Friday, February 26, 2010

StFX upsets UNB 3-2

FREDERICTON – The reigning CIS champion University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds were upset by the StFX X-Men 3-2 in men’s hockey action at the Aitken University Centre Thursday evening. StFX, the only team to beat UNB in AUS regular season play, stuck to their same game plan of playing tight defensive hockey and being opportunistic when they got their chances. For most of the match the X-Men clogged up the neutral zone, lined up at their blue line, and sent only one forechecker into the UNB zone. The V-Reds are a puck possession team, so StFX were content to let UNB bring the puck to them, and did a good job all night interrupting or containing breakouts in the neutral zone, plus waiting to pounce on turnovers.

Over 1800 fans tore themselves away from watching the Canada-USA women’s gold medal game at home on television to attend the first game of the UNB-StFX semi-final playoff series at the AUC. It was six days since StFX had swept UPEI in two games in the first round of the AUS playoffs, and twelve days since UNB finished their regular season and had the first-round bye. As a result there may have been some rust on the UNB squad, who didn’t start the game with their normal speed and drive. UNB did get the first goal of the game, shorthanded, when captain Kyle Bailey (Ponoka, AB) jumped on a loose puck and roared down the right side of the ice and beat StFX netminder Bryan Gillis (Lantz, NS) with a quick shot that went off Gillis’ glove and into the net at 4:21. UNB successfully killed off another penalty later in the period and were controlling the territorial play for most of the period until 17:17 when StFX managed to get several bodies to the net and UNB goalie Travis Fullerton (Riverview, NB) had to come out of his net to his right to make the initial save, only to see the puck passed across the ice to Bryce Swan (Alder Point, NS) who had a wide open net to bang the puck into to tie the game.

In the second period, when UNB could thread their way through the StFX neutral zone pressure, they kept shooting on Gillis’s glove side and he kept making the save. UNB was getting few second shots, and the X-Men were continuously collapsing back into the slot to take away passing lanes. Finally at 16:52, UNB won the faceoff in the StFX zone back to Kyle Bailey in the high slot and his snap shot beat the StFX goalie to once again put UNB ahead. Seconds later key UNB defenceman Jonathan Harty (Oromocto, NB) put a heavy open ice hit on an X-Man in the neutral zone and was assessed a two minute minor penalty and ten minute misconduct for contact to the head. UNB killed off the minor penalty, but they wouldn’t get Harty back until midway through the final period.

StFX stuck with their defensive play in the third period and were rewarded at 9:23 when UNB didn’t get a clean line change and Phil Mangan (Gananogue, ON) found himself with only one V-Reds defenceman between him and the UNB net. His shot from the top of the circle beat Travis Fullerton along the ice through his pads and stunned the crowd. Five minutes later Bailey almost put the V-Reds ahead again, but his shot that beat Gillis rang off the post. At 16:52 UNB turned over the puck in the neutral zone and rookie X-Man Brennan Wray (Moose Jaw, SK) came in on the rush and beat Fullerton high and under the crossbar. The rest of the way the X-Men were content to stand up at the blue line and to ice the puck when threatened. UNB was only able to get Fullerton out of the net in the last few seconds of the period, but they weren’t able to generate many scoring chances to tie the game, and StFX held on for the 3-2 win.

Shots favoured UNB 31-25 in the game, and UNB was 0-for-2 on the power play while StFX was 0-for-4 with the man advantage. Game two of the semi-final series goes Friday night at the AUC in Fredericton.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Let's go V-Reds!