Saturday, January 22, 2011

MacIntosh leads UNB to 4-1 win over Saint Mary's

FREDERICTON – In a marquee AUS battle, the first place and number one ranked University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds men's hockey team jumped out to an early lead, survived a second period push by the second place and fifth ranked Saint Mary's Huskies, and were the better team in the third period for an important 4-1 win.

The last two CIS champions played Friday what perhaps could be a preview of this year's Cavendish University Cup at the Aitken University Centre in Fredericton. Unfortunately a snowstorm descended on the region a few hours after the Huskies left Halifax, and credit should be given to the just over a thousand die-hard UNB fans who braved the weather to get to the AUC for the big game.

Photo Courtesy Brian Smith
The game started with a great pace, and just over two minutes in UNB's Daine Todd (Stettler, AB) was stoned by Neil Conway (Painesville, OH) after a great setup by Lachlan MacIntosh (Perth Andover, NB) as a delayed penalty was being called on the Huskies. It only took 13 seconds for the V-Reds to score on the power play, as Luke Gallant (Bedford, NS) blasted a shot from the left point that caught a piece of the post on the way into the net at 2:37. The UNB energy line was on the ice when less than a minute later Spencer Corcoran (Summerside, PEI) was alone at the side of the net to tip in the puck for a 2-0 lead. UNB almost made it 3-0 at 9:19 when captain Kyle Bailey (Ponoka, AB) tipped a Nick MacNeil (Creignish, NS) pass on a bang-bang play, but he put the puck right into Conway who was cleanly beat on the sequence. At 13:37 UNB did go ahead 3-0, when Chris Culligan (Howie Center, NS) on the forecheck caused Justin Wallingford (Hamilton, ON) to cough up the puck behind the Huskies net. MacIntosh took the puck, danced across the front of the crease until Conway went down, and then put the puck in the top corner. SMU had two power plays after that, and UNB one, but there was no more scoring in the period. The V-Reds outshot the Huskies 10-6.

The second period was very different from the first. There were a lot of penalties called, and the strong play of the SMU special teams appeared to give the Huskies energy. There were also a lot more pushing and shoving incidents after whistles that bogged down the flow of the period, most notably at 7:51 when Corcoran drove the net, Conway made the save, and SMU captain Justin Munden (Halifax, NS) took exception to the UNB player standing in the blue paint. Other players paired off, and Lucas Bloodoff (Castlegar, BC) came off the bench to mix it up with UNB defenceman Bretton Stamler (Edmonton, AB). Those two players were given 10-minute misconducts, with SMU assessed a bench minor for too many men on the ice in a situation that threatened to get out of hand.

Photo Courtesy Brian Smith
Midway through the second period Chris MacKinnon (Richmond Hill, ON) forced Fullerton to make a big save off the rush, and drew a Jonathan Harty (Oromocto, NB) hooking penalty in the process. On the resultant power play the Huskies finally cashed in at 12:11 when defenceman Ryan Rorabeck (Oshawa, ON) took advantage of some tic-tac-toe passing as he cruised in from the point to the open back door. UNB goaltender Travis Fullerton (Riverview, NB) had no chance on the play. There were more power play opportunities for both teams but both goaltenders were strong the rest of the period. The Huskies outshot the V-Reds 15-9 in the middle 20 minutes, with 10 of those shots coming on the power play.

The third period saw UNB take back the momentum when the teams were five-on-five, and they also benefited from a bit of a meltdown by a veteran Huskies defenceman. When David MacDonald (Baddeck, NS) was called for hooking Jeff Lee as he drove the SMU net, Andrew Hotham (Barrie, ON) argued the call and was given a 10-minute misconduct by referee Jeff Hopkins. Then at 8:35 Bailey got tied up in the crease with Conway, well behind the play. The SMU players were up in arms, and for some reason the Huskies were assessed a bench minor. A visibly upset Hotham, still in the penalty box, must have said something to the officials, because he was given a game misconduct and sent to the dressing room, slamming doors as he went. Adding insult to injury, UNB scored on the subsequent power play as once again MacIntosh skated across the front of the net and put the puck up and over a sprawling Conway. The V-Reds were pretty much in control the rest of the way, and outshot the Huskies 14-2 in the period and 33-23 in the game.

Photo Courtesy Brian Smith
For UNB head coach Gardiner MacDougall, the key to the win was the early power play goal, and then the strong play of Fullerton when he was called upon. “We capitalized on our opportunities in the first period and our goaltender was our best player in the second period. We then had a pretty solid third period.” While SMU coach Trevor Steinburg liked his team's play in the second period, he wasn't as enthused about their play in the third. “We didn't lose our desire, but we cracked, and we didn't need to. Guys are so worried about telling the ref that he missed a call, meanwhile there's a game being played out there.”

Game Notes: The three stars were 1. Lachlan MacIntosh 2. Kyle Bailey 3. Cory Tanaka. UNB was 2-for-9 on the power play while SMU was 1-for-8. Before the ceremonial faceoff UNB defenceman Luke Gallant was awarded the Mike Cavanagh Memorial scholarship by J. J. Kennedy. Also, former UNB head coach Don MacAdam was on hand to give out the inaugural Don MacAdam Leadership Award to Bretton Stamler. This new award was initiated by members of the 1983-84 UNB team at their reunion last year in honour of their beloved coach. With their 12th win at home the V-Reds are now 16-4-0 for the season, and they have clinched a playoff berth with eight games remaining in the schedule. UNB hosts third place StFX Saturday night.

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