Monday, February 27, 2017

Huskies Force Game 4

Cole Cheveldave turned aside 48 out of 50 shots as the Saint Mary's Huskies staved off elimination with a 3-2 victory over the visiting University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds 3-2 tonight in Halifax. The V-Reds hold a 2 games to 1 series lead in the best 3-of-5 semi-final series.

- Cam Braes (Maillet, Clapperton) opened the scoring 7:43 into the contest with a wrist shot from the top of the face-off circle.

- After that it was all Cole Cheveldave as he weathered the constant storm of shots directed his way and allowed his teammates to take advantage of three of their limited chances. Anothony Repaci (8:27 of the 1st period), Kyle Pereira (9:27 of the 1st period), and Bronson Beaton (7:06 of the 3rd period) all struck for the Huskies to open up a 3-1 lead.

- Francis Beauvillier (Caissy, Anderson) gave the Varsity Reds a glimmer of hope with a goal with 1:53 remaining, but a late penalty negated any serious chance of a comeback.

- Shots were 50-16 for UNB.

- The V-Reds won 47 out of 83 face-offs.

- The number of penalties continued to be a problem for UNB as SMU went 1 for 8 on the power play. The Varsity Reds went 0 for 4.

- Captain Kyle Pereira returned to the line-up for Saint Mary's, but they still dressed only 14 out of a possible 18 skaters.

- Etienne Marcoux took the loss in goal.

- The Varsity Reds struggles on the road against Saint Mary's continue. They have now lost 15 out of their last 23 road games against the Huskies, including 4 straight playoff games and all 3 games this season.

- 3 out of UNB's 6 losses this year have come against SMU at the Halifax Forum.

- In the other semi-final series, St. FX rallied from a 4-1 3rd period deficit to beat Acadia 5-4 in overtime. The X-Men sweep the series and move on to the AUS Final where they will look to defend their title. They have also earned a trip to the University Cup, joining Canada West finalists Alberta and Saskatchewan, and host UNB as the first four teams to punch their ticket. Meanwhile, Acadia waits and hopes they will get a second chance in a 3rd place series against Saint Mary's.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Varsity Reds Wear Down Huskies

The #1 ranked University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds received a better effort from the visiting Saint Mary's Huskies tonight, but the V-Reds pulled away for a 7-3 victory to take a 2 games to 0 series lead in the best 3-of-5 AUS semi-final.

After a scoreless first period in which UNB out-shot SMU 13-6, the two teams exploded for six goals in the middle frame. The Varsity Reds opened the scoring at 3:48 when Randy Gazzola floated a shot from the blue line into the top corner after a clean face-off win by Cam Braes and then doubled their lead just 95 seconds later after Rob Mignardi (Halley, Beauvillier) found himself all alone in front of the net to redirect a centering pass. However, just when it looked like the game was going to turn into a rout, the shorthanded Huskies showed their resiliency by tying the game up with two quick goals of their own - the first by Anthony Repaci, converting a beautiful feed from AUS rookie of the year Hunter Garlent on a 2-on-1 at 7:32, and then by Francis Menard, firing the puck into a wide open net from the side of the cage at 10:20, just seconds after their power play had expired. Although it may have seemed improbable, the game was tied just over halfway through. The V-Reds quickly extinguished any momentum the Huskies may have been building, though, as Stephen Anderson dug the puck out of the SMU corner after a defender had blown a tire and found Chris Caissy streaking down the slot. Caissy made an nice deke before roofing the puck up and over Cole Cheveldave to restore the lead at 11:12. The turning point of the game came at 15:58. UNB took three penalties in a 3:01 span, forcing them to kill off an 11 second and then 48 second 5-on-3. Just after killing off the latter two man disadvantage Matt Boudens came out of the penalty box, went in to the offensive zone on the forecheck, and got hauled down without a call (much to the chagrin of the large crowd who had witnessed five straight SMU power plays at that point). Boudens stuck with the play and forced a turnover, gaining control of the puck in front of the net and roofing it for a shorthanded goal to extend the lead to 4-2. The period would end with the Huskies holding an 11-10 shot advantage.

The V-Reds finally got a chance on the power play - only their second of the game up to this point - in the early going of the 3rd period and it only took 7 seconds for Philippe Maillet (Mignardi, Clapperton) to jam the puck in during a scramble in front to make it 5-2. More penalty trouble for UNB led to the Huskies getting that one back. Just 4 seconds after killing off another 5-on-3 Anthony Repaci poked the puck past Etienne Marcoux for a power play goal that was made worse when Jordan Murray took an unsportsmanlike penalty at the same time, sending the Huskies right back to the man advantage. The Varsity Reds penalty killing came through with the big kill to keep it a two goal game and they put it away with a pair of goals in the final two minutes. Maillet (Critchlow, Petgrave) notched his second of the night into an empty net tally at 18:05 and Matt Murphy (Anderson) put the icing on the cake when he spun and fired a loose puck from the slot past Cheveldave at 19:21. Shots in the period were 15-6 for UNB.

- The V-Reds went with the same line-up as last night as Cam Brace, Mike Thomas, Oliver Cooper, and Peter Trainor were all scratched.

- The Huskies played with only 13 skaters.

- Shots ended up 38-23 for UNB.

- Etienne Marcoux stopped 20 shots out of 23 to pick up the victory.

- Saint Mary's went 1 for 9 on the power play while UNB scored once on only three opportunities.

- UNB won 42 out of 79 face-offs.

- Mignardi, Repaci, and Boudens were named the game's three stars.

- Attendance was a solid 2986.

- UNB has now won 9 out of their last 10 playoff games at the AUC.

- They have won 8 straight home games over the Huskies.

- They are 20-0-0 at home this season.

- The St. FX X-Men have also grabbed a 2-0 series lead as they defeated Acadia 4-2 tonight in Wolfville in the other semi-final.

- UNB will look to punch their ticket to the AUS Final on Monday night when game 3 goes in Halifax. Game time is scheduled for 7PM.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

V-Reds Too Much For Shorthanded Huskies

The #1 ranked University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds did not show any signs of rust in their first playoff game after a first round bye as they were in complete control all game long in a 5-1 victory over the visiting Saint Mary's Huskies tonight at the AUC. UNB leads the best 3-of-5 semi-final 1 game to 0.

The Huskies, playing with only 15 skaters to begin the game, looked like a team who had just came off of a grueling playoff series and were playing a well-rested - and well-oiled - team in the first period. The V-Reds out-shot Saint Mary's 16-3 and struck for a pair of goals to quickly set the tone for the night. UNB got on the board 3:51 into the contest while shorthanded when noted playoff performer Philippe Halley (Petgrave) took a pass in the neutral zone and had a breakaway from the centre line. Halley made a move to get goaltender Erik Brassard moving from right to left and slid a backhanded shot along the ice between Brassard's legs. Things quickly went from bad to worse for the Huskies shortly after the goal when they lost their best defenceman Kyle Pereira for the game with an apparent lower body injury after he was the recipient of a Jordan Murray kneeing penalty. UNB was able to double the lead at 17:26 when Francis Beauvillier (Mignardi, Halley) finished off a nice cross-ice feed from Rob Mignardi by roofing the puck up and over Brassard's shoulder from just outside the crease.

Things didn't get any better for the visitors in the middle frame with the V-Reds holding a 15-5 shot advantage and striking for three more goals. Just 1:41 into the period Christopher Caissy (Gazzola) scored arguably the goal of the year when he picked up a loose puck in the neutral zone and stickhandled around and through the defence before roofing a backhanded shot into the top corner to make it 3-0. Just over 9 minutes later Beauvillier (Gazzola) scored his second of the game after he skated down the right side, got around a defender, and once again beat Brassard with a perfectly placed shot into the top corner on the short side. The V-Reds kept applying pressure and at 13:36 Cam Braes (McIvor, Maillet) was rewarded after a long shift in the offensive zone with a deflection of a Marcus McIvor blast from the point. Saint Mary's finally got on the board 80 seconds later on a bit of a confusing play as Francis Menard knocked the puck out of the air and in after Etienne Marcoux made the original stop. One referee originally waved off the goal, but the call was reversed and the goal stood. It proved to be much too little and much too late on this night for the Huskies. The two teams skated through a fairly uneventful final period with UNB out-shooting SMU 9-6.

- Cameron Brace, Mike Thomas, Oliver Cooper, and Peter Trainor were all scratched for UNB.

- In addition to Pereira, the Huskies also lost defenseman Adam Bateman in the 2nd period and he never returned, meaning they finished the game with only 13 out of 18 possible skaters.

- Final shots were 40-14.

- UNB also won 51 out of 78 face-offs with Dylan Willick (10 out of 12), Cam Braes (10 out of 17), and Mark Simpson (13 out of 19) all having excellent nights.

- If there was one thing to nitpick it was UNB's power play. They went 0 for 6 on the night. The penalty killing was superb, though. SMU was 0 for 5 with the man advantage.

- Marcoux stopped 13 out of 14 shots to improve his career postseason record to 7-2.

- Beauvillier, Halley, and Caissy were named the game's three stars.

- Here is Caissy's goal (courtesy Victor Findlay):

- Attendance was 2523.

- In game 1 of the other semi-final tonight, defenceman Cole MacDonald scored in double overtime to lift the visiting St. FX X-Men over the Acadia Axemen.

- The series resumes tomorrow night with the Varsity Reds looking to take a stranglehold on the series. Puck drop is scheduled for 7PM at the AUC.

Maillet Named MVP, Other Varsity Reds Honoured

The AUS has announced the 2016-2017 men's hockey major award winners and all-stars and the Varsity Reds are well represented.

- Forward Philippe Maillet was awarded the Kelly Trophy as most valuable player following a season in which he led the country in scoring with 23 goals and 32 assists. He is the 4th V-Red to earn this award and the first to do so twice, having also accomplished the feat in 2014-2015. Maillet will now represent the conference as the AUS nominee for the Senator Joseph A. Sullivan trophy as the U Sports MVP.

- Maillet and Jordan Murray were both named first team all-stars for the third consecutive year. Joining them are goaltender Chase Marchand (St. FX), forwards Hunter Garlent (Saint Mary's), Jean-Francois Plante (Moncton), and defenceman Geoff Schemitsch (Acadia).

- Cam Braes and Etienne Marcoux were named second team all-stars, the first such honour for each. They are joined by forwards Eric Locke (St. FX) and Alex Saulnier (Moncton) and defencemen Matthew Pufahl (Acadia) and Jagger Dirk (St. FX).

- Defenceman Matt Murphy was named to the all-rookie team alongside goaltender Chase Marchand (St. FX), forwards Hunter Garlent (Saint Mary's), Stephen Harper (Acadia), and Bronson Beaton (Saint Mary's), and defenceman Cole MacDonald (St. FX).

- Gardiner MacDougall has been named the recipient of the Bob Boucher Trophy as coach of the year for the 5th time. He will now be the AUS nominee for the Father George Kehoe Memorial Award as the U Sports coach of the year, an award he has won twice previously (2009-2010 and 2014-2015).

- Other award winners include Saint Mary's Hunter Garlent (A.J. MacAdam Trophy as rookie of the year), Acadia's Geoff Schemitsch (Don Well Trophy as the most sportsmanlike player), and St. FX's Eric Locke (The Godfrey Award for student-athlete community service).

Monday, February 20, 2017

AUS Semi-Final: #1 UNB vs. #4 Saint Mary's

The AUS and U Sports #1 ranked University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds will get their playoffs started this Thursday night when they welcome the AUS #4 ranked Saint Mary's Huskies to the AUC in game 1 of the best 3-of-5 semi-finals.

The Huskies are fresh off of a dramatic, hard fought three game series win over the UPEI Panthers in the quarter-finals. Rookie of the year favourite Hunter Garlent netted the series clinching goal with only 32 seconds remaining in regulation to propel Saint Mary's to the next round and a date with the V-Reds.

This series could prove to be tighter than most may predict as the Huskies were the only team to defeat UNB twice this season. However, home-ice advantage may prove to be the difference. Saint Mary's won both games in Halifax by a goal - 3-2 on November 26th and 4-3 in OT on January 13th, while UNB won each of the three games at the AUC by a comfortable margin - 5-0 on November 5th, 8-3 on December 2nd, and 5-2 on January 20th.

A few notes:

- The full series schedule is as follows:

Game 1 - Thursday, February 23th at UNB
Game 2 - Friday, February 24th at UNB
Game 3 - Monday, February 27th at SMU
Game 4 - Tuesday, February 28th at SMU (*if necessary)
Game 5 - Thursday, March 2nd at UNB (*if necessary)

- This marks the 6th playoff series between the two teams since Gardiner MacDougall became head coach.

- UNB has emerged victorious in 3 of the previous 5 series.

- UNB has won 8 out of 14 games, although the Huskies have won 6 out of the last 9.

- The V-Reds are 6-2 at the AUC and 2-4 at the Forum.

- Interestingly, the teams have combined for only 57 goals in the 14 playoff games. The average score has been 2.2 (UNB) - 1.9 (SMU).

- There have been five games that went to overtime.

- Only one of the previous series was a best 3-of-5.

- Here is the recent history:

2003: UNB defeated SMU 2 games to 0 (2-0, 3-1) in quarter-finals
2008: UNB defeated SMU 2 games to 0 (3-2 OT, 3-2 OT2) in finals
2009: SMU defeated UNB 2 games to 1 (1-5, 3-2, 5-1) in finals
2013: UNB defeated SMU 2 games to 1 (1-0 OT, 2-5, 2-0) in finals
2014: SMU defeated UNB 3 games to 1 (2-1 OT2, 2-5, 2-1 OT2, 1-0)

- The Huskies can guarantee themselves a berth at the University Cup with a series win. However, if they lose they will get another chance as they will play a series against the loser of the Acadia/St. FX to determine the conference's third entry into the tournament.

- Acadia and St. FX will follow the same schedule as UNB/SMU.

- Who do you got? Make your prediction below:

UNB/SMU - Who Wins?

UNB in 3
UNB in 4
UNB in 5
SMU in 3
SMU in 4
SMU in 5