Sunday, January 23, 2011

V-Reds find the chink in X-Men armour

FREDERICTON – The No. 9 ranked StFX X-Men have shown in the last year that they can play a solid defensive system and score opportunistic goals against the No. 1 ranked University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds, and for two periods Saturday night they did just that, but the V-Reds found a way to penetrate their armour in the the third period, scoring three goals in seven minutes for the hard fought 4-1 victory. First place UNB, 17-4-0 in AUS play, now run their winning streak to seven games and remain undefeated at home this season.

Photo Courtesy Brian Smith
It was Salute the Military Night at the Aitken University Centre, and the big crowd of 3349 was treated to a pre-game on-ice performance by the Second Battalion the Royal Canadian Regiment Pipes and Drums. Like the hundreds of invited Canadian Forces personnel in attendance at the game, the 2RCR P&D are from nearby CFB Gagetown. When they were introduced for the ceremonial face-off the honoured guests were given a standing ovation by the appreciative fans.

The Varsity Reds carried the attack from the opening faceoff, but they had to fight for every metre of ice through the tight-checking X-Men. Like the night before, UNB's first goal came off the power play, and once again it was defenceman Luke Gallant (Bedford, NS) from the point, as his wrister through a screen beat Joey Perricone (San Juan Capistrano, CA) at 12:37. That was to be the only goal of the period, that saw UNB have 10 shots on goal to StFX's 3.

The second period was more of the tight checking play, although the chippiness level had elevated. UNB's Nick MacNeil (Creignish, NS) had appeared to score early in the period off a scrum in front of the net, but referee Scott Lockhart waved off the goal as he apparently lost sight of the puck before it crossed the goal line. UNB goaltender Travis Fullerton (Riverview, NB) probably made his best save of the game at 13:40, when Jason Bast (Moose Jaw, SK) got in behind the V-Reds defence but couldn't deke out Fullerton. Six seconds after Taylor Procyshen was called for holding, StFX captain Chris Hulit (Sault Ste. Marie, ON) on the power play wired a point shot that beat Fullerton on the blocker side to tie the game at 16:56, and considerably quieten the crowd.

Photo Courtesy Brian Smith
At the end of the period UNB's Jordan Clendenning (Fredericton, NB) was knocked down by Josh Day (St. John's, NL) in the neutral ice zone. When he got back up Clendenning gave a whack with his stick to the closest X-Men skating by, Brennan Wray (Moose Jaw, SK). Neither infraction was whistled, and as StFX coach Brad Peddle was heading across the ice to the dressing room he tried to argue the non-call for the retaliation with the referee and was assessed a bench minor penalty, which would carry over to the next period. Shots in the grinding second period were closer, 12-9 in favour of UNB.

While they didn't score on their power play to open the third period, UNB had a couple of chances and seemed to carry some momentum afterwards. The V-Reds were doing a much better job using their speed to find seams in the X-Men defensive zone coverage, and they were rewarded at 5:33 when Jeff Lee (Calgary, AB) came out of the corner with the puck, got the puck to Lachlan MacIntosh (Perth Andover, NB), who in turn passed across the slot to Daine Todd (Stettler, AB) for the easy tap in goal. It was Todd's first goal of the season, coming in the third game of his comeback from an early season shoulder injury.

With UNB now back in the lead, the goal forced the X-Men to open up their game a little bit which played to the V-Reds skating game. At 11:06 Procyshen raced into the StFX zone and snapped a shot that beat Perricone on the blocker side. Less than two minutes later the UNB energy line added to the tally as Spencer Corcoran (Summerside, PEI) did a great job protecting the puck on the cycle in the X zone before relaying the puck to Dion Campbell (Melville, SK), who from behind the net passed the puck to Ryan Seymour (Fredericton, NB) for the one-timer goal. StFX played the final 3:34 of the period on the power play with Jonathan Harty (Oromocto, NB) off with a double-minor penalty, but the strong UNB penalty kill limited X to one shot on goal.

Photo Courtesy Brian Smith

In the 4-1 victory UNB outshot StFX 34-17. The X-Men's only goal came on one of their four power play opportunities, while the V-Reds cashed in just once on their eight man-advantage situations. While UNB head coach Gardiner MacDougall was not happy with his team's power play as the game progressed, he was pleased how the team leaders responded in the third period. “I thought in the second we weren't as good as we could be. It's a process. You can't skip steps in the process. You've got to give a lot of credit to the leadership between the second and the third. We've got great leaders. They addressed the way we were skipping steps. You have to do things the right way. I thought fundamentally in the third there were a lot of positives.”

StFX's Brad Peddle thought it was a hard fought game that could have gone either way in the third period. “I was pretty proud of our effort. I was proud of how we played the game. This was a good example tonight of two teams laying it all out there and saying let's go at it.” On the UNB-StFX intensity Peddle added, “That's the rivalry. It's great. Our guys love playing these games and I'm sure their guys are saying the same thing on the other side. They made the most of a couple of opportunities in the third.”

Photo Courtesy Brian Smith

Game Notes: UNB's Ryan Seymour went down heavily and awkwardly in the first period, but managed to return later. He was still limping after the game ... UNB has not given up more than two goals in any home game at the AUC this season ... UNB is 13-0 at home, and they will close out the regular season with just one more home game and six on the road ... The V-Reds are down the hill to play St. Thomas on Friday and travel to Charlottetown Saturday to play UPEI ... Several hundred fans at the game had free tickets as a thank-you from the Varsity Reds for braving the snowstorm to attend Friday's game.


Anonymous said...

is lynes hurt?

David Kilfoil said...

No. Now that several of the previously injured V-Reds are back, someone has to sit out, and Lynes is one of them.

Dylan.M said...

i guess that really just show's what a high calliber team the v-reds have, because in my opinion Lynes is a top 6 forward on most CIS teams.

David Kilfoil said...

Personally I'd like UNB to try Lynes on the power play. He's got a good shot, he's a offence-first player, and the UNB power play hasn't been very good for a while yet.

Anonymous said...

Theirs no question Lynes strength is the Power Play.

But after that it ends, he can't skate well, hes not fast at all, he doesn't win battles with the puck on the boards, hes not physical, and he doesn't carry the puck well. This is why he is not playing, hes simply the weakest forward on a deep UNB Team up front.

His shot from the faceoff circles on the PP is definately his Strength. But who would you sit out to get Lynes in the Lineup? Nick Layton will likely be the other guy riding the Pines.

Someone like Fillier while not as skilled, is just too physical and aggresive of a player to take off the 4th line, Lynes isn't a checking role player, and you certainly have too many guys that deserve to be on the top 6 forwards to include Lynes as a realistic person to be one of them.