Sunday, January 16, 2011

UNB Gets Dramatic Win Over UPEI

FREDERICTON -- While they may be in first place in the AUS men's hockey standings, and ranked number one in the CIS, the University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds had their hands full with the third place, and number six ranked, UPEI Panthers Saturday night. It took 55 shots, and 8:11 of overtime, before the V-Reds could win 2-1 before 3232 of their fans at the Aitken University Centre. Taylor Procyshen (Emerald Park, SK), who missed the whole first half, scored his first goal of the season with the game winner on a two-on-one rush. For his part, rookie UPEI goaltender Mark Guggenberger (Richfield, MN) did everything he could do to keep his team in the game, but he couldn't stop Procyshen's laser shot to the blocker side.
Photo Courtesy Brian Smith

Going into the match, one wouldn't think goals would be so hard to find, since UPEI and UNB feature two of the top offences in the conference, and the top three scorers in the AUS were playing in the game. The first period had a shaky start, as veteran Panthers defenceman Tyson Gimblett (Newtonville, ON) was called for interference from the bench at the 29 second mark; the call entails an automatic game misconduct. The UNB power play wasn't very effective, and halfway through they gave up a shorthanded odd-man rush and UPEI rookie Matt Brenton (Stewiacke, NS) put the puck through the five-hole of Derek Yeomans (St. Albert, AB) to stun the large crowd. The Varsity Reds had entered the game with a four-game home shutout streak that was snapped with that goal.

After giving up the goal UNB picked up the pace and had a great opportunity to tie the game four minutes in when both Ryan Seymour (Fredericton, NB) and Josh Hepditch (Fredericton, NB) had chances close in as they battled for the puck. Midway through the period, Matthew Carter (Mississauga, ON), who leads the AUS scoring race, came out of the neutral zone with the puck and a breakaway, but he was chased down by UNB defenceman Bretton Stamler (Edmonton, AB) who even avoided taking a penalty on the play. The V-Reds were soon back on the attack, but couldn't solve Guggenberger in the first period despite forcing him to make 18 saves.

UNB had a power play carry over to the start of the second period, and although they didn't score with the man advantage they still had their primary power play unit on the ice, battling for the puck in the Panthers zone, when Hunter Tremblay (Timmins, ON) got a couple of whacks at the puck before tying the game at the 51 second mark. UNB kept buzzing the Panthers net as the period rolled along, and their play down low drew penalties. The V-Reds had a 5-on-3 power play for 72 seconds at 6:30, but a strong Panthers penalty kill really limited their scoring chances. There wasn't a lot of really good scoring chances for the rest of the period, as UPEI did a good job keeping UNB to the perimeter. Despite this, the V-Reds outshot them 15-7 in the period.

Photo Courtesy Brian Smith
The third period was essentially the story of UNB trying to battle through the UPEI neutral zone trap, with the Panthers patient to wait for turnovers between the blue lines. Late in the period, with UNB shorthanded, defenceman Jonathan Harty (Oromocto, NB) blasted a shot from outside the blue line that beat Guggenberger and brought everyone in the building to their feet, until the goal was waved off because a V-Reds forward was still in the Panthers zone and therefore the play was offside. UNB had a couple more chances, and each team picked up late penalties so they were down to four skaters each at the end of regulation time. The V-Red outshot the Panthers 15-4 in the third period.

Thanks to the penalties that carried over, the ten minute overtime opened with three skaters for each team, and somewhat tentative play. However once both teams were back to four skaters, it was wide open hockey, and the speedy V-Reds took advantage of the extra room. It was all UNB in the extra period. Luke Gallant (Bedford, NS) completed a great pass from Chris Culligan (Howie Center, NS), only to see his shot clang off the crossbar. Soon after Stamler had a great chance in close. Then Marc-Antoine Desnoyer (St-Jerome, QC) rang a shot off the post, followed soon after by Josh Kidd (Sundridge, ON) rifling a shot off the helmet and visor of Panthers d-man Mathew Maione (Unionville, ON). Finally came the game winner at 8:11 as Procyshen used Desnoyer as the decoy on the odd-man rush. When the game's first star was asked about the goal by the on-ice announcer, Procyshen told the crowd he “just closed his eyes and fired it!” Shots were 7-1 for UNB in the overtime period.

Photo Courtesy Brian Smith
After the game, Desnoyer remarked that while he was ready for the pass on the play, he was glad that Procyshen scored, while Procyshen noted that although he knew someone was with him on the rush, “it is never a bad idea to shoot” and he decided at the last second to go low, blocker side. Guggenberger acknowledged that he simply got beat by a good shot on the 2-on-1 play.

Speaking on the emotional game UNB head coach Gardiner MacDougall said, “That's the game you want to win. There was a good opponent out there. We knew we'd have a wounded animal after their loss to STU.” MacDougall wasn't especially happy with UNB's defensive zone coverage Friday night against Moncton and he thought it really improved in this game, limiting the Panthers to 18 shots and few good scoring chances.

While disappointed with the loss, UPEI head coach Forbie MacPherson saw a huge difference in the play of his team. “I'm very happy after they rebounded today. Every point is valuable now.”
Photo Courtesy Brian Smith
With the win, UNB's record improves to 15-4-0 in conference play and they remain in first place. Saint Mary's lost to Acadia 4-2 and are three points back in second place. UPEI and StFX are now tied for third place, each with 23 points.

Game Notes: This was Hunter Tremblay's 100th regular season game for UNB. He is now tied with George Wood for third in all-time career regular season goals with 68. Tremblay is now just 11 points behind Rob Hennigar for the all-time regular season plus playoffs career points lead. This was the second of two School Nights that are scheduled each season, with large groups of students from Fredericton area elementary schools sitting in designated sections. UNB forwards Matt Fillier, Jeff Lee, and Luke Lynes were not dressed for the game.


Anonymous said...

great game but what i would like to know is why the same schools always get to come to the games for free when i have kids that attend schools in lincoln and oromocto and they never get this oppurtunity to do this.seems kinda selfish to me....

David Kilfoil said...

As for the school kids, UNB does two elementary school promotions per season, once per term. UNB partners with elementary schools in the local school district, District 18, and those kids get "Junior Reds" passes for free admission all season. On the two promo nights, parents of the kids get half-price adult tickets ($10 normally). They do two nights now (Northside schools in 1st term and Southside schools 2nd term) so that the regular walk-ups can still buy tickets.

I'm not sure why they don't reach out to the school district that Oromocto is part of. Maybe too far for their student-athletes to visit during the year? Perhaps omeone from the school district should contact the Varsity Reds.