Sunday, November 7, 2010

UNB Gets Some Redemption in Decisive Victory


FREDERICTON   The most anticipated game of the season was worth waiting for, as the UNB Varsity Reds men's hockey team defeated the StFX X-Men 6-2 in a game that all had the intensity of a playoff match, and perhaps more. Led by a natural hat trick from Chris Culligan, and encouraged on by 2813 fans at the Aitken University Centre, the V-Reds overcame an early deficit to take the first step in redemption for last season's playoff elimination by the X-Men.

StFX of course was the only team to defeat UNB last season, halting the V-Reds winning streak at 26 games. A few weeks later they then went on to upset UNB in the second round of the AUS playoffs, in three straight 3-2 victories. The X-Men started this season with four wins, which only heightened the anticipation for their first visit to Fredericton. That anticipation probably turned to worry soon after the drop of the puck, as the X-Men took it to UNB early on, helped by the fact that Hunter Tremblay (Timmins, ON) was called for elbowing just 23 seconds into the game. The X-Men were first on the scoreboard, at 4:01, when Matthew Bragg (Newmans Cove, NL) scored off a rebound on the rush as he beat Travis Fullerton (Riverview, NB). X was outshooting UNB 7-4 at that time.

The momentum didn't shift the V-Reds' way until they started killing off a slashing penalty to Spencer Corcoran (Summerside, PEI) at 10:37, after Corcorcan responded to being checked into the X-Men bench. Less than a minute later UNB captain Kyle Bailey (Ponoka, AB) and rookie Nick MacNeil (Creignish, NS) roared up ice on a shorthanded two-on-one rush. In the X zone the desperate X-Man defender slid full body across the ice to take Bailey down, but not before he got the puck across to MacNeil who tipped the puck past Joey Perricone (San Juan Capistrano, CA) to tie the game and bring the relieved fans to their feet. UNB still had to kill off the penalty, and almost got another shorthanded goal just before the penalty expired, when Perricone made a right pad save on Tremblay off a breakaway. Seconds later Chris Culligan (Howie Center, NS) and defenceman Bretton Stamler (Edmonton, AB) collaborated on a goal to put UNB in the lead, with the puck apparently going off the goalie's stick or skate just before it got to Stamler at the open side of the net. The physical intensity escalated at the game played on, and at the end of the period there was all sorts of chirping and a bit of a scrum as the teams left their benches, highlighted by X's Bryce Swan (Alder Point, NS) coming back across the ice to "chat" with some of the UNB players heading off. Referee Thayer Doyle then assessed StFX a bench minor for leaving the bench early. Shots in the first period were 14-13 in favour of UNB.

So the second period started with a fresh sheet of ice and UNB on the power play. It only took the V-Reds 34 seconds to take advantage of the opportunity of the man advantage, when defenceman Ben Wright (Foremost, AB) hammered a point shot off the rear boards so that it would rebound into the dog pile in front of the StFX net, and Culligan got a couple of whacks at the puck before getting it past Perricone. For X-Men coach Brad Peddle, this was the turning point in the game, as it put UNB up 3-1 "and we found it tough to respond after that goal. We had to start taking risks, and got burned." It was 13:01 when Culligan completed his natural hat trick, as he tipped in Jonathan Harty (Oromocto, NB)'s point shot. Soon after UNB was on the power play, and Bailey in front of the X-Men net sustained a tremendous battering from behind by defenceman Nick Pageau (Stoney Creek, ON) before Pageau was finally called for roughing. Although the V-Reds didn't score on their 38 second five-on-three advantage, it was Bailey who turned on a loose puck in front of the net for the power play goal at 15:27. Just over a minute later, and after the whistle and blown play dead, UNB's Josh Hepditch (Fredericton, NB) was knocked down at centre ice by Derek Claffey (Red Deer, AB) and that precipitated another scrum. X's Stephen Simms (Reidville, NF) and UNB's Harty got roughing minors, and both Claffey and Harty were given addition 10-minute misconducts. Since it was Harty's second misconduct of the game, he was automatically given a game misconduct. The V-Reds had already lost defenceman Luke Gallant (Bedford, NS) on his first shift of the game when he went down blocking a shot, so UNB would finish the remainder of the game with four d-men. While there were no more penalties called in the period, both teams came close as the tension built. UNB outshot X 15-6 in the middle period.

During the intermission both coaches must have told their respective teams to dial back the animosity, as play that looked to be getting out of hand was certainly calmer in the third period. UNB dominated the start of the period, and StFX never got out of their zone before Luke Lynes (Rochester Hills, MI) on the cycle snapped in a rebound at 2:20 to make it 6-1 for the home team. StFX had two power play opportunities midway through the period, but didn't score again until their man advantage for the final two minutes of the game, when rookie Scott Brannon (Stellarton, NS) scored at 18:49. Despite their power plays, StFX was still outshot by UNB 15-11 in the period, and 44-30 in the game.

For captain Kyle Bailey, "while we didn't get off to out expected start," he thought UNB's work ethic came through, and the turning point was MacNeil's shorthanded goal. Bailey stated that he loves these emotional games against tough opponents, and wished "every weekend could be like this". Well he's going to get his wish, as Friday UNB will be in Antigonish to play StFX again, and then Saturday night they will be in Halifax to renew acquaintances with Saint Mary's.

Game Notes: UNB was 2-for-4 on the power play while StFX was 1-for-7 with the man advantage. The three stars of the game were: 1. Chris Culligan 2. Kyle Bailey 3. Ben Wright. Bailey led all centres going 15-5 on the face-off dot while X's Phil Mangan was next best at 12-6. While UNB defenceman Ben Wright returned to the lineup, fellow d-man Ben Shutron (Orleans, ON) is still out long-term, along with forwards Daine Todd (Stettler, AB) and Taylor Procyshen (Emerald Park, SK). Dion Campbell (Melville, SK), off to a terrific start this season, missed both weekend games with an illness, and will see a doctor Monday. StFX centre Brett Robertson has not played this season, and is not expected back with a long term injury. The Varsity Reds sported a new patch on the right sleeve of their jerseys this weekend - it says simply "Ted" in honour of the late Ted Bedard, a WWII veteran, star player for UNB from 1946-51, and longtime active supporter of the hockey program who recently passed away. Saturday's 6-2 win is UNB's seventh in a row, and keeps them in first place in the standings, four points ahead of UPEI.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

someone explain to me how harty got 34 minutes in penalties in one game? I was just looking at the game sheet and didnt catch the game

UNB Bruins Fan said...

I don't think he was credited but Tremblay should have got an assist on the 2nd goal...he carried it over the blue line before making a mini spin-o-rama and giving it to Culligan, who then scored.

UNB B said...

As for Harty...10 minute misconduct for giving the ref a piece of his mind after his first penalty (12 minutes) in the 1st period...2 minutes for roughing after the whistle in the second period that led to him getting involved into another scrum for which he got another 10 minute misconduct (12 minutes)...and since that was his second misconduct he got a game (the other 10 minutes).

David Kilfoil said...

I think it is safe to say that referee Thayer Doyle is not a fan of Jonathan Harty's enthusiastic style of a play. If you were being cynical, you might suggest that Doyle seems to have it in for Harty.

UNB Bruins Fan said...

Ha I was going to say the same thing...it seems he gives Harty a couple penalties every game. Heck, it seems he gives him a misconduct every game...

Anonymous said...

glad he isnt my teacher - thin-skinned :-)

Anonymous said...

thayer is a brutal ref. He got fired from the Q for his terrible performances