Saturday, February 6, 2010

Varsity Reds get record 25th win in 5-3 victory over X-Men

ANTIGONISH – The University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds men’s hockey team had to come from behind to defeat the StFX X-Men 5-3 and set a CIS record (in the University Cup era) for their 25th straight victory before some 1200 fans at the Keating Millennium Centre in Antigonish.

The first period was very tightly played, and UNB didn’t find a lot of skating room against the X-Men checking. The only goal of the period came at 11:03 when StFX’s leading scorer, Bryce Swan (Alder Point, NS), recovered from a heavy Lachlan MacIntosh (Perth-Andover, NB) hit in time to have the puck come back to him and he beat UNB goaltender Travis Fullerton (Riverivew, NB) with a quick release from the top of the circle. The shots were an uncommonly low 7 to 4 in favour of UNB in the period.

Just over five minutes into the second period UNB was on the power play, yet they gave up an odd man rush to Brett Morrison (Howie Centre, NS) and Ryan Sparling (Sydney, NS) and the Sparling shot rebounded back to Morrison who buried it to put the X-Men up 2-0 at 5:37. It is the first time the Varsity Reds have given up a shorthanded goal this season. UNB was back on the power play a few minutes later when Hunter Tremblay (Timmins, ON) stickhandled across the low slot and passed to Chris Culligan (Howie Centre, NS) who fired a wobbly shot that bounced over Bryan Gillis’s (Lantz, NS) shoulder and in at 8:10. With just 15 seconds to go in the period Tremblay took a nice pass from UNB captain Kyle Bailey (Ponoka, AB) and tied it up. The goal was Tremblay’s 20th of the season and 50th regular season goal in his three seasons so far at UNB. The Varsity Reds had a better skating game in the second period and it showed in the shots,
16-6 over the X-Men.

Momentum was definitely going in UNB’s direction in the third period when Dion Campbell (Melville, SK) split the X defence and fired a shot the Gillis saved with his left pad, only to see Campbell knock in his own rebound at 2:42. Midway through the period UNB was shorthanded when Daine Todd (Stettler, AB) won the battle along the left boards against two StFX defenders and then fired the puck cross ice to a streaking Tremblay who made no mistake in beating Gillis. The X-Men visibly sagged after that goal, yet two minutes later they scored a second shorthanded goal when Brett Robertson and Rob Warner scored on a two-on-one rush. Four minutes later the X-Men almost tied the game when Bryce Swan’s shot on the power play clanged off the crossbar. With 1:44 to go in the period StFX coach Brad Peddle called a timeout, and then pulled Gillis from the X-Men net for the extra skater. However they had difficulty keeping possession of the puck and Kyle Bailey fired a shot over a sliding X-Men defenceman and into the top corner to salt away the win.

The final score was 5-3 for UNB, who outshot the X-Men 37-20. UNB was 1-for-6 on the power play while StFX went 0-for-5. With UNB associate coach Todd Sparks not able to make the trip due to illness, swingman Josh Hepditch (Fredericton, NB) went behind the bench as an assistant coach. Next up for UNB they travel to Halifax Saturday night to play the Dalhousie Tigers.

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