Saturday, February 9, 2019

Tigers Push Reds In Finale

Despite entering the game 36 points behind the conference-leading University of New Brunswick Reds, the last place Dalhousie Tigers gave UNB all they could handle tonight at the AUC in the final game of the regular season. The Reds needed a last minute goal and an empty netter to escape with a hard-fought 4-2 victory, which gives them a final record of 25-2-3 on the season.

The visitors scored the only goal of the opening period even though they were out-shot 18-10. At 4:23 Jonathan Cyr got a couple of whacks at the puck at the side of the net before finally getting it past goaltender Rylan Parenteau. The 1st period shutout broke a streak of ten consecutive periods in which the Reds had scored.

The two teams traded power play goals in the middle frame. Connor Welsh made it 2-0 for the Tigers when he beat Parenteau cleanly with a shot from the high slot at 16:01, but Matthew Boucher (Rassell, Brace) answered 80 seconds later when he got the last touch on a scramble in front of the net. Shots in the period were 11-4 for UNB.

The Reds hit the post twice in the opening minutes of the 3rd period. These were sandwiched around an Oliver Cooper (Murphy, Boucher) goal at the 2:00 minute mark. Cooper's attempted wrap-around was stopped, but he stayed with the play and deposited his own rebound past Connor Hicks. Each team then got a power play opportunity in the latter half of the period. The Tigers came up empty on a Tyler Boland penalty at 13:47 and then UNB had their chance at 17:52 after Campbell Pickard got called for hooking. Kris Bennett (Clapperton, Simpson) made Dalhousie pay as he pulled the puck off the end boards after a missed shot and beat Hicks in a race to the side of the net, stuffing the puck in before the goaltender could come across to give the Reds their first lead of the game at 18:47. Matt Murphy (Anderson, Simpson) sealed the victory with a spinning shot from deep in his own end that found the empty net 30 seconds later. The goal was UNB's 150th - and final - goal of the regular season. The Reds out-shot the Tigers 22-9 in the period.

- UNB went with the same line-up as last night as Noah Carroll, Samuel Dove-McFalls, and Alexandre Goulet were all scratched.

- Shots in the game were 51-23 for the Reds. This was actually the fewest shots UNB had in a game against the Tigers this season. They had 293 shots on goal - or 58.6 per game - in winning all five games against Dalhousie this year.

- UNB went 2 for 7 on the power play. The Tigers were 1 for 5.

- The Reds dominated the face-offs in the game, winning 50 out of 78. Mark Simpson was once again the star, taking 19 out of his 29 chances.

- Rylan Parenteau picked up his 11th win of the season in net to go along with a conference-best 1.89 GAA.

- Tyler Boland picked up more penalty minutes tonight (16) than he did in the first 29 games of the season (14).

- Matthew Boucher was named the player of the game. The two goalies - Parenteau and Hicks - were the other two stars.

- The Reds starting line-up consisted of their graduating players - 5th year forwards Matt Boudens and Cameron Brace, 4th year forward Chris Clapperton, 5th year defenceman Randy Gazzola, and 4th year defenceman Marcus McIvor.

- Attendance was 3374 on Northside Elementary School night and Home Depot night.

- Saint Mary's forward Hunter Garlent made a valiant attempt at the scoring title with four points tonight, but Chris Clapperton held on, finishing with 47 points to Garlent's 45. UPEI's Kameron Kielly was the only other player to crack the 40 point plateau with 43.

- UNB run their winning streak versus the Tigers to 31 games. Although they swept the season series, every game with the exception of the first one (a 7-0 win) was close entering the 3rd period.

- This is the 2nd time in three years UNB has finished the season with a 25-2-3 season. They are now 97-9-12 over the past four regular seasons.

- The Reds ended the season with a 13-0-2 record at home. They are 55-1-3 in home regular season games in the last four seasons.

- Elsewhere around the conference tonight, the UPEI Panthers defeated St. FX 4-1 at home in a game that was 2-1 with 10 minutes remaining. In Halifax, the Saint Mary's Huskies beat the Moncton Aigles Bleus 7-3.

- The final standings look like this:

UNB - 25-2-3 = 53 points
SMU - 19-10-1 = 39
SFX - 15-12-3 = 33
UPEI - 15-2-3 = 33 
UdeM - 14-12-4 = 32
ACA - 10-17-3 = 23
DAL - 7-22-1 = 15 

NOTE - St. FX finishes ahead of UPEI based on head-to-head results (3 wins to 2).

- The AUS playoffs begin this week with the best 2-of-3 quarter-final round featuring #4 UPEI vs. #5 UdeM and, in a series we are sure the AUS is thrilled with, #3 St. FX vs. #6 Acadia.

- The Reds - along with Saint Mary's - get a first round bye and will face the lowest remaining seed in a best 3-of-5 semi-final. The series will begin with games 1 and 2 at the AUC on Thursday, February 21st and Friday, February 22nd. 

Friday, February 8, 2019

Reds Take Care Of Business

The severely understaffed St. FX X-Men played a good opening period but, as expected, couldn't keep up with the deeper, fresher University of New Brunswick Reds, dropping an 8-2 decision on Military Appreciation Night at the AUC in a game that was, understandably, lacking the intensity of a typical match-up between the two rivals. UNB moves to 24-2-3 on the season while the X-Men's 15-11-3 record has them clinging to 3rd place by a point.

It looked like the Reds would take any possibility of drama out of the game early with Kris Bennett (LeBlanc, Clapperton) tipping in a point shot for a power play goal at 5:16 and Stephen Anderson (Rassell, Watling) taking a short pass in the slot and beating Blade Mann-Dixon with a wrist shot 65 seconds later. Playing with only 12 skaters, the X-Men's strategy was very apparent from the get-go as they sat back defensively and hoped to turn either a blocked shot or a turnover into a counter-attack. The latter worked to perfection at 15:48 when Holden Cook took a pass on an odd man rush and picked the top right corner to make it 2-1. UNB quickly snuffed out any potential momentum though, as Cam Brace (Clapperton, LeBlanc) was hit with a pass in stride through the neutral zone, got behind the defense, and sifted a snap shot into the top of the net at 17:50. The Reds would take the 3-1 lead into the intermission after out-shooting their visitors 11-8.

The final forty minutes were all UNB as the X-Men tired. Olivier LeBlanc (Gazzola, Clapperton) got his first goal of the season 1:46 into the 2nd period after some extensive offensive zone pressure to make it 4-1 only to see Cook strike again, this time on a nice back-door play on the power play, at 4:01 to cut the deficit back to two. However, goals by Tyler Boland (Clapperton, Brace) on a short two-on-one that began at the X-Men blue-line at 10:18 and Marcus McIvor (Simpson, Cooper) at 16:30 ensured their would be no miracle on this night. Matthew Boucher, from Bennett and Watling 34 seconds into the 3rd period and Boland (Brace, Gatenby), with his second of the night after some nice passing around the crease, at 5:12 rounded out the scoring. Shots favoured UNB 38-5 over the last two periods - 20-1 in the 2nd and 18-4 in the 3rd.

- Tristan Pomerleau was back in the line-up for the first time since January 5th, replacing Noah Carroll on the back-end. Alexandre Goulet and Samuel Dove-McFalls both remained out.

- Shots in the game were 49-13.

- St. FX went 1 for 3 on the power play. UNB was 1 for 5.

- The Reds won 36 out of 59 face-offs with Mark Simpson leading the way with 14 wins in 20 chances.

- The X-Men blocked 13 shots to UNB's 3.

- Alex Dubeau picked up his 14th win of the season.

- Olivier LeBlanc was named the recipient of the Fallen Soldier Award as the player of the game.

- Of the 12 players dressed for the X-Men, one had yet to play this season (Marcus Cuomo) and one was their team therapist (Giovanni Akeson), who probably never imagined he would be playing in an AUS game. St. FX only had two natural defencemen dressed - Adam Holwell and Daniel Robertson.

- Chase Marchand replaced Mann-Dixon twice in the 3rd period, both times briefly. He stopped all six shots her faced in 2:39 of action.

- UNB wore their new 'Dark Camo' jerseys for Military Appreciation Night.

- Attendance was 3236.

- With four assists tonight Christopher Clapperton now leads UPEI's Kameron Kielly and Saint Mary’s Hunter Garlent by five points in the scoring race with one game remaining for all three.

- LeBlanc had 24 assists this season before getting off the schneid with his 2nd period tally.

- With the win UNB takes the season series versus the X-Men three games to two. It is the 10th straight year they have won the season series against St. FX, compiling a 34-6-3 regular season record in that span.

- In other AUS action tonight the UPEI Panthers defeated Dalhousie 5-2 in Charlottetown and Moncton got a late goal to slip past Acadia 2-1 in Wolfville.

- Tonight's results mean there is still lots to be decided tomorrow in terms of the standings. UNB and Saint Mary's have clinched the 1st and 2nd spots and have both earned a first round playoff bye. At the other end of the spectrum Acadia is locked in 6th place and Dalhousie will finish in 7th. However, spots 3-5 are still very much up for grabs. Heading into the final night of the regular season St. FX sits at 33 points, Moncton has 32, and UPEI has 31. The X-Men have the tie-breaker over both teams while the Panthers have the tie-breaker over the Aigles Bleus.

- Tomorrow night Moncton travels to Halifax to face Saint Mary's and UPEI hosts St. FX.

- Meanwhile, the Reds play their final regular season game of the season against the Dalhousie Tigers. It is 'Northside Elementary School Night' and 'Home Depot Night' at the AUC. Game time is 7PM.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Rassell Article

Ryan McCracken of the Medicine Hat News recently talked with former Medicine Hat Tiger forward, and recently-named UNB male athlete of the week, Mark Rassell. Among the topics covered include a milestone for a former teammate, his rookie season with the Reds, and what it would mean to play in the University Cup in his home province.

You can read the full article here.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

St. FX/Acadia Suspensions Announced

The AUS has announced the first wave of suspensions stemming from Saturday night's bench brawl between the Acadia Axemen and St. FX X-Men. As expected, they are plentiful with a total of nine X-Men, six Axemen, and both head coaches being assessed a total of 39 games in automatic suspensions. 

The affected participants include the following:

Acadia Axemen

  • Rodney Southam: Subsequent fight - 2 games
  • Owen MacDonald: Leaving the bench during a fight - 2 games
  • Ross MacDougall: Leaving the bench during a fight - 2 games
  • Cole Reginato: Leaving the bench during a fight (2 games) + Subsequent fight (2 games) = 4 games total
  • Loch Morrison - Throwing Stick = 2 games
  • Darren Burns (Head Coach): Game Misconduct (1 game) + first player leaving bench (1 game) = 2 games
St. FX X-Men
  • Regan Spears: Instigating a fight (1 game) + fighting (1 game) = 2 games total
  • Sam Studnicka: Subsequent fight - 2 games
  • William Thompson: Subsequent fight - 2 games
  • Nathan Pancel: Leaving the bench during a fight - 2 games
  • Mark Tremaine: Leaving the bench during a fight - 2 games
  • William Bower: Leaving the bench during a fight - 2 games
  • Bailey Webster: Leaving the bench during a fight - 2 games
  • Cole MacDonald: Leaving the bench during a fight - 2 games
  • Aaron Hoyles: Leaving the bench during a fight (2 games) + 3rd man into a fight (2 games) + second game misconduct in same season (1 game) = 5 games total
  • Brad Peddle (Head Coach): Game Misconduct (1 game) + second game misconduct in same season (1 game) = 2 games total

It should be noted that all of these suspensions are automatic and are in accordance to the AUS rule book and playing regulations. 

Additionally, it was also announced that five student athletes (Southam, O. MacDonald, Tremaine, and Hoyles) as well as three coaches (Burns, Peddle, and Acadia assistant Kris MacDonald) will be subject to an in-depth secondary review process and are subject to supplementary discipline. The AUS hopes to conclude this review within the next month. 

Obviously, this news will have a huge impact on Friday night's UNB/St. FX game as the X-Men will be playing with a very short bench. According to the AUS website they have 22 skaters listed on their roster, but only 20 have suited up (Forward Marcus Cuomo played 16 games in his first two seasons but hasn't dressed yet this season and defenceman Mitchell Wheaton hasn't played in two year due to injuries). Out of the 20 players that have actually played a game for them this season, the following 11 players will be available for Friday:
  • D Adam Holwell
  • D Santino Centorame
  • D Daniel Robertson
  • F Holden Cook
  • F Matt Needham
  • F Adam Stevens
  • F Lane Cormier
  • F Matthew Graham
  • F Bryson Cianfrone
  • F Anthony Difruscia
  • F Adam Laishram
If we assume Cuomo will see his first action of the season, that will mean St. FX will have a maximum of 12 players dressed. Of course, this doesn't take into account players that have been injured recently. Centorame, Graham, and Laishram all missed the Acadia game due to injuries and it is unknown whether any will be back by Friday. Goaltender Chase Marchand - the reigning AUS MVP - has also been banged up and has missed the last handful of games.

It will be interesting to see how St. FX decides to handle this, but however you slice it, they are going to be in tough. 

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

St. FX/Acadia Update

In the aftermath of Saturday night's brawl between the St. FX X-Men and Acadia Axemen in Wolfville - which has since gained national attention with CBC, CTV, TSN, Yahoo! Sports, and Barstool Sports all picking up the story - details are beginning to emerge as to what exactly set off the fireworks, and they aren't pretty.

Here is a statement that was released by X-Men coach Brad Peddle and forward Sam Studnicka last evening that explain the events leading up to the melee:

Shortly after claiming they would not comment on the situation, Acadia put out their own press release in response:
AUS executive director Phil Currie has already stated that "the culture in hockey, 'chirping', as they call it, is commonplace and often players will chirp at each other. Based on what I understand, if this is the case, this is well over the line of what one would call chirping."

We don't want to speculate too much, but if the above allegations from St. FX are proven to be accurate (that this happened - and has been happening for the better part of three years with nothing being done to attempt to stop it), we could see some very severe punishment handed out to Acadia beyond the suspensions that will be assessed strictly because of hockey-related reasons.

Speaking of suspensions, according to the Halifax Chronicle Herald, "judgement day is coming for the Acadia and St. Francis Xavier men's hockey teams" Wednesday when "several automatic suspensions...are expected to be released."

Currie had suggested yesterday that not all of the suspensions may be announced right away, saying "our commissioner is working hard at getting the automatic sanctions done within the next 24 gours or so with a game looming Wednesday, Acadia at Saint Mary's. Others that need more investigations may take a bit longer. There is a lot to unpack with this incident."

We will keep you updated as the number and length of suspensions will not only affect UNB's next game - against St. FX on Friday night - but possibly the playoffs as well.