Saturday, January 30, 2010

UNB defeats SMU to extend streak to 22 wins and clinch first place

FREDERICTON -- A sell-out crowd of 3742 at the Aitken University Centre Friday night ignored the tail end of a snowstorm to watch the University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds men's hockey team defeat the Saint Mary's Huskies 3-1 and run their undefeated streak to 22 wins. No doubt many fans were attracted to the game to witness Mike Danton's first road game in a Huskies uniform, but what everyone saw was for the most part a tight, defensive game – certainly in the last two periods.

The game start was pushed back 15 minutes, as the Huskies had arrived later than planned due to the poor driving conditions the entire way from Halifax. SMU was greeted by a UNB team that came flying out of the gate and dominated the early play while Brandon Verge (Fall River, NS) was strong in the Huskies' nets. Verge had been pulled in the second periods of his last two games against the Varsity Reds, so SMU coach Trevor Steinburg obviously still has confidence in his veteran goalie. There was not scoring in the period that saw UNB outshoot SMU 14-6.

Early in the second period Mike Danton (Brampton, ON) got called for hooking on UNB defenceman Bretton Stamler (Edmonton, AB) and on the ensuing power play John Scott Dickson (Barrie, ON) was parked in front of the Huskies net when he tipped Hunter Tremblay's (Timmins, ON) shot through Verge's pads for his 15th goal of the season at 1:49. The period then settled into more or less a defensive battle, with just a few good scoring chances -- such as Shawn O'Donnell's (Halifax,NS) short breakaway attempt after a UNB turnover that V-Reds netminder Travis Fullerton (Riverview, NB) handled with cool poise around the 13 minute mark. Then at 17:49 Lachlan MacIntosh (Perth-Andover, NB) received a pass from behind the Huskies net and seemingly had all the time in the world to deke out Verge and put UNB up 2-0. Saint Mary's edged the V-Reds 8-6 in shots in the period.

Just 26 seconds into the third period Dion Campbell (Melville, SK) scored, but the goal was waived off as UNB captain Kyle Bailey (Ponoka, AB) had been assessed a tripping penalty on the play. The Varsity Reds got the goal back shorthanded when Verge got his pocket picked while playing the puck behind his net and Hunter Tremblay scored on the wraparound at 1:40. It was Tremblay's team-leading 16th goal of the season, and third shorthanded. The Huskies got on the scoreboard at 7:44 when sniper Cody Thorton (Woodstock, ON) took a nice feed from SMU captain Marc Rancourt (Gloucester, ON) and beat Fullerton as he came across the net. Unfortunately for the Huskies, that was their best scoring chance of the period, as the Varsity Reds relentlessly chased the puck and smothered the Huskies.

The final score was 3-1, while UNB had 28 shots in the game and limited the Huskies to 18. UNB was 1-for-3 on the power play while SMU went 0-for-5, the second game in a row they have held scoreless with the man advantage. The player of the game was John Scott Dickson.

After the game SMU head coach Trevor Stienburg was asked by reporters how he expected the crowd for Mike Danton's first road game, he replied, "I lived in Fredericton. If somebody asked me how Fredericton fans were going to treat him, I would have said they'll treat him with respect just like they do everybody else." After Steinburg requested that reporters stick to hockey questions, Danton faced the scrum and stated that for as how he felt after the game, that "the score on the clock should indicate that. Obviously, I don't like losing. We've lost two in a row and that's pretty much how I feel." He added that “the last two games we just haven't worked as a team and it's resulted in two losses. Between the top three teams - UNB, Acadia and us - any one of those teams can win a game against each other on any given night. It's not clear cut."

When asked about adjusting to playing hockey after his well documented six years away from the game, the 29 year old Danton stuck to his team-first theme. “One thing I've always taken pride in is my conditioning and my ability to stay in shape. But the focal point here is not individual play. As a team, we're just not winning right now."

Saturday night the Varsity Reds host second place Acadia Axemen. With Acadia losing 5-3 to UPEI Friday night, and only six games left in the regular season, UNB holds the edge in a tie in the standing with their previous three win head-to-head and thus have clinched first place and secured home ice throughout the AUS playoffs, in addition to the first round bye.


Anonymous said...

Heard acadia is stuck on the island as the bridge is closed.

Ken C said...

I checked the Confederation Bridge website around 10 am and it was open...just checked again...still open. I don't think it's that bad? Maybe there was a rough patch?

Steven C. said...

Was talking to my family, as I am from down there, bridge is open and traffic is flowing.

Bridge was closed this morning, but open now.

David Kilfoil said...

In an e-mail earlier this afternoon Maureen Sparks told me that Acadia got on the bridge around 1:00 pm and that there was a chance tonight's game might be a bit late starting.