Monday, March 2, 2009

UNB 5 - Acadia 2 Game Capsule

Sunday, March 1, 2009

For a team that hasn’t played since February 14th, the University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds looked pretty sharp as they cruised to a 5-2 victory over the Acadia Axemen, taking the first game in their best-of-five AUS men’s hockey semi-finals. UNB was idle due to their first round playoff bye and Acadia swept StFX in two games to win their quarter final to advance and meet the Varsity Reds. The big story of the night was the domination of UNB’s big line; with Kevin Henderson (Toronto, ON) scoring four goals and linemate Jimmy Cuddihy (Aylmer, QC) scoring the other while Hunter Tremblay (Timmins, ON) had three assists. Cuddihy also added two assists as the line was just too much to handle all night for the Acadia defenders.

Acadia goaltender Kristofer Westblom (Meadow Lake, SK) withstood the initial flurry as UNB came out flying of the gates to start the game. Midway through the period Cuddihy with one hand on his stick passed the puck behind the net to Tremblay while he fought off an Acadia defender. Tremblay then fired back across the slot to Henderson who banged in the puck for the goal. That ended up being the only goal of the period as UNB outshot Acadia 15-9.

In the second period UNB got an early power play and Cuddihy made the best of a missed pass as he walked out of the corner and had three whacks at the puck before finally getting it by Westblom at 1:10. At 4:46 UNB had a golden opportunity to extend their lead after Acadia captain Paul McFarland (Richmond Hill, ON) was given a five minute major penalty and a game misconduct for an elbow to the head of UNB defenceman Bretton Stamler (Edmonton, AB). Stamler went to the dressing room after the hit and did not return to the game until the third period. Credit the Axemen penalty kill, as the Varsity Reds were not able to score during the five minute man advantage. Midway through the period the Axemen found themselves on a two-on-one after UNB defenceman Jonathan Harty (Oromocto, NB) laid a big hit on David Lomas (Burlington, ON) at the blue line. UNB goaltender Travis Fullerton (Riverview, NB) stayed with the puck carrier Tyler Whitehead (Bedford, NS), who then laid a perfect pass over to Ryan Graham (Mount Pearl, NL) for the tap in goal. The goal put some spark in the Acadia play for a while, but this was snuffed out with two minutes to go in the period with the V-Reds shorthanded when Henderson fought off two Acadia defenders to drive the net, and then worked a give an go with Tremblay when he caught up to the play, before putting the puck past Westblom. UNB outshot Acadia 11-6 in the second period.

The third period was more of the same, as UNB continued to control the play. At 3:32 UNB captain Dustin Friesen (Waldheim, SK), celebrating his 26th birthday, wired a point shot that Henderson tipped past Westblom to make it 4-1. At 5:54 Acadia drew within two goals on the power play, as Graham, playing the point, ripped a one-timer past Fullerton. UNB got this goal back five minutes later on the power play when Luke Lynes (Rochester Hills, MI) blasted a shot from the top of the circle that yet again Henderson was able to tip past the Acadia goaltender. That was all of the scoring in the period that saw some rough stuff at 17:38 after Acadia’s Paul Kucerba (Calgary, AB) chopped down Lynes at the edge of the Axemen crease. UNB’s Kyle Bailey (Ponoka, AB) and Chris Hodgson (Fredericton, NB) and Acadia’s Lomas and James Klie (Harrow, ON) all picked up roughing minors in the spirited ruckus, with Hodgson getting an extra two minutes and a ten minute misconduct. UNB outshot Acadia 16-4 in the third period, and 42-19 in the game.

The attendance was 1683 at the Aitken University Centre, which less than 24 hours beforehand had been a volleyball venue for the CIS women’s national championship, won by the UBC Thunderbirds in a thrilling five set victory over the Calgary Dinos. A crew of 36, mostly students, worked all Saturday night to restore the rink, which was ready for a UNB hockey practice at 10:00 a.m. Sunday.

In the pregame faceoff ceremony there was two presentations: retiring UNB president John MacLaughlin and his wife were both presented UNB hockey jerseys by team captain Dustin Friesen. Friesen in turn was given a photo montage plaque by Dr. MacLauglin in recognition of Dustin playing a UNB record 137 regular season games over his five year career with the team.

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