goals in his final university game to give the V-Reds back to back championships for the first time in program history.

- When asked how they were going to beat Goaltender of the Year Jordon Cooke, head coach Gardiner MacDougall said they would have to get "to the blue paint" and that is exactly what they did to score the game's opening goal 4:04 into the first period. Christopher Clapperton carried the puck into the Huskies zone and made a nice move to get around the defenceman to get the puck on net. Cooke couldn't control the rebound and the puck laid in the crease during a goal-mouth scramble before Cam Braes got a stick on it and slid it under the Huskies goaltender, who was down in his back. Philippe Maillet and Clapperton picked up the assists on the goal.

- The Huskies responded at 10:47 to tie the game and quiet the sold-out crowd. Connor Gay took the puck the length of the ice before letting go a wrist shot from a sharp angle near the right wing hash marks that seemed to handcuff Etienne Marcoux and sneak in for an unassisted goal.

- Just like they did on Thursday day when Queen's opened the scoring, the Varsity Reds struck back in a hurry and it was another "ugly" goal off of a scramble in front of the Huskies net. Matt Petgrave brought the puck deep into the Huskies zone and found Philippe Halley trailing the play, coming down the slot untouched. Halley's shot went wide, but the puck bounced hard off the end boards and back out near the side of the net where Mark Simpson was able to whack it off Cooke's left pad and into the corner of the net. The marker restored UNB's lead at 12:19 of the opening period - just 92 seconds after the Huskies netted the tying goal.

- UNB would take a 2-1 lead into the dressing room after a period in which Saskatchewan held an 11-8 shot advantage.

- The Varsity Reds looked to be well on their way to an easy win early in the second period when they scored a pair of quick goals to build a 4-1 advantage. At 3:17 Cam Braes got his second of the game when he finished off a tic (Clapperton) - tac (Maillet) - toe passing play on a three-on-two rush by redirected the puck past Cooke from the top of the crease to give UNB a two goal lead. Just under three minutes later Braes (Maillet, Mignardi) struck again, this time only 7 seconds into their first power play of the game to complete his hat-trick. The puck was worked down low to Braes at the side of the net and after grabbing his own rebound he was able to sneak the puck between Cooke, and the post from a tough angle on his second attempt to make it 4-1 and send a shower of hats to the ice.

- The Huskies quickly responded with a power play goal of their own to bring it back within two goals when defenceman Jordan Fransoo's (Gay, A. Johnson) wrist shot from the high slot found its way through traffic in front and beat Marcoux blocker side.

- There would be no more scoring in the period, despite the Varsity Reds dominating possession during the latter half of the period and forcing Cooke to make a number of larcenous saves, including one in which he had to reach back and pull the puck off the goal line after it trickled through him. Shots in the period were 21-5 for UNB.

- Things became tense for everyone in attendance early in the 3rd period as the Huskies narrowed the lead to 4-3 with their second power play goal of the game at 4:17. After Randy Gazzola and Rob Mignardi took penalties 31 seconds apart the V-Reds penalty killing was put to the test. They managed to kill off the 5-on-3, but with 16 seconds remaining in the second penalty Kohl Bauml (Gay, McVeigh) shoveled the puck in from the side of the net to make it a one goal game.

- Once again, the Varsity Reds had an answer. The Huskies took a penalty at 8:33 and 17 seconds later Cam Braes notched his fourth goal of the game with a slick spinning backhand to forehand move to work from the side of the net to the front of the net before putting the puck into the far corner to restore the two goal lead. Assists on the goal went to Maillet - his 4th of the game - and Jordan Murray.

- After the goal the UNB clamped down and limited Saskatchewan to few scoring chances, perhaps the biggest ones being a toe save from in tight on Logan McVeigh with just over 7 minutes remaining and then on a scramble off of a Huskies rush with 5 minutes left. The Huskies pulled Cooke with 1:33 but weren't able to generate anything dangerous as the time ran out on the game, and their season, giving the hometown Varsity Reds their second consecutive championship - and 7th overall.

- Shots in the 3rd period were 7-5 for UNB, who held a 36-21 advantage in the game. The V-Reds really tightened up defensively after allowing nine shots on goal in the first ten or so minutes of the game.

- Saskatchewan went 2 for 5 on the power play. The V-Reds went 2 for 3.

- Etienne Marcoux made 18 saves to improve to 6-0 all-time at the University Cup. This was the first time he allowed more than one goal in a game.

- Attendance was 3374. One lucky fan walked away with the biggest 50/50 jackpot in AUC history at more than $8600.

- Braes (4 goals) and Connor Gay (1 goal, 2 assists) were named the player's of the game.

- The V-Reds once again dominated the face-off circle, winning 46 out of 74 draws. Mark Simpson led the way with 15 wins in 21 chances while Braes (11 out of 16) and Dylan Willick (10 out of 18) also had big nights at the dot.

- Philippe Maillet was awarded the Major W.J. 'Danny' McLeod Award as the University Cup MVP. Maillet had 4 goals and 6 assists in the tournament. His 17 career points (5 goals, 12 assists) in 9 games at the University Cup is now a school record.

- Although his scoring prowess is obviously well documented, it should be noted that Maillet came up with a huge blocked shot in the final minute of regulation time to help kill valuable time off the clock. It's things like that which makes him the Player of the Year and one of the leaders on this year's squad.

- With his 1st period assist on Mark Simpson's goal, Philippe Halley moves into 2nd place in UNB history with 14 career University Cup points.

- Cam Braes 9 career University Cup goals are only behind Halley's 11. His four goals today ties a tournament record and is the second time he has accomplished the feat, having also done it against Windsor in 2015.

- UNB has received a hat-trick in 6 out of their last 9 University Cup games.

- Braes and Cameron Critchlow each finish their UNB careers with 3 national championships, joining Josh Hepditch and Lachlan MacIntosh (2007, 2009, 2011) and Travis Fullerton, Dion Campbell, and Daine Todd (2009, 2011, 2013) in the exclusive club.

- Rob Mignardi will also cap his 5th year with a national championship.

- Joining Maillet on the all-tournament team were Marcoux (G), Acadia's Geoffrey Schemitsch (D), Saskatchewan's Jesse Forsberg (D), Braes (F), and Saskatchewan's Levi Cable (F).

- UNB becomes the first host team to win since they also did it in 2011. Those are the only two instances since Alberta went 2 for 2 in 2004 and 2005.

- Saskatchewan falls to 1-6 all-time in title games.

- Over at his Twitter, Victor Findlay has post-game reaction from Gardiner MacDougall, Francis Beauvillier, Marcus McIvor, Stephen Anderson, and Randy Gazzola.

- UNB finishes the season with a record of 35-7-3 (35-5-3 against CIS competition). This includes a 4-2-0 exhibition record, 25-2-3 conference record, 3-3 playoff record, and 3-0 University Cup record. It is the 9th time in 10 seasons they have won at least 34 total games.

- They went 23-1-0 at the AUC this year.

- In the bronze medal game played this morning Acadia defeated St. FX 6-3.

- The Varsity Reds are back in action....in September.

(Photo Credit - U Sports Hockey on Twitter)

UNB In The National Championship Game, vs. Saskatchewan

The University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds will look to win their 7th University Cup in school history as well as win back-to-back titles for the first time ever when they face the Saskatchewan Huskies in tomorrow's gold medal game at the AUC. Game time is scheduled for 1PM and will be broadcast live nationally on Sportsnet 360.

Overall, UNB will be making their 12th appearance in the National Championship game (3rd all-time), including their 8th in the last 11 years. It will be the 9th appearance since Gardiner MacDougall took the helm in 2000/2001.

Here is a breakdown of their previous 11 appearances:

1997: Lost to Guelph 4-3
1998: Defeated Acadia 6-3
2000: Lost to Alberta 5-2 in OT2
2004: Lost to St. FX 3-2 in OT
2007: Defeated Moncton 3-2 in OT
2008: Lost to Alberta 3-2
2009: Defeated Western Ontario 4-2
2011: Defeated McGill 4-0
2013: Defeated Saint Mary's 2-0
2015: Lost to Alberta 6-3
2016: Defeated St. FX 3-1

Conversely, the Huskies will move into 4th place all-time with their 7th title game appearance and will be trying to win the school's second championship.

Here is how they have fared in their previous 6 appearances:

1981: Lost to Moncton 4-2
1982: Lost to Moncton 3-2
1983: Defeated Concordia 6-2
1987: Lost to UQTR 6-3
2005: Lost to Alberta 4-3 in OT
2014: Lost to Alberta 3-1

A few notes of interest:

- UNB's 12 appearances rank behind only Alberta (20) and Toronto (13) all-time.

- Both teams have 5 losses, which is tied with Alberta and Saint Mary's for the most all-time.

- This is UNB's 3rd title game appearance in the 5 University Cup tournaments held in Fredericton. They lost 3-2 in OT to St. FX in 2004 and then defeated McGill 4-0 in 2011.

- Cam Braes will finish his UNB career by playing in his 4th gold medal game. He will match Josh Hepditch and Lachlan MacIntosh as the only V-Reds players to ever accomplish that feat. Cameron Critchlow, also a 5th year senior, was suspended for the 2013 tournament that UNB won in Saskatoon so if he suits up tomorrow it will only be his 3rd appearance.

- This is the second time the V-Reds will be appearing in three straight title games, having also accomplished the feat from 2007-2009.

- This proves to be a fitting match-up as UNB was the #1 ranked team virtually all season while the Huskies were ranked #2 more often than any other team this year.

- The Varsity Reds and Huskies have met four times previously, all at the University Cup and all ending with UNB victories. This will be the first time they have played each other in the championship game, however.

- UNB defeated Saskatchewan 5-4 in double overtime in Saskatoon in 2000, 2-1 in 2007 in Moncton, 4-0 in 2008 in Moncton, and 3-1 in 2013 in Saskatoon.

- The game will feature the Goaltender of the Year (Jordon Cooke), Defenceman of the Year (Jordan Murray), Player of the Year (Philippe Maillet), and Coach of the Year (Dave Adolph).

Saturday, March 18, 2017

2nd Period Explosion Propels Huskies Over X-Men

The #6 seeded and Canada West runner-up Saskatchewan Huskies erupted for 8 goals - including 6 in the middle period - in an 8-0 demolition over the #2 seeded and AUS champion St. FX X-Men this afternoon at the AUC. With the win the Huskies book a date with the Varsity Reds in tomorrow afternoon's gold medal game while the X-Men will battle the Acadia Axemen in the bronze medal contest

- The X-Men looked like a team that had played a game the night before throughout the contest as the Huskies constantly beat them to loose pucks, won battles all over the ice, and generally looked like the quicker and fresher team. Saskatchewan jumped ahead 4:29 into the game when Jesse Forsberg got around a defender and received a nice saucer pass just inside the X-Men blue-line, going in all alone and beating goaltender Chase Marchand with a nice move in tight. The Huskies would hold the 1-0 lead until intermission after out-shooting St. FX 8-7 in the period.

- It all fell apart for the X-Men in the 2nd period. Saskatchewan struck for goals at 1:54 (Levi Cable), 4:29 (Carson Stadnyk), 10:17 (Logan McVeigh), 12:32 (Parker Thomas), 18:38 (Wyatt Johnson), and 19:57 (Connor Gay) to shock pretty much everyone in the building and build a commanding 7-0 cushion after 40 minutes. Shots were 12-9 for Saskatchewan in the period.

- The Huskies added another goal at 4:50 of the 3rd period when McVeigh got his second of the game, this one on the power play, to make it 8-0. They had a chance to make things even worse when they received a five minute power play after X-Men defenceman Max Iafrate decided to blatantly elbow a Saskatchewan player in the face and then, seconds later, cross-check another up high. The Huskies seemed content to just kill the clock at this point of the game more than anything and were held scoreless the rest of the way. The X-Men had a flurry of chances in the final minutes but were unable to spoil Jordon Cooke's shutout bid. Shots in the period were 10 apiece.

- Saskatchewan was 2 for 6 on the power play. The X-Men were 0 for 5.

- Shots were 30-26 for the Huskies.

- Levi Cable and Craig Duininck were named the player's of the game.

- Cooke becomes the first goaltender since Travis Fullerton in 2011 to post back-to-back shutouts at the University Cup.

- AUS goaltender of the year Chase Marchand gave up 5 goals on 16 shots in 32:32 of action before giving away to Brandon Hope, who surrendered 3 goals on 14 shots the rest of the way.

- Attendace was 2774.

- This was the most lopsided game at the University Cup since the Huskies pounded Windsor 9-0 at the 2014 tournament in Saskatoon.

- Saskatchewan moves on to their second championship game since 2014 where they will face the Varsity Reds. The Huskies will be searching for their second University Cup in school history. They captured their lone title in 1983 in Moncton. Game time is 1PM and will be broadcast live on Sportsnet 360.

- The X-Men will try to regroup for tomorrow's bronze medal game against Acadia. Game time is 9:30AM.

V-Reds Shut Down Axemen, Earn Finals Berth

The University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds scored a goal in each period and a rode a second consecutive semi-final shut-out by Etienne Marcoux to defeat the Acadia Axemen 3-0 and advance to their third straight championship game.

- The Varsity Reds jumped out to a quick 1-0 lead after some nifty passing with Francis Beauvillier finding Chris Caissy, who then fed Stephen Anderson a cross-ice pass at the side of the net for a wrist shot into a wide open net. The goal came at 4:28 of the first period and proved to be the only goal UNB would need.

- The Axemen thought they had the tying goal with 7:07 remaining in the period, but the goal was quickly waved off without much argument after it was ruled Brett Thompson was in the crease and interfered with goaltender Etienne Marcoux.

- The V-Reds were finally able to add to their lead at 16:57 of the second period when their struggling power play, as well as Jordan Murray, both snapped out of their recent funks. With the man advantage Murray (Maillet, Braes) let go of a wrist shot from the point that skipped past goaltender Robert Steeves and into the corner of the net for a 2-0 advantage.

- The Axemen had a golden opportunity to get back into the game early in the 3rd period as Mike Thomas was assessed a 5-minute major penalty and a game misconduct for charging 3:43 into the frame. However, as they have done all season long, the V-Reds penalty kill stepped up in a huge way, limiting the Axemen to only 3 shots during the power play.

- UNB put the game away at 18:47 with the goalie pulled for the extra attacker. Philippe Maillet (Clapperton, McIvor) chased down a loose puck deep into the Axemen zone, cut towards the slot, and found the empty net to make it 3-0.

- Mike Thomas replaced Cameron Critchlow in the line-up. Cameron Brace, Oliver Cooper, and Peter Trainor all remained out.

- Shots in the game were 30-20 for the V-Reds with period totals of 5-6, 14-7, and 11-7.

- UNB went 1 for 4 on the power play, but the story of the game was their penalty killing. They held the Axemen scoreless on 7 opportunities and over 16 minutes of power play time.

- Etienne Marcoux had his best game of the postseason as he recorded his second career University Cup shut-out, previously turning the trick against Saint Mary's in last year's semi-finals. He improves to 5-0 with a 0.60 GAA  in his career at the University Cup.

- Marcoux and Axemen defenceman Geoff Schemitsch were named the player's of the game.

- The V-Reds dominated the face-off circle, winning 47 out of 72 draws. Dylan Willick (15 out of 21) and Mark Simpson (13 out of 18) both not only had big nights in the face-off dot, but also did yeoman's work while shorthanded, along with Philippe Halley and the rest of the penalty killers, in keeping the Axemen off the board.

- Attendance was a sell-out of 3374.

- With two more points today Philippe Maillet has tied Philippe Halley and Kyle Bailey for the most University Cup points in school history with 13. His 8 career assists are also tied for most all-time (with Bailey and Ryan Lindsay).

- Murray's goal was his first point of the postseason. He was held off the score sheet in four conference playoff games and in Thursday's game against Queen's. He was also held scoreless in 3 out his last 4 regular season games.

- UNB's power play had been 2 for their previous 45 prior to Murray's goal.

- This was only the second meeting between the two schools at the University Cup. UNB defeated Acadia 6-3 for their first National Championship in 1998.

- The Varsity Reds will have chance to defend their 2016 title on home-ice Sunday afternoon when they face the winner of the upcoming St. FX/Saskatchewan semi-final. Game time is scheduled for 1PM and can be seen live on Sportsnet 360. The Axemen will face the loser in the bronze medal game at 9:30AM.

X-Men Set-Up Rematch With Huskies

The similarities to last season's University Cup continue as the St. FX X-Men defeated the McGill Redmen 4-1 tonight to set up a rematch of last year' semi-finals with the Saskatchewan Huskies.

- The X-Men opened the scoring 2:27 into the game when a rush up the ice pulled Redmen goalie Jacob Gervais-Chouinard well out of his net and Jagger Dirk found Matt Needham from behind the net all alone in front for an easy tap-in.

- Michael Clarke extended the lead to 2-0 at 14:35 of the second period when he batted the puck into an empty net at the side of the cage.

- McGill made a game of it 4:04 into the 3rd period while on a 5-on-3 advantage after Christophe Lalonde beat X-Men goaltender Chase Marchand with a fluttering shot from the point.

- St. FX was able to secure the victory with two goals in less than a minute just after the mid-point of the 3rd period. At 12:09 Mark Tremaine drove to the net and redirected a Nathan Pancel cross-ice past just inside the post and out of the reach of the left leg of Gervais-Chouinard and then at 13:01 Holden Cook, who had left the game earlier in the period with an apparent shoulder injury, gained possession of a loose puck in the slot and made no mistake firing it in for a 4-1 lead.

- Shots were 35-22 for St. FX.

- McGill was 1 for 6 on the power play while the X-Men were scoreless on four opportunities.

- Face-offs were almost even with McGill holding a slight 36-35 edge.

- Cook (1 goal) and Etienne Boutet were named the players of the game.

- Attendance was 3269.

- Redmen defenceman Nathan Chiarlitti was facing his former team for the first time.

- For the second consecutive year the AUS will have three teams in the final four. The X-Men advance to face the Saskatchewan Huskies in tomorrow afternoon's 4PM semi-final while the Acadia Axemen and UNB Varsity Reds play each other in the 12PM semi-final. The winners will move on to Sunday's 1PM gold medal game and the losers play in the 9:30AM bronze medal contest.