Sunday, May 20, 2018

Offseason Update

While it has been slow beginning to the offseason in terms of news, there have been a few notes of interest thus far:

- At last month's Senior Appreciation and Awards Ceremony the team handed out a number of accolades. These included Hardest Worker (Kris Bennett), Most Improved (Tristan Pomerleau), Top G.R.I.T. (Mike Thomas), Most Dedicated (Christopher Clapperton), Top Efficiency (Bennett), Unsung Hero (Dylan Willick), Top Defensive Player (Mark Simpson), and Top Defenceman (Randy Gazzola and Matt Murphy).

- The four graduating seniors were also honoured with forwards Dylan Willick, Mike Thomas, and Chris Caissy and defenceman Colin Suellentrop being welcomed into the UNB Hockey Fellows Society. While Willick and Thomas have used up all five years of their eligibility, Caissy and Suellentrop have opted to move on after four years.

- Trey Lewis will also not return after having signed a contract to play for the Brest Albatros in France.

- These five departures, in addition to playing last season two players under the 22 player roster cap, means the Varsity Reds could have up to seven new players in their line-up next season. One of these - forward Patrick Watling - was already announced in September.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Willick Signs With Railers

Varsity Reds team captain Dylan Willick has agreed to terms with the ECHL's Worcester Railers, the team announced earlier this week.

The 5th year forward joins the Railers - an affiliate of the NHL's New York Islanders - after posting 58 points (28 goals, 30 assists) and a +45 rating in a school record-tying 138 regular season games.

Playing in his first professional game on Friday night against the Brampton Beats, Willick - wearing 42 instead of his usual 9 - picked up an assist in a 3-2 victory. He notched his first career professional goal the next night against the Beast when he opened the scoring after picking up a loose puck in the defensive zone and went in all alone, putting the puck top corner for a shorthanded tally. Worcester would go on to a 4-1 win.

Willick is one of two Varsity Reds players who have used up all five years of their eligibility with Mike Thomas being the other.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

University Cup Wrap-Up: V-Reds Win Bronze, X-Men Lose Gold

The 2018 University Cup concluded this morning and afternoon at the AUC with the bronze medal and gold medal games.

This morning in a chippy bronze medal game the University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds defeated the Saskactchewan Huskies 5-4 in overtime.

- Much like in their semi-final game against Alberta the Huskies got out to a 2-0 lead on goals at 6:08 and 16:22 of the opening period. A Matt Murphy (Simpson, McIvor) shorthanded goal off of the rush in the final minute got UNB back within one heading into intermission.

- Saskatchewan restored their two goal advantage early in the 2nd period only to see the V-Reds storm back for three goals in short order to take the lead. At 4:29 Tyler Boland (Goulet, Brace) picked the top corner on a 3-on-1 rush to make it 3-2, then at 6:32 Alexandre Goulet (Brace, Pomerleau) beat Huskies goalie Taran Kozun clean with a wrist shot from the slot to tie, and 25 seconds later Olivier LeBlanc (Murphy, Anderson) let shot go from the point through traffic that hit the post and went in. UNB would hold the lead for about ten minutes until Carson Stadnyk batted the puck out of mid-air from the side of the net to tie it 4-4, which is how it would stay until overtime.

- At 4:14 of the extra session Mark Simpson threw a pass from the corner out front and Goulet just got enough of the puck to tip it into the far side of the cage to give the V-Reds the win. Tristan Pomerleau also assisted on the game winning goal.

- Shots in the game were 38-22 for UNB.

- Despite there being 25 penalties called for 66 minutes in the game, neither team scored a power play goal. UNB went 0 for 9 and Saskatchewan was 0 for 6.

- Goulet (2 goals, 1 assist) and the Huskies Levi Cable (1 goal, 1 assist) were the players of the game.

- The Varsity Reds won 45 out of 77 face-offs. Simpson was 21 for 27 on the day.

- Mark Simpson was named to the all-tournament team.

- Attendance was 2583, which was impressive given the 10AM puck drop.

- UNB improves to 6-0 all-time versus Saskatchewan with every meeting occurring at the University Cup.

- UNB finishes the season with a combined record of 36-3-5 record. This includes a 24-2-4 conference record, 5-0 in the playoffs, 2-0-1 at the University Cup and 5-1 in exhibition play. This is the fewest regulation losses they have ever had in a season. By comparison, they were 35-7-3 last season and 37-6-1-2 in 2016.

- Just a phenomenal accomplishment by this year's team given how much talent they lost after last season and how this was considered to be a "rebuilding" year. There is certainly lots to look forward to moving forward.

- The V-Reds have finished 3rd, 1st, 1st, and 2nd at their last four University Cup tournaments. They will be looking to medal for a 5th straight time next season when the tournament heads to Lethbridge, Alberta.

- In the Gold Medal game the St. FX X-Men let an early 2-0 lead get away from them in a 4-2 loss to the Alberta Golden Bears. Daniel Robertson and Michael Clarke scored for the X-Men in the first 8:52 of the game, but Alberta tied it up before the end of the period with goals from Stephane Legault and Luke Philp 39 seconds apart. Will Tomchuk's goal at 4:18 of the 2nd period proved to be the championship winner with Jamie Crook's empty netter with 1:28 left providing the insurance.

- This is Alberta's record 16th national title.

- Shots were 27-26 for the Golden Bears.

- The two goaltenders - Chase Marchand for the X-Men and Zach Shawchenko - were named the players of the game.

- St. FX went 1 for 6 on the power play, but failed to convert on a pair of 2nd period 5-on-3's. Alberta went 0 for 4.

- Attendance was a sell-out of 3374 although there were a noticeable number of empty seats visible. The actual attendance was probably closer to 2800-3000.

- St. FX is now 1-4 all-time in championship games. Alberta is 16-5.

- Only 6 months until the 2018-2019 season begins!

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Heartbreak On Home Ice

Adam Stevens’ goal with 47 seconds remaining in the first overtime period lifted the #5 seeded St. FX X-Men over the #1 seeded University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds 5-4 in an epic semi-final contest this afternoon at the University Cup, ending the Varsity Reds bid for a three-peat.

- Scoring for the Varsity Reds were Chris Caissy, Tyler Boland, Chris Clapperton, and Mark Simpson.

- The V-Reds went ahead 1-0 early in the game on Caissy's power play goal before giving up two quick ones shortly afterwards from Anthony Difruscia and Santino Centorame. Boland's power play goal late in the 1st period tied it at 2-2 after one period of play.

- After dominating the 2nd period Chris Clapperton finally broke through in the final minute with UNB's third power play goal of the game, giving the home side a 3-2 lead after 40 minutes.

- The X-Men capitalized on their own power play chances in the 3rd period, including a pair of 5-on-3's and a 5 minute major to Olivier LeBlanc, to grab a 4-3 lead. Scoring for St. FX were Holden Cook and Cole MacDonald. Mark Simpson provided the equalizer when he banged in a rebound from the doorstep with just over five minutes remaining in regulation. This set the stage for an overtime period that saw the V-Reds generate the majority of quality scoring chances until the X-Men capitalized on a scramble in front of Alex Dubeau.

- Shots in the game were 46-29 for UNB.

- St. FX went 3 for 7 on the power play. The Varsity Reds were 3 for 6.

- Steven and Clapperton were the player's of the game.

- Attendance was a sell-out of 3374.

- This is the second time St. FX has dashed the V-Reds title hopes in overtime at the AUC. They won their lone title in 2004 with a 3-2 double overtime victory over UNB.

- The X-Men will now move on to face the winner of #2 Alberta and #6 Saskatchewan, which gets underway at 4PM, in tomorrow’s gold medal game. UNB will face the loser of that game in the bronze medal game.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Huskies Top Redmen

The #6 seeded Saskatchewan Huskies secured the last semi-final berth at the 2018 University Cup after getting past the #3 McGill Redmen 4-1 in a physical, hard-hitting affair tonight at the AUC.

The Huskies received goals from Michael Sofillas - on a tap-in at the side of the net 5-on-3 power play at 12:42 of the 1st period - and Connor Cox - from a sharp angle 1:03 into the 2nd period. The Redmen got back into it with a power play goal from Antoine Dufort-Plante on a goalmouth scramble at 17:37 of the 2nd period, setting up an exciting finish. However, the Huskies got a big insurance goal from Carson Stadnyk at 9:58 of the 3rd period and salted the game away with a Kohl Bauml empty netter with 65 seconds remaining.

- Shots in the game were 34-33 for McGill.

- Each team scored a power play goal. The Huskies had 4 opportunities to the Redmen's 5.

- There were a combined 84 penalty minutes in the game. This included 5 10-minute misconducts, all of which were handed out in the 3rd period.

- Both goalies earned player of the game awards. Taran Kozun - who is filling in for two-time U Sports Goaltender of the Year Jordon Cooke, who is injured - for the Huskies and Louis-Philip Guindon for the Redmen.

- Attendance was 2739.

- McGill's loss ends another disappointing showing from OUA teams at the University Cup. They have now gone 0-3 at each of the last three tournaments. Their last win came in 2015 when UQTR rallied for a 6-5 overtime win against Acadia.

- This is the 3rd straight year Saskatchewan will be playing in the semi-finals. They fell in an epic triple overtime game to St. FX in 2016 and of course lost 5-3 in the University Cup final to UNB last year.

- The Golden Bears beat the Huskies 5-2 and 5-1 on home ice to sweep the best 2-of-3 Canada West Final earlier this month. Unlike the AUS and OUA playoffs, in Canada West every game of a series is played at the home of the lower seeded team.

- Alberta won the season series against Saskwatchewan as well, winning 3 out of the 4 games.

- Tomorrow's semi-finals are now set and they not only feature a pair of regional rivalries, but also rematches from the conference finals. At 12PM it will be the UNB Varsity Reds versus the St. FX X-Men and then at 4PM Fredericton fans will get to see arguably the only rivalry in the country that is more heated when the Alberta Golden Bears face the Saskatchewan Huskies. Both games will be broadcast on Sportsnet 360.