Thursday, March 31, 2011

Hunter Tremblay Signs With Oilers

Congratulations to V-Reds forward Hunter Tremblay who has signed a one-year, two-way deal with the Edmonton Oilers.  Not much needs to be said about #7's stay at UNB, all-time leader in points, two time CIS Champion,  and a treat to watch for the past 4 years.

Oilers Press Release

Update: Bill Hunt has more on Tremblay in Friday's edition of The Daily Gleaner.

V-Reds Attend 'City of Champions' Event

A healthy contingent of hockey fans made their way to Officers Square Wednesday afternoon to pay their respects to all the championship teams in the city.  The V-Reds showed off their new hardware and lined up with the midget AAA Canadiens,  UNB Red Blazers and the Fredericton High School Black Kats for a few photos.

Photo credit T. Davis

With the season now over, fans are starting to turn their focus to which players are moving on.  We'll have plenty of time to discuss this in the off-season, but for now we're just going to enjoy the win.   Championships don't happen every year, and so much has to go right for it to happen again.  So enjoy the off-season folks.  In the meantime, Bruce Hallihan touches on the recruiting subject in today's Daily Gleaner.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Winning Program A Product of Past Efforts

David Ritchie points out how the teams of the past all contributed in their own right to the championship winning program the the V-Reds have become.  We won't even try to rehash the point here, but needless to say it's bang on.  It's resonating with fans too, who can be heard recalling heroic stories of the squads from the 80's, 90's and last decade on any given night at the Aitken Centre.

UNBers of yesteryear share in current success

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

'City of Champions'

Mayor Woodside is calling Fredericton a 'City of Champions'.  To celebrate the V-Reds big win, along with those of the UNB Red Blazers and Fredericton Midget AAA Canadiens, a celebration is planned at 12:15 pm this Wednesday at Officers Square.  Don't miss it!

Daily Gleaner story

Monday, March 28, 2011

2010-2011 season stats

Well, the season has come to a close, and the boys made us all proud. Hunter Tremblay has finished his fourth year with an amazing 201 regular season points and 232 career points (including playoffs and nationals). His full career numbers can be found here.

As for the V-Reds season as a whole, you can download the statistics here. (Excel Spreadsheet, 15.7 MB)

Six more months, and we can start all over again...


Sunday, March 27, 2011

2011 National Champions!

Mission accomplished!!!

The Varsity Reds thrilled the hometown crowd by defeating the McGill Redmen 4-0 to capture their 4th CIS National Championship.  Scoring for UNB were Luke Gallant with the game winner, Daine Todd with a pair, and Matt Fillier.   This team's strength was total commitment to 2-way play.  The V-Reds defenders did an excellent job at keeping a high-skilled, dangerous Redmen offence to firing shots from the perimeter and limited rebound. Travis Fullerton did what he does best and posted another shut-out, his second of the tournament.   Shots on goal were 27-28 in favour of the Redmen.

Tournament MVP went to Luke Gallant, tournament all-stars went to Travis Fullerton, Luke Gallant, Jonathan Harty, Kyle Bailey, and Chris Culligan.  McGill's Maxime Langelier-Parent also received all-star honours.

For V-Reds fans, this was the perfect ending to a terrific year, and erases the memory of last year's painful defeat.  V-Reds fans deserve a pat on the back for making the atmosphere in the Aitken Centre incredible all weekend.

CIS National Finals: V-Reds vs. Redmen

It all comes down to a best of one tonight as the #1 V-Reds host the #2 Redmen at 8pm at the AUC. Both of these teams enter the finals with 2-0 records at the tournament thus far.

The V-Reds, defeated Calgary 2-1 on Thursday, and then shutout Western 4-0 last night. The Redmen won their first game on Thursday, defeating the X-Men 2-1, then defeated Alberta decisively 6-3 to set up this #1 vs. #2 battle.

These two teams have never met before at a CIS Nationals, but have done battle six times since the '83-84 season, the V-Reds having prevailed on all those occasions.

Kyle Bailey, Luke Gallant, and Josh Kidd all come into the final game with 3 pts (1G 2A) for the V-Reds, while Guillaume Doucet and Max Langelier-Parent lead the Redmen with 3 pts each.

The game can be seen on Rogers Sportsnet, viewed as a webcast on the SSN network, and listened to on CHSR Radio.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Keep the E-Mails Coming

The V-Reds want you to send your e-mails to the team to wish them good luck as they play for a national championship Sunday night. If you've already sent one, send another!  There is no such thing as too much fan support!   Every email is read, every good wish delivered.  Keep the river of support flowing by sending an e-mail to
Go Reds Go!!!

Redmen drop Golden Bears, advance to CIS final

Colin McPhail

A pair of goals by Maxime Langelier-Parent helped The McGill Redmen finally earned a shot at a national championship.

The nation’s second seeded squad downed the Alberta Golden Bears 6-3.

“I’ve been working a lot on shooting to score in practice, which I didn’t do earlier in the season. I was always trying to pass in practice, said Langelier-Parent in reference to his uncharacteristic offensive outburst. The big forward only tallied four goals in 24 games this season.

“Working on scoring in practice has helped made it easier for me to do the same in games.”

Special teams were key in McGill’s victory. The Redmen were perfect on four penalty kills and scored on three of their four power play opportunities.

“Our scores get a lot of attention, but look at our penalty kill tonight. It was outstanding,” said head coach Kelly Nobes. “Puck didn’t get to the net.”

Francis Verreault-Paul opened the scoring on the man advantage late in the first and was shortly followed by Langelier-Parent’s first only 62 seconds later to take a 2-0 lead into the first intermission.

Canada West leading scorer Derek Ryan cut the lead in half early in the second. However, the Redmen responded with two goals 42 seconds apart by Ryan McKierman and Evan Vossen.

Chad Klassen scored with 56 seconds left in the middle frame, but the No. 3 Golden Bears struggled to create an offensive attack against a tenacious McGill defence.

Having to win by at least four goals, Alberta head coach Eric Thurston was forced to open the game up to create some opportunities. However, in doing so McGill was able to capitalize on the open ice.

“Obviously it’s not easy to go into a game knowing you have to beat the second best team in the country by four goals,” said Thurston.

“I thought overall we didn’t play bad. But credit to McGill. They’re a very skilled team. They scored six times on 21 shots.”

Langelier-Parent notched his second to dash any hopes of a comeback and Alexandre Picard-Hooper added a sixth for good measure.

Ryan scored another for Alberta, but that would be as close as they would get.

Hubert Morin made 24 saves for the win, while his counterpart, Kurtis Mucha, was lit up for six goals and 21 shots.

The win earned McGill a berth in their first University Cup final.

“We knew the situation that they were in and certainly made the guys aware of it but didn’t change our game our systems,” said Nobes.

“We didn’t change anything and just wanted to play our game, get a good forecheck going and get pucks to the net. I thought we did a good job at doing that.”

The loss was a tough one to swallow for the Golden Bears, especially team captain and graduating player Eric Hunter.

“It’s difficult,” said a disappointed Hunter. “My time here has been amazing and this year was especially good having to a chance to be a leader. Our core group has been together for four years and I’ve developed some special bonds.”

“It’s the most heartbreaking 6-3 loss. It hurts.”

Both Canada West conference representatives were held winless during this year’s event.

McGill will now wait to face the winner of tonight’s Western and UNB matchup.

When asked if he had a preference of opponent, Langerlier-Parent simply said, “No.”

Reds in the finals after 4-0 win vs Western

In an exciting must win game, the Varsity Reds prevailed by a 4-0 margin.  Culligan, Bailey, Gallant, and Tremblay scored for UNB. 

The VReds will play McGill tomorrow evening to determine the CIS championship.

More to follow.

McGill in the final after 6-3 win over Alberta

McGill punched a ticket to the gold medal game with a 6-3 victory over Alberta in game 5 of the University Cup.  More to follow...

CIS Nationals, game #6: V-Reds vs Mustangs

The CIS #1 ranked V-Reds take on the CIS #4 ranked Mustangs at 7:30 pm tonight at the AUC. These two teams met two years ago in the National finals, with UNB skating to a 4-2 victory and their third CIS title. Lachlan MacIntosh scored a hat trick in that game.

This will be a true semi-finals at the V-Reds and Mustangs both won their opening games of the weekend against Calgary. The winner of this game advances to the National finals Sunday night.

Josh Kidd was the hero of game 1 for the V-Reds as they beat Calgary 2-1, and Kevin Baker picked up the first game honors for the Mustangs with 2 pts (1G 1A) in their 3-2 victory over Calgary.

The game can be seen on Rogers Sportsnet, viewed as a webcast on the SSN network, and listened to on CHSR Radio.

CIS Nationals, game #5: McGill vs. Alberta

The #2 ranked McGill Redmen take on the #3 ranked Alberta Golden Bears at 2:30 pm at the AUC. These two teams last met at Nationals on March 21st, 2008. Alberta skated away with that contest, outscoring McGill 7-3.

For McGill, the path to the National finals is a win by any score, for Alberta, it is a little more complicated. Alberta must win by four or more goals to guarantee a trip to the finals. If Alberta wins 3-0, they must then have a shootout with StFX to determine who goes to the finals. If Albera wins by three or less goals, but not by a score of 3-0, then StFX goes to the finals on Sunday.

The game can be seen on Rogers Sportsnet, viewed as a webcast on the SSN network, and listened to on CHSR Radio.

Game 4 UWO vs Calgary

Mustangs eliminate Dinos, prepare for UNB

Christopher Cameron

After the Calgary Dinos final seconds loss against UNB in the first day of the University Cup, they were eliminated on day two by the Western Ontario Mustangs.

In their first game of this year’s tournament, the Mustangs showed they were the real deal as they dropped the Dinos 3-2.

The Mustangs kicked things off early with a goal 1:30 into the game by Kevin Baker.
“We just wanted to get as many pucks to the net as possible and on that one I think maybe he thought I was going to pass, so I kind of pulled him off the post and it just happened to go in,” said Baker about his goal.

After a heartbreaking late goal against them last night, Western coach Clarke Singer said scoring early for his team was huge tonight against Calgary.

“Very important to get a start like that,” he said. “The starts are something we talk about almost every night. It’s been something we’ve done a great job of this year. I think we have a number of first year guys out there and to get an early goal like that out there really helped everybody’s confidence. Great shot by Kevin obviously.”

Calgary head coach Mark Howell spoke to how difficult it is getting down early.

“It’s hard getting down early for sure. Give Western credit. I think they were ready to go right from the drop of the puck,” he said. “We weren’t quite at the same level. We got down 1-0 and I don’t think we responded as well as we needed to.”

Western continued to carry momentum through the first period, even though they found themselves shorthanded. Their penalty kill was great allowing only two shots, one on each of Calgary’s power-plays.

Early in the second period the Mustangs continued to get themselves into penalty trouble as Kyle Lamb was called for checking from behind. Allowing no shots on Calgary’s powerplay, the Mustangs found the net just after the penalty expired as Josh McQuade beat Butler to give his team a 2-0 lead.

Not to be outdone Calgary game right back as Brock Nixon had the puck centred perfectly to him, setting up a top-corner goal past Anthony Grieco to get his team back to within one.

Both teams remained scoreless for the remainder of the second as Calgary’s chances of continuing in the University Cup continued to grow slimmer.

The third period was another defensive showing, although Calgary majorly outplayed Western. Outshooting the Mustangs 11-4 in the third was good for their team, but Julian Cimadamo took off on a breakaway as the puck got away from the Dinos, putting it past Butler’s glove to give Western another two goal lead.

Singer spoke to Cimadamo’s play after coming back from an injury to play in the University Cup.

“He’s been out for a month (lower-body injury) and to come back and go right into the fire so to speak and to be playing a whole bunch and be playing an important role is great,” said Singer. “He started off a little tentative as most people do coming back from an injury like that, but he got better and better as the game went on and obviously to get the game-winner is fabulous.”

Calgary was not done yet as Western had a mass confusion in their crease, with the puck squirting out to Teegan Moore perfectly, who put it over a down and out Grieco.

That was as close as the Dinos would get as Western held on for the victory.

Howell says that considering the progress his club has made in recent years there are some positives to take from this tournament.

“We look at where the program has come in the past two years and I think everyone is proud of that,” he said. “Maybe in a week or two we’ll reflect on that and look at it, but today it’s an awful feeling knowing your season is done. At least if you won today, you know you give yourself a chance tomorrow, and knowing we didn’t provide ourselves that opportunity that leaves an empty feeling.

Western’s next game will start at 7:30 p.m. Saturday night as they take on the hometown UNB Varsity Reds.

Game 3 StFX vs Alberta

X-Men rebound from loss, defeat Golden Bears

Christopher Cameron

After suffering a disappointing loss to the No. 2 McGill Redmen in day one of the University Cup the StFX X-Men found a way to defeat No. 3 Alberta Golden Bears.

Winning 3-1 the X-Men have kept themselves in the tournament. Whether they will make Sunday’s final depends on the result of the final Pool B game tomorrow between McGill and Alberta.

As StFX head coach Brad Peddle said after the game they will be hoping for Alberta.

“That is first and foremost. Alberta has to win; now we’re going to turn into Alberta fans I can tell you that for tomorrow,” he said. “Like I said to our guys last night this has been called the ‘pool of death’ before this started for good reason because there was a good chance that these three teams could go 1-1.”

Keeping their team alive was no easy task, but as Peddle said that it all started with the first shift.

“It (first goal) was huge because we get that first goal and it’s confidence right, for your whole team. It lifts up your bench, but aside from the first goal if you think back it was the first shift,” said Peddle. “We started guys like Rob Warner and Scott Brannon and Brennen Wray. Those guys are big strong guys that are physical on the forecheck and we started those guys to get the energy up.”

Scoring that first goal came late in the first period off the stick of Phil Mangan, in a period dominated by StFX.

The Golden Bears mustered three quality chances towards the end of the period on the power-play, but StFX goaltender Joseph Perricone had a few huge pad saves.

In the second period StFX continued to get into penalty trouble, taking as Spencer McAvoy got called for interference.

Alberta capitalized on the powerplay with Derek Ryan putting the puck past Perricone.

The Golden Bears did not sit back there and midway through the second had a 2-on-0 opportunity, which amounted to nothing as the shot went wide. Perricone discussed his thought process as the Golden Bears came in on him.

“Honestly when they were coming down on me, I said I’m going to make a big save here if I need to and I was fortunate they missed the net,” he said. “I felt pretty good on it. I moved right with them and I don’t know maybe he gripped his stick a little too tight there.”

Just past the midway point of the period StFX found themselves in the penalty box after taking a checking to the head penalty. Although Alberta put two shots on goal, StFX dominated offensively even down a man, putting six shots of their own on net.

The momentum continued to stay in the X-Men’s favour and with 2:05 remaining in the period R D Chisholm slapped it home from the point to give StFX another lead.

Late in the period again the Golden Bears found themselves on the power-play and with 15 seconds left in the second Perricone had to use his glove to rob the Golden Bears of a goal, keeping his team up one.

The third period kicked off with an early goal from StFX from Kevin Undershute, giving his team a 3-1 lead. This was the eventual final score, but did not come without a few scares from Alberta as Perricone continued to stand tall for his team and keep Golden Bear shots from finding the back of the net.

After the game Alberta head coach Eric Thurston discussed what his team has to do tomorrow after today’s loss.

“I think we need to open things up. We’ve got the skill set to be able to do that. We’ve got to be willing to wheel,” he said. “McGill may want to play that way – I’m not sure. We can’t be afraid to get everybody in the cycle and have our D jump in with the second wave and just be a little bit more not worried about losing – play to win.”

He continued, discussing how his team had to ensure they were aggressive to start the game off against McGill.

“I think you’ve got to be aggressive off the hop. You’ve got to be of that mindset going ahead. If you’re looking to stay back and be tentative, you might miss some opportunities. I think we can play that way. I think you’ve got to establish it because I think it’s easier to go back and play defence rather than ask the guys to turn it up the offence.”

StFX will now await the result of tomorrow afternoons game between Alberta and McGill.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Western over Calgary by 3-2 score

Game 4 of the University  Cup saw Western topple Calgary by a 3-2 score.  Western and UNB will play tomorrow night for the right to play in the CIS Final on Sunday.  More to follow...

X-Men Bounce Back With 3-1 Win Over Alberta

With their strong physical play the STFX X-Men were able to defeat the Alberta Golden Bears by a 3-1 score.  More to follow...

Game 2 UNB vs Calgary

Kidd the hero for UNB against Calgary

(Christopher Cameron)

The biggest goal in Josh Kidd’s career thus far came tonight with UNB.

A slap shot from the point found its way to the back of the net pass CIS goaltender of the year, Dustin Butler of the Calgary Dinos with four seconds remaining in the game to give the Varsity Reds a 2-1 victory.

Kidd discussed after the game how the play was something they worked on quite often in practice.

“It’s something we work on in practice and you know its worked before and it’s pretty successful for our group,” he said. “I mean eight seconds left, you’re just trying to go out there and get a shot on net and hopefully it roles in. Luke Gallant set me up nicely and the puck had eyes and it was in the back of the net.”

Kidd continued saying he had not scored as big a goal in his career.

“No, I haven’t been to too many championships, so this is definitely the highlight of my career.”

Kidd’s goal came late to give UNB the win, but for much of the game the club did not have control of the game.

In the first both teams traded off penalties with neither having success in before the intermission as Calgary seemed to have the momentum through the period outshooting UNB 11-7.

After a penalty by the Dinos at the end of the first, UNB had 1:36 remaining in the powerplay going into the second. Four seconds in Luke Egener picked up another penalty for Calgary, a four minute high sticking minor. This set UNB up for a 1:32 5-on-3.

The Dinos killed off the first penalty, but with 55 seconds left in the powerplay UNB’s Jordan Clendenning found the back of the net assisted by Nick MacNeil and Lachlan MacIntosh to put the Varsity Reds up 1-0.

Less than a minute later Marc-Antoine Desnoyers took a holding penalty.

That was exactly what Calgary needed to get back in the game, with Teegan Moore putting the puck past Travis Fullerton 20 seconds into the power-play to even the game at a goal apiece.

After the early excitement of the second, both teams remained scoreless for the remainder of the period going back and forth, but neither were able to take the lead going into the third.

The third period was the most even of the game as both teams were back and forth with chances being equal.

UNB’s best chance came to the right of Butler as Hunter Tremblay fanned on his shot with an empty goal with 3:42 left in the game. Calgary bounced right back and with 2:58 Fullerton came up with another key save to keep his team in the game, with Kidd’s goal eventually coming with four seconds remaining.

UNB captain Kyle Bailey discussed his faceoff win that set up the goal.

“Thankfully that one (faceoff) was a clean one there and not a better guy to have on the backend taking the shot,” said Bailey. “I’ve played with a lot guys on a lot of different teams and I’ve never seen a guy that shoots the puck as hard as him. If you’ve got to have one guy ripping one from the point I’ll take him any day.”

Although it was not the way the Varsity Reds wanted to win, head coach Gardiner MacDougall said after the game that it’s good to have a scare sometimes.

“Sometimes a good scare is the best thing in this tournament,” said MacDougall. “And we certainly got a good scare tonight. We’re at ones until 19:56 in the third and sometimes you work hard enough to get an opportunity. Faceoffs are a key.” We’ve lived by the faceoff and we’ve had a sword go through us in the faceoff as well in the AUS final.”

“A faceoff especially late in the game is an opportunity and was a successful force tonight.”

UNB will play next Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. against Western, while Calgary plays Western Friday night at 7 p.m..

MacDougall says he is happy about the way the tournament schedule worked out for his squad.

“I think winning this game is a really key for our tournament,” he said. “We get a day to kind of recover tomorrow then we’ve got to bring it on Saturday and we look forward to that opportunity.”

Game 1: McGill vs. StFX

Redmen drop X-Men in University Cup opener

(Christopher Cameron)

After a 0-2 finish at last year’s University Cup the No. 2 McGill Redmen’s third period push was enough to give them a 2-1 the victory over the No. 5 StFX X-Men.

With goals from Guillaume Doucet and Marc Andre Daneau, the Redmen struggled to find a way to solve StFX goaltender Joseph Perricone for the majority of the game.

This all began early as a penalty 25 seconds into the game against Kevin Undershute put StFX to the test immediately.

The speedy McGill team mustered two shots and multiple chances, with Perricone shutting the door every time.

McGill found themselves shorthanded as their powerplay came to an end, but it was no issue for them as StFX struggled to get quality chances against the strong penalty kill by the Redmen.

The period continued with McGill showing their speed against a sluggish X-Men team. Multiple chances narrowly missed the back of the StFX net, with Verreault-Paul setting up Andrew Wright from behind the net for their closest chance, flying just above the crossbar.

A late penalty against McGill resulted in no shots for StFX on the powerplay and the period ending in a 0-0 tie.

In the second period StFX came out with new life with multiple chances from coming off the stick of Murdoch MacLellan, with two chances early, but McGill goalie Hubert Morin closed the door on both occasions.

StFX continued to have quality scoring chances as the CIS rookie of the year, Jonathan Bast, stepped up his game for StFX in the second with his shorthanded opportunity on an open cage being tipped just above the net by a sprawling Morin.

Bast would not be held off the score sheet all game as he found a way beat Morin, putting the puck through the McGill defences’ feet, followed by perfectly placed shot over the glove hand of the McGill goaltender.

“It was kind of a broken play at centre ice; it all happened so fast,” said Bast about the goal after the game. “Sometimes when you’re in the moment you don’t really think you just react and that is kind of what happened and before I knew it, it was in.”

McGill mustered a few chances late with Marcotte and Verreault-Paul getting quality chances from the slot, but Perricone stood tall again to keep the score at 1-0 after two periods.

In the third, StFX continued to get themselves into penalty trouble, but stayed on track with their penalty kill, keeping McGill from getting any shots on goal during the powerplay.

Just as the powerplay expired, Marcotte tried to tuck the puck past a sprawled out Perricone, but he found a way to keep the Redmen forward off the score sheet.

Perricone had put his team in a position to win, keeping McGill from finding the back of the net until at 4:24 of the third, Doucet found the back of the net as he broke in over the blue line to Perricone’s right, cutting across the net, out waiting the sprawling X-Men goaltender, and slipping it past him to tie the game at 1-1.

After the game McGill head coach Kelly Nobes discussed how this goal fell perfectly under their game plan.

“Our game plan was to get the puck wide with speed against some of their D and certainly that’s what [Doucet] did on the first goal, which really gave us some life in the third,” said Nobes. “There was a sense of frustration setting in, but we were relentless in the third period and kept coming and that goal gave us a lot of confidence.”

Midway through the third the Redmen took control of the game as Daneau found the back of the net at 9:26 to give McGill the lead 2-1.

The remainder of the game saw some great chances from StFX with Matthew Bragg being robbed point-blank by Morin with a stick save to keep his team in the lead with just under six minutes left in the game.

StFX took another penalty with 5:07 remaining in the game, putting extra strain on their comeback, which fell short as Morin picked up the win with 25 saves to Perricone’s 38 in the loss.

Daneau pointed out how important this win was to the Redmen.

“It’s good for us to start the tournament with a win. It’s good for the confidence and we know here if you get one loss it’s hard to make it to the finals,” said Daneau. “Obviously it’s good for us and obviously the guys are really happy to start with a win.”

The X-Men play Alberta Friday, while McGill gets a day off before meeting the Golden Bears Saturday afternoon.

The tournament is not over for StFX and as head coach Brad Peddle said his X-Men team cannot focus on the loss.

“It’s obviously very disappointing, but we have to regroup quickly and focus on Alberta tomorrow. We’re not out of this thing,” said Peddle. “We had great chances, they had great chances. They just capitalized on one more.”

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Kidd Ends Thrilling Day 1 At University Cup

With 4.1 seconds left on the clock, Josh Kidd blasted a shot past CIS goalie of the year, Dustin Butler to give the V-Reds a 2-1 victory over the Calgary Dinos in game 2 of the University Cup.   Also scoring for UNB was Jordan Clendenning who may have had his best game as a V-Red this evening.  Travis Fullerton  bailed his team out at times, stopping 21 of 22 shots.

The game wasn't a classic by any means.  The V-Reds seemed nervous at times while the Dinos seemed content to sit back and wait for opportunities to counter-attack.  Edge in shots and in play went to the V-Reds, but this could have easily gone in favour of the Dinos with a fortunate bounce the other way.  But good teams find a way to pull out wins and that's exactly what the good guys did this evening.

The V-Reds will now play Western on Saturday.  For UNB, a win will secure a spot in the championship game.

McGill beats Stfx

McGill took the play to Stfx and escaped with a 2-1 victory in the opening game of the University Cup.  More to follow...

E-Mail Your Support To The Team!!!

E-mail your best wishes as the players go into Nationals and show your support to the Varsity Reds.  The V-Reds print these e-mails and place them in their dressing room area for the players to read.  Let's show our support for a great team!

CIS Nationals, game #2: Calgary vs UNB

The second game of the tournament features the hometown and CIS #1 ranked V-Reds taking on the #6 Calgary Dinos at 7pm at the AUC. This will be the third meeting between these two teams as the V-Reds travelled out west in the preseason and beat the Dinos 10-2 and 6-1 in exhibition play.

This is the 11th trip to Nationals for both these teams, the V-Reds are returning after a one year absense, and the Dinos are returning for the first time since the 1999-2000 season.

Calgary's goalie Dustin Butler was named as goalie of the year for the CIS last night, and is a big part of the reason why this team is in the National tournament this year. Forward Reid Jorgensen led the team in scoring with 33 pts (17G 16 A) in 28 regular season games this year.

UNB's Hunter Tremblay leads in both regular season and career points in the history of the V-Reds, so far this year he has amassed 57 pts (44 regular season, 13 playoffs). Goaltender Travis Fullerton had the best GAA in the country at 1.60 and the best save percentange in the AUS at .928.

The game can be viewed as a webcast on the SSN network, listened to on CHSR radio, and followed on UNBHockey on Twitter.

CIS Nationals, game #1: StFX vs McGill

The tournament kicks off with the #2 McGill Redmen taking on the #5 StFX X-Men at 2pm at the AUC. These two teams last met on December 29th in Antigonish in a Christmas exhibition game that saw the X-Men win their 5th Keating Cup with a 6-5 OT victory.

This is the first time these two teams will meet at the Cup tournament. Mcgill has never advanced passed the semi-finals in five trips to Nationals, while the X-Men make their 11th appearance at Nationals, having last won right here in Fredericton in the spring of 2004 when they beat the V-Reds 3-2 in OT in the finals.

The game can be viewed as a webcast on the SSN network and listened to on CHSR radio.

The 49th University Cup starts, TODAY!!!

The CIS national championship tournament kicks off today at 2pm at the AUC. The box office opens at noon, and the gates open at 1pm. This is a general admission game, so it is first come first served for seating and their are certain sections that have been reserved for University students. If you have any questions, contact the AUC box office.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Limited Quantity of Game Day Tickets Available

If you were frozen in carbonite all year and didn't buy a tournament pass, fear not.  We've learned there will be a limited number of game day tickets available at the box office. Any individual game tickets will be available on the day of the game only.  The best way to ensure you get your tickets is to visit the Box Office at the AUC open at noon daily.  Be warned, there are not very many left, so don't delay.   These limited number of tickets will be available on a first-come first-serves basis.

Fun With Math

With March Madness going on down south and NHL playoffs just around the corner, we took it upon ourselves to have a little bit of fun with probabilities and extrapolate things to the CIS University Cup.  Below are the unofficial chances for each team this week.

These aren't meant to be insulting to any team, and every team has a fighting chance which is why the games are played. The numbers are based on a variety of factors, including strong weight on head-to-head match-ups, win/loss records, and University Cup history.  Remember, winning the University Cup usually (but not always) means winning three separate best-of-one games (not best of 5 or best of 7 which tend to favour the better teams).  We didn't exlude the chance of a 2-1 team winning gold, we just feel it very unlikely this year given the pools.

As with the Vegas odds-maker models, there's always an element of subjectivity involved, so your numbers may vary, but we feel these are fairly reasonable guesses and are supported by evidence in recent CIS history.  For example, we gave UNB just under a 60% chance vs STFX if those teams meet in the finals, but we gave Alberta an 80% chance of beating McGill.  Finally, a team's chances at winning gold obviously improve dramatically with each win at the tournament.

Here are the unofficial, for-discussion-purposes-only, no-money-back-guarantee-implied chances for each of the 6 teams:

1.  UNB 31.9%
2.  STFX 23.6%
3. Alberta 22.8%
4. Calgary 11.3%
5. Western 5.62%
6. McGill 4.78%

Western being higher might surprise a few people given how McGill handled them pretty easily in the OUA Final.  This has more to do with the fact McGill is in the pool of death with STFX and Alberta, and if they were to emerge victorious, would have a higher likelihood of facing UNB in the final than Western again.  So the road to gold is a big challenge for McGill.  We actually gave McGill a better chance of winning head-to-head vs Western if those two teams meet in the final.

Also note, there is a 68% chance that a team other than UNB wins Nationals.  This is actually quite appropriate.  According to Steven Knowles (the CIS University Cup history guru), since 1979-80, the #1 seed has won gold only 8 times.  Further, the host team has only won 8 times out of 48 years, with Alberta doing so in both 2005 and 2006.  So history does not favour the V-Reds.

All this means absolutely nothing when the puck drops tomorrow, but might make for some good hockey-talk today, in what's sure to be the longest workday of the year for many of us.

See things a bit differently?  Let us know in the comments.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

University Cup Tournament Seedings and Schedule Released

Over at the CIS Blog, David Kilfoil has the scoop on the seedings and schedule for the University Cup.

The pools are as follows:

Pool A
1. UNB
4. Western
6. Calgary

Pool B
2. McGill
3. Alberta
5. StFX

The schedule for the tournament is posted as (all times AST):

Thursday, March 24
14:00: Pool B #1: StFX vs. McGill (SSN Canada webcast)
19:00: Pool A #1: Calgary vs. UNB (SSN Canada webcast)

Friday, March 25
14:00: Pool B #2: Loser Pool B #1 vs. Alberta (SSN Canada webcast) 
19:00: Pool A #2: Loser Pool A #1 vs. Western (SSN Canada webcast) 

Saturday, March 26
14:30: Pool B #3: Winner Pool B #1 vs. Alberta (Rogers Sportsnet / SSN Canada webcast)
19:30: Pool A #3: Winner Pool A #1 vs. Western (Rogers Sportsnet / SSN Canada webcast)

Sunday, March 27
20:00: University Cup Final (Rogers Sportsnet / SSN Canada webcast)

Note the 8 PM start for the University Cup Final on Sunday. 

Finally, it looks as though CHSR will be broadcasting all the games as well, good news for those of you at work limited to radio.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Varsity Reds win AUS Championship in OT

Photo courtesy Brian Smith

FREDERICTON – It seems somewhat fitting that the AUS men's hockey championship would end in overtime Friday night, just like the first two games of the series played at the Aitken University Centre. This time it was UNB captain Kyle Bailey (Ponoka, AB) scoring the winner at 3:43 of overtime, on the power play, to bring the sold out crowd of 3650 to their feet. The No. 1 ranked Varsity Reds squeak out a 5-4 Game Five victory over the No. 4 ranked StFX X-Men, and capture their first AUS championship since 2008, and their 12th banner all time.

As could be expected in a championship game, there was a bit of edge to the play in the early going. StFX's Rob Warner (Whitehorse, YK) and UNB's Nick MacNeil (Creignish, NS) got tangled up alongside the UNB bench and both were sent off for two minutes for roughing after the whistle at the 34 second mark. The first goal of the game came at 6:14 when Hunter Tremblay (Timmins, ON) took a pass from Chris Culligan (Howie Center, NS) and beat Joey Perricone (San Juan Capistrano, CA) with a quick wrister through the pads. The noise after the goal was deafening, enhanced by the hundreds of UNB students who took advantage of the one-time opportunity to buy tickets for a only a dollar apiece.

A couple of minutes later defenceman Marc-Antoine Desnoyers (Hippolyte, PQ) was unable to clear the puck out of the V-Reds zone, and the puck eventually came to Kevin Undershute (Medicine Hat, AB) who rang a heavy shot off the post. Midway through the period StFX had another glorious scoring opportunity when Brett Morrison (Howie Centre, NS) deked a UNB defenceman on the way to the net, but Travis Fullerton (Riverview, NB) made the save.

Photo courtesy Brian Smith
UNB extended their lead at 16:45 and once it again it was Tremblay with the goal. This time he had a partial break thanks to a pass from Daine Todd (Stettler, AB) who made a good play to steal the puck. Perricone made a pad save off the rush, but the big rebound went right back to Tremblay who hammered the puck past the StFX goalender. A minute later Bailey was tripped up while driving the net by boyhood friend Mark Louis (Ponoka, AB) and the V-Reds went on the powerplay. UNB only generated one shot on goal with the man advantage, and the X-Men escaped to the dressing room down 2-0 while being outshot 13-8.

Ten days ago StFX was down 2-0 after one period in Game 5 against Saint Mary's, and they came back in the second period to tie the game, and eventually win it it double overtime. Well the X-Men had a similarly dominant second period in this game, and they were buzzing the UNB net when power forward Bryce Swan (Alder Point, NS) knocked the rebound past Fullerton at 1:30. Two minutes later StFX co-captain Chris Hulit (Sault Ste. Marie, ON) was called for goaltender interference, but UNB once again wasn't able to score on the power play.

StFX tied the game at 13:16 when Jason Bast (Moose Jaw, SK) was able to get around UNB defender Ben Wright (Foremost, AB) with the puck, and then make a pass through the slot to Undershute who had a wide-open side of the net to score into. At the time of the goal the shots were tied 15-15. That goal took the crowd out of the game for awhile, as they nervously waited for UNB to respond. StFX kept the pressure on and outshot the home side 13-2 in the middle period.

Photo courtesy Brian Smith
UNB's Jonathan Harty (Oromocto, NB) took a slashing penalty right at the end of the second period, so StFX would have a power play to start the third period. UNB successfully killed off the penalty, and 26 seconds after that, they were back in the lead when Bailey fired the puck through a crowd and Perricone never moved until after the red light came on. UNB's penalty woes continued however. Jeff Lee (Calgary, AB) was called for high-sticking at 3:02. UNB killed it off. Defenceman Josh Kidd (Sundridge, ON) was called for elbowing after a heavy collision behind the UNB net. This time the X-Men scored to tie it up at 6:14 when Phil Mangan (Gananogue, QC) saw his puck from the high slot beat Fullerton over the shoulder and land just inside the far post.

At 13:37 Culligan made a great individual effort to score, as he drew an interference penalty call against Nick Pageau (Stoney Creek, ON) as he broke out of the UNB zone and then on his breakaway Culligan was caught just as he drove the net as a StFX defencemen swept his feet out from under him, but by first playing the puck as decided by the referees. The fans wanted a penalty shot, but didn't get it. Highlighting the importance of the power play opportunity, UNB head coach Gardiner MacDougall called a timeout to plot a strategy for his team. Maybe it worked, because Desnoyer ripped a point shot through a screen at 14:17 that caught just under the crossbar. Perricone had no chance on the go ahead goal.

As has been seen all series, the X-Men didn't let the goal deflate them, and at 16:43 Morrison scored in a scrum to tie it up yet again. No more goals came in the final period so the teams headed to overtime after a three minute break.

UNB appeared to have the edge in the extra period, and twice StFX players committed what the vocal crowd thought were infractions against UNB players, but the officials disagreed. The third time it happened the crowd got their way, when Hulit was called for hooking in the V-Reds zone. One minute into the power play Jordan Clendenning (Fredericton, NB) got the puck to Bailey, and he got just enough on his shot to put the puck up and over the outstretched Perricone and into the net at 3:43. Pandemonium then erupted on the ice and in the stands as the V-Reds and their fans celebrated the moment. UNB outshot StFX 4-0 in the overtime and 25-23 in the game.

The players of the game were Hunter Tremblay for UNB and Jason Bast for StFX. Tremblay was proud of his teammates in the hard fought contest. “We had two or three times to close them out. We had the the lead two or three times. Give them credit, they [StFX] came back all throughout the series. It was a big win for our group. Not only for the championship but throughout the series. We got some confidence that we could come back from deficits.”

Photo courtesy Brian Smith

UNB captain Kyle Bailey was understandably pleased after the game. “It's pretty amazing. You spend four years in this league and you really appreciate how hard it is to win the AUS championship. I just couldn't be happier for the guys. I'm really proud of them.”

After the game, StFX head coach Brad Peddle was already looking ahead to next week and the Cavendish University Cup. “We'll take two days off this weekend and Monday we'll be ready to go again.”

Game Notes: Some lucky fan won $4312 in the 50/50 draw, the biggest payout of the season ... Luke Gallant and Taylor Procyshen did not dress for UNB ... Lachlan MacIntosh was back in the V-Reds lineup and Nick Layton was scratched to make room ... The game marked the 12th playoff game for the X-Men and the 9th for the V-Reds ... Three games in this best-of-five series went to overtime ... StFX will still advance to the Cavendish University Cup next week in Fredericton, most likely in a pool with Alberta and McGill while there is a good chance Calgary and Western will be in the other pool with UNB ... The tournament committee will set the pools, with the three conference champs seeded 1,2,3 based on the final Top 10 rankings.

Friday, March 18, 2011

2010-2011 AUS Champions!!!

Captain Kyle Bailey scored the overtime winner to win the AUS Championship in front of a sold-out crowd at the Aitken Centre.  Scoring for UNB were Hunter Tremblay with 2 goals, Marc-Antoine Desnoyers, and Kyle Bailey with 2 goals.  Travis Fullerton was in net for the win.  UNB takes the series 3-2 and are 2010-2011 AUS Champions.

The game was a see-saw battle between two competitive teams.  Hunter Tremblay opened the scoring in the first period around the 10 minute mark and would add his second goal of the game before the period was over.  The StFX X-Men rallied in the second period for 2 goals and outshot the V-Reds heavily by a margin of 12-2.  The third period would see the two teams exchange goals on a couple of occasions, but no winner was determined so this one went into overtime.

With 6:17 left on the clock, Kyle Bailey fired a shot past the X-Men goaltender to end a historic game and secure the AUS Championship on home ice.

AUS championship decided, TONIGHT!

After four games, nothing has been resolved, so tonight The V-Reds and the X-Men play a winner takes all game for the AUS Championship at 7pm at the AUC.

Whatever hype we can throw into this game already exists in the minds of the players on both teams. The regular season... no longer matters. Previous games in the playoffs... no longer matter. Tonight is about the championship; tonight one team can say that they are the very best in the AUS for the 2010-2011 season.

The game can be seen on Rogers TV, as a webcast on the SSN network, listened to on CHSR radio, and followed on UNBHockey on Twitter.

Come out tonight, wear RED, and cheer on the V-Reds.


Thursday, March 17, 2011

Go Red For Game 5

The UNB Varsity Reds are asking you to wear Red to tomorrow night's game in support of the V-Reds as they try to win the AUS Championship in the fifth and final game of the AUS Finals.  Let's turn the Aitken Centre into a furious sea of rabid Reds fans. Bring your red gear and make some noise.  We'll make sure the X-Men know they might be good, but UNB is better!

Go Reds Go!

Stunning 3rd period as StFX comes from behind against UNB

ANTIGONISH – Wednesday night the opportunistic StFX X-Men scored five unanswered goals in the last half of the game to battle back against the No.1 ranked University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds and win 6-3, forcing a fifth game in their best-of-five AUS men's hockey championship Friday night in Fredericton. Special teams were the difference in the game, with the No. 4 ranked X-Men going 3-for-4 on the power play while the V-Reds went 0-for-4 and gave up a costly shorthanded goal.

The first period saw UNB come out with a purpose as they tried to put away StFX and avoid Game 5. The first four minutes flew by without a whistle as the V-Reds kept the puck mostly in the X zone, but were unable to get the puck past Joey Perricone (San Juan Capistrano, CA). At one point in the period UNB was outshooting StFX 7-1 and the shots at the end of the period were 11-4 in favour of the V-Reds who had a clear edge in territorial play, but had to continually battle through the strong defensive play of the X-Men.

The second period saw more of the same close checking play that the fans have seen all series. UNB was first on the score sheet at 6:43. V-Reds captain Kyle Bailey (Ponoka, AB) was thrown out of the faceoff circle to the left of Perricone so rookie Nick MacNeil took the draw. He won the draw, and using his long reach and long stick he stick-handled the puck through traffic and past the StFX goaltender. UNB forward Jeff Lee (Calgary, AB) was called for hooking 10 seconds later, and the X-Men power play went to work. Co-captain Chris Hulit (Sault Ste. Marie, ON) banged in a rebound at 7:26 to tie up the game. UNB responded 10 seconds later on the rush when Jordan Clendenning (Fredericton, NB) came down the left side and leaned into a shot that beat Perricone to the top corner with the StFX defence gone missing.

UNB extended their lead at 8:44 when Daine Todd (Stettler, AB) was in tight to the net and just got the puck up and over Perricone's stick. The next seven minutes or so saw UNB looking to be somewhat comfortable in the lead until 14:57 and a questionable penalty call. Just-named AUS Rookie of the Year Jason Bast (Moose Jaw, SK) lost an edge trying to get around defenceman Marc-Antoine Desnoyers (Hippolyte, PQ) at the right circle and went down and the one of the two referees working the game, and on the wrong side of the fall, tagged Desnoyer with a tripping penalty. On the power play R.D. Chisholm (Antigonish, NS) fired a point shot through a screen past Travis Fullerton (Riverview, NB) at 15:49 and the X-Men and the standing-room only crowd were back in the game. StFX showed a lot more confidence and life in the rest of the period. UNB had a good push right at the end and forced Derek Claffey (Red Deer, AB) to take a holding penalty with one second left on the clock. On the ensuing faceoff in the StFX zone Clendenning won the draw and got a hard snap shot on net that forced Perricone to make a pad save just before the buzzer sounded.

The outlook for the third period looked good for UNB. They had a one goal lead and they would have almost two minutes of power play time on clean ice. Then the nightmare started. Just 11 seconds in Fullerton went out to the side of his net to play the puck, and the disc appeared to stick to the ice just as StFX penalty killer Brennan Wray (Moose Jaw, SK) arrived on the scene. He took the puck away from Fullerton and deposited it in the empty net to tie the game. UNB didn't generate much with the man advantage and just five seconds after the power play ended Fullerton went to rim the puck around the glass and it went up into the netting and the UNB goaltender was called for delay of game. StFX generated all sorts of traffic in front of the net and Spencer McAvoy (St. Albert, AB) scored at 2:38 to put the X-Men in the improbable lead.

The Varsity Reds certainly looked a bit off their game after that goal, and the X-Men with the lead could go back to clogging up the middle and waiting for a UNB turnover as the V-Reds pressed to tie the game. That turnover came at 8:24 and Hulit broke down the left side on a 2-on-1 rush with Kevin Undershute (Medicine Hat, AB). Fullerton played the puck carrier and Hulit slid the puck across to Undershute who one-timed the puck into the gaping net. Just 27 seconds later the X-Men were back in front of the UNB net and their defence running around and big power forward Bryce Swan (Alder Point, NS) knocked a rebound past Fullerton. That was the end of the night for the UNB goaltender, coming off a shutout the night before, as Derek Yeomans (St. Albert, AB)  went into the V-Reds net for the first time in the playoffs. The rest of the final period saw UNB continue to drive the StFX net, some chippy play by both teams and frustration by the V-Reds who finished the game on a 5-on-3 penalty kill.

The final score was 6-3 for StFX, despite being outshot 30-25 in the game. The X-Men successfully stave off elimination and force a winner take all game Friday night,7:00 pm at the Aitken University Centre in Fredericton.

The huge momentum swings in the game were best summarized by UNB head coach Gardiner MacDougall who said with a rueful smile, “That's hockey!”

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

X-Men X-plode In 3rd Period, Force Game 5

The STFX X-Men aren't making it easy on the Varsity Reds after posting a 6-3 win at STFX in Game 4.  Scoring for UNB were Nick MacNeil, Jordan Clendenning, and Daine Todd.  Travis Fullerton took the loss in goal.

The Varsity Reds will get a chance to win the AUS Championship in front of their fans on Friday night when Game 5 is played.  Home ice advantage is what they played the regular season for, so make sure you clear your schedule, get to the Aitken Centre and cheer on the Varsity Reds!

Go Reds Go!

AUS Announces 2010-2011 Awards Winners and All-Stars

The AUS announced the major award winners and all-stars today.  Representing UNB as a First Team All-Star is Hunter Tremblay.  Second Team All-Stars include Bretton Stamler and Chris Culligan.  Nick MacNeil was named to the All-Rookie team.

AUS MVP went to SMU's d-man extraordinaire, Andrew Hotham.  UNB was shut-out of the major awards, but they're probably not too concerned about those.   You can read about the rest of the award winners over at the AUS site.

Game Four of the AUS finals, TONIGHT

Tonight the V-Reds once again go into the KMC Arena to take on the X-Men, this time in hopes of wrapping up the AUS finals and bringing home the banner.

Last night the V-Reds played a great game, at times using X's style of trap to control X's movement in the middle of the ice. Chris Culligan's second period goal in a three way play between himself and Hunter Tremblay and Daine Todd broke the 0-0 game, and Nick MacNeil's goal in the later part of the third period was the icing on the cake.

The X-Men will look to rebound tonight, and will not go down to defeat easily. If you can make the trip down to cheer on the V-Reds that would be great, if not, you can watch the game as a webcast on the SSN network, listen to it on CHSR Radio, or follow it on UNBHockey on Twitter.

V-Reds blank X-Men to take 2-1 series lead

ANTIGONISH – The No. 1 ranked University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds took a 2-1 lead in the AUS men's hockey championship Tuesday night at the standing-room only Keating Millennium Centre with a hard fought 2-0 road win over the No.4 ranked StFX X-Men, and UNB will be looking to end the series Wednesday night in Antigonish.

After a tight scoreless first period UNB took their first lead in the series at 13:24 of the second period when the V-Reds top line of Daine Todd (Stettler, AB), Hunter Tremblay (Timmins, ON) and Chris Culligan (Howie Center, NS) broke into the StFX zone on an odd man rush and Culligan snapped the puck from the slot into the top corner of the net past Joey Perricone (San Juan Capistrano, CA)

UNB played a strong defensive period in the third period, bottling up the X-Men for the most part. After X-Men d-man Derek Claffey (Red Deer, AB) was called for tripping up the pinching Marc-Antoine Desnoyers (Hippolyte, PQ), the V-Reds got an insurance marker at 15:26 when rookie Nick MacNeil (Creignish, NS) beat Perricone with a wrister on a power play for his fourth goal of the playoffs. It was the first goal on the man advantage by either team in the series. MacNeil grew up less than an hour from Antigonish across the causeway in Creignish, Cape Breton. His father Andy was a star player for StFX in the 1970's and both his parents were at the game.

StFX's best chance to tie the game came around eight minutes into the third period when rookie Jason Bast (Moose Jaw, SK) split the UNB defence and passed to a hard charging Chris Hulit (Sault Ste. Marie, ON) who tried to go top corner only to see his shot sail over the net. For X-Men head coach Brad Peddle this may have been the turning point at that point in the game. “You've got to bury those chances in a one goal game.”

Travis Fullerton (Riverview, NB) got the shutout for UNB, his second of the playoffs and seventh of the season. While not tested quite as often as Perricone, Fullerton did make 21 saves for the win and the StFX netminder made 23 saves.

Peddle was not surprised by the tight play in the game. “Did anyone expect anything different? I don't think so ... not at this stage. We're at game three is a series where every game has been a one goal game. This is what we expected. This is what we expect for two teams competing in the AUS final.”

UNB's Culligan wasn't surprised by the style of play either. “I don't want to insult Acadia but I feel that X has been a little more tight checking and kind of sitting back maybe a little more making it tough for us to get in their zone. It's been something that we kind of expected. We had a hunch they were going to play like that ... and they're still doin' it. That kinda makes for a close game I think.”

His head coach, Gardiner MacDougall, was understandably pleased with the V-Reds' overall play. “The execution was what was needed this time of year. I thought we had a good intensity level. Our execution got better as the game went. We put pucks where they needed to go. I thought we had a good grit level. Those are keys this time of year. We needed everybody. We got all four lines in. We got our six D in and Fully made the saves when we needed. It was another classic game between two good opponents.” Notwithstanding the particularly strong game from Tremblay, MacDougall made a point to acknowledge the fine play of the three Nova Scotian forwards in the UNB lineup - Culligan, MacNeil and Matt Fillier (Durham, NS), all who were playing in front of family and friends.

Game Notes: UNB last won the AUS championship in 2008; StFX in 2004 .. The paid attendance was 1987, the biggest crowd of the season at the KMC, and slightly more fans than StFX's two home games against SMU (1952 & 1981) in their previous series ... UNB was missing Lachlan MacIntosh, Luke Gallant and Taylor Procyshen from the lineup due to injuries ... If is a game five is needed in the series it will be played Friday night at 7:00 pm at the Aitken University Centre in Fredericton.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Stifling Defence Secures 2-0 Win At STFX

Lead by a clutch performance from goaltender Travis Fullerton, the Varsity Reds took a 2-1 lead in the AUS Finals by out-battling the X-Men for a hard fought 2-0 win in game 3 at Antigonish.  Scoring for UNB were Chris Culligan and Nick MacNeil, both pretty nice goals.

The story of this game was UNB's willingness to stick to the plan off the opening draw and patiently battle through the X-Men defence.  Once they scored the first goal they were able to smother the X-Men the rest of the way, perhaps giving STFX a taste of their own medicine.

If you're following along, this was Travis Fullerton's 7th shutout this season, and he continues to be in that proverbial "zone" when it matters most.

The V-Reds will have a chance to win the AUS Championship tomorrow night in game 4 of the series back in Antigonish.

CIS Top Ten #18: UNB remains on top

For the 10th week in a row, the V-Reds (23-5-0 regular season / 4-1-1 playoffs) sit on top of the CIS Men's hockey rankings, receiving 17 or 18 first place votes in the latest poll. The McGill Redmen (24-2-2 / 7-1 playoffs) sit in second while the Alberta Golden Bears (19-6-3 / 4-0 playoffs) remain in third.

The StFX X-Men (17-10-1 / 6-3 playoffs) have climbed to 4th in the lastest poll, by defeating the defending champion Saint Mary’s Huskies (18-9-1 / 2-3 playoffs) in the AUS semis.

Here are the complete standings

1. UNB (23-5-0 / 4-2 playoffs) / 179 pts (17) / (1)
2. McGill (24-2-2 / 7-1 playoffs) / 158 (1) / (2)
3. Alberta (19-6-3 / 4-0 playoffs) / 147 / (3)
4. StFX (17-10-1 / 6-3 playoffs) / 123 / (7)
5. Western Ontario (20-3-5 / 6-2 playoffs) / 104 / (5)
6. Calgary (17-8-3 / 2-3 playoffs) / 88 / (6)
7. Saint Mary’s (18-9-1 / 2-3 playoffs) / 77 / (4)
8. UQTR (19-8-1 / 5-4 playoffs) / 45 / (8)
9. Saskatchewan (17-11-0 / 1-2 playoffs) / 39 / (9)
10. Acadia (14-11-3 / 3-3 playoffs) / 23 / (10)

Other teams receiving votes: Manitoba (4), Guelph (3).

The complete article can be found here.

Game 3 of the AUS finals, TONIGHT!

Tonight, the V-Reds travel to Antigonish to take on the X-Men in game three of the AUS final at 7pm. The series, now tied at 1-1, comes down to a best of three now, with two games in the X-Men's arena, on their ice, with their fans. A win tonight will give either team a commanding lead in this series.

The V-Reds and X-Men have put on a great series thus far, going into OT in both previous games and giving fans lots of highlight shots and saves at both ends of the ice.

The game can be seen be seen as a webcast on the SSN network, listened to on CHSR Radio, and followed on UNBHockey on Twitter.

Monday, March 14, 2011

X-Men Stun V-Reds in Double OT

FREDERICTON – Like the night before, the winning goal in the playoff game Saturday between the University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds and the StFX X-Men was scored off a faceoff win in the southeast circle at the Aitken University Centre, in overtime. The difference was that is was the second overtime period and this time it was the X-Men winning the draw, and Phil Mangan scoring for the 2-1 victory, tying the best-of-five series at a game apiece.

The first period saw the Varsity Reds come out with more jump than the night before, and a clear edge in territorial play. The first 20 minutes went by quickly, with few whistles to interrupt play in a tight checking, hard hitting period. UNB outshot StFX 10-4.

Photo courtesy Brian Smith
The second period didn't see too much difference in the tight play, although there were more good scoring chances. Around the four minute mark UNB's Nick MacNeil (Creignish, NS) fired a shot that hit Joey Perricone (San Juan Capistrano, CA) high on the shoulder and then the tumbled onto the crossbar, but didn't drop into the net. At 14:15 the V-Reds had another great scoring chance when Chris Culligan (Howie Center, NS) on the rush let a heavy shot go that beat Perricone high but rang off the crossbar. Late in the period UNB got into penalty trouble when first Ben Shutron (Orleans, ON) retaliated against Matthew Bragg (Newmans Cove, NF) with a crosscheck after getting worked over in the V-Reds crease at 18:08 and then Spencer MacAvoy (St. Albert, AB) lost an edge while trying to skate around the penalty-killing Culligan, yet the UNB forward was called for tripping. The V-Reds did a good job killing off 1:19 of five-on-three play that carried over to the third period.

Soon after killing off the last eight seconds of the five-on-three, UNB found themselves on the power play when Jason Bast (Moose Jaw, SK) was called for hooking while trying to slow up MacNeil. The X-Men killed off the penalty successfully, but UNB was still carrying more of the play in the third period. That is until 6:44 when Bragg was deep in the right corner of the UNB zone with the puck. He curled out of the corner, skating back to but just inside the blue line while avoiding V-Red defenders, across the width of the ice and then he skated down into the left faceoff circle where he finally snapped the puck through a screen that McAvoy redirected past Travis Fullerton (Riverview, NB). Once they had the goal, StFX reverted back to their defensive system, clogging the neutral zone as they tried to shut down the UNB rush.

Around the twelve minute mark of the third period the game opened up, briefly, with chances at both ends of the ice. Bast managed to get in on Fullerton with two quick shots, but the UNB netminder made two great saves. The action went back the other way with Hunter Tremblay (Timmins, ON) on a breakaway, but Perricone stood tall to make the save. The V-Reds finally tied the game at 15:08 when they got the puck deep and icing was waved off. Matt Fillier (Durham, NS) got to the puck first behind the StFX net and passed to UNB captain Kyle Bailey (Ponoka, AB) in front. Perricone made the save on the Bailey shot. MacNeil scooped up the rebound and made a good shot, but another fine Perricone save. Bailey jumped on that rebound and hammered the puck into the open side of the net to bring most of the 2262 fans to their feet. With about three minutes UNB had a chance to take the lead with MacNeil on a partial break, but he couldn't get the puck past Perricone. Shots in the third period were 12-7 in favour of UNB.

After a three minute break the two teams played a ten minute overtime period. Nothing was decided, although UNB had to kill off a hooking penalty to Jeff Lee (Calgary, AB) who was too aggressive on the forecheck in the offensive zone. Unlike the night before when the V-Reds dominated overtime, the play was more even.
Photo courtesy Brian Smith

After an intermission, the teams came back out to clean ice for a 20 minute extra period. UNB had one good scoring chance and then there was a faceoff in the UNB zone at 2:42, to Fullerton's right. StFX centre Phil Mangan (Gananogue, QC) timed the drop of the puck to perfection, shooting instead of trying to win the draw back, and his shot found the gap just inside the post, surprising Fullerton and stunning the partizan crowd. It happened so fast that many couldn't believe what they saw, or didn't see, but the red light was on none the less. Mangan was mobbed by his teammates as the fans left the building in disbelief. Final shots in the game favoured UNB 35-28, who give up their first loss at home this season. It also the first time StFX has managed to beat UNB this year.

Fullerton gave credit to Mangan on the winning goal. “It was a tricky play. He did it a couple of times before. I knew there was a good chance he's gonna push it forward. He just picked it ... perfect. One of those things where it hit the inside post and in and it was over. It happened really quickly. I've never seen someone pick it that clean before off a draw. Lots of guys try it. Kudos to him, he made a good play and it won't happen again. That's for sure.”

Despite the loss, UNB head coach Gardiner MacDougall was happy with the overall play of his team, but he would have liked them to take better advantage of their opportunities. “You get four breakaways, you hope you're going to get one of them”.

Games 3 and 4 will be Tuesday and Wednesday night at 7:00 pm at StFX's Keating Millenium Center in Antigonish.

Game Notes: Mangan also scored the overtime series winner in Game 5 against Saint Mary's ... For the second game in a row neither team scored on the power play ... UNBers Luke Gallant and Taylor Procyshen were out of the lineup for the second consecutive game ... Game 1 overtime hero Ben Wright was not dressed and Josh Hepditch took his spot on the blueline.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

X-Men Take Game 2 In OT

The STFX X-Men scored a quick goal off a face-off deep in V-Reds territory at 2:42 of the 2nd OT period to win game 2 by a 2-1 score.

The game was a much better showing for UNB overall, the carried the edge in shots and territorial play, but they couldn't capitalize on scoring chances to put the X-men away.  STFX scored early in the 3rd period to take a 1-0 lead.  Kyle Bailey answered with a goal for the V-Reds with under 5 minutes remaining to send it to overtime.

The series is now tied at 1-1 and shifts to Antigonish for games 3 and 4.  The V-Reds had good success there this season, winning 6-1 and 2-1.  They'll hope to continue that trend on Tuesday and Wednesday night.

Game 2 of the AUS finals, TONIGHT!!

Tonight, the V-Reds host the X-Men for game two of the AUS finals. Last night, the V-Reds came from behind for a 3-2 OT victory, thanks to a goal by Ben Wright at 4:34 of the extra frame. Take a look at the Gleaner article for the full game summary.

With a 1-0 lead in the best of five, the V-Reds will look to take a choke hold on the series at 7pm at the AUC. Come out and support the V-Reds!!

The game can be viewed as a webcast on the SSN network, listened to on CHSR radio, and followed on UNBHockey on Twitter.

V-Reds rally for comeback win over X-Men

FREDERICTON – Friday night the No. 1 ranked University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds didn't have a great second period, but they rebounded in the third period against the No. 7 ranked StFX X-Men and dominated extra time for the 3-2 comeback overtime win to take the first game of the best-of-five AUS men's hockey championship. Defenceman Ben Wright scored the winner for UNB 4:34 into the sudden victory extra period. Game two goes 7:00 pm Saturday night at the Aitken University Centre.

Photo courtesy Brian Smith
As perhaps could be expected in the opening of a playoff series, the two teams played a close checking game to start in front of the 2623 fans at the AUC on a soggy night. UNB got into penalty trouble early due to some tight calls by the two referees working the game. The V-Reds killed off a brief five-on-three situation, aided by the X-Man being assessed a penalty of their own. The best scoring opportunity of the period was probably at 14:25 when rookie V-Reds defenceman Marc-Antoine Desnoyers (Hippolyte, PQ) stumbled carrying the puck across the blue line; the turnover created a three-on-one for the X-Men. Fortunately for UNB, Bryce Swan's (Alder Point, NS) shot rang off the post. StFX outshot UNB 10-8 in the first period, with six of those shots coming on the two X-Men power plays.

Much like Tuesday night against Saint Mary's, StFX was the better team in the second period. Their solid team systems constantly foiled UNB's breakouts out of their own zone, as they took away the middle and forced the V-Reds to the outside. Jason Bast (Moose Jaw, SK) opened the scoring when he scored his AUS-leading sixth goal of the playoffs at 5:50 off the rush. Bast got past the UNB defence with the puck, and went forehand to backhand with his outstretched stick to put the puck past the unsuccessful poke check attempt by Travis Fullerton (Riverview, NB) and into the net. StFX kept up the pressure and less than four minutes later the X-Men were the recipients of a gift goal when Fullerton made a right pad save off Murdoch MacLellan (Mabou, NS) n tight, but the rebound went of UNB defenceman Ben Shutron`s (Orleans, ON) skate and into the net. One faceoff later UNB head coach Gardiner MacDougall called timeout and he was quite visibly animated on the bench while he addressed his out-of-sync team. It wasn't until the last few minutes of the period that the V-Reds generated any sustained pressure and scoring chances in the X-Men zone. Shots in the tight checking middle period were 7-4 in favour of StFX.

Photo courtesy Brian Smith
UNB was a different team to start the third period, looking more like a desperate team trying to surmount a two goal deficit. The V-Reds adjusted their breakouts and were generating attacks through the neutral zone while StFX looked to be sitting back a bit protecting their lead. At 4:29 Hunter Tremblay (Timmins, ON) woke up the nervous crowd when he tipped a Desnoyer point shot past Joey Perricone (San Juan Capistrano, CA). Tremblay was in the left circle, with his back to the StFX goaltender who had no chance on the puck. Just over two minutes later the V-Reds scored a mirror image goal. This time it was Daine Todd (Stettler, AB) in the right circle, tipping a Shutron shot past Perricone to tie the game. The X-Men came out of their defensive shell after that goal, and the rest of the period was a tight checking affair with a few scoring chances for both teams. Shots in the period were 9-7 for UNB.

After a three minute break, the teams started the ten minute overtime. Well UNB started, because it was all V-Reds in the extra period. The home team put furious pressure on the X-Men, keeping them penned up in their own end for the most part. Worse for StFX, UNB was able to change up their attackers one-by-one while keeping the X-Men bottled up. Finally the beleaguered X-Men were forced to ice the puck to get a line change. However on the resultant faceoff in the StFX zone Chris Culligan (Howie Center, NS) won the draw back to Ben Wright (Foremost, AB) on the left point. Wright fired the puck through a screen in front of the net and beat Perricone on the short side, completing the UNB comeback at 4:34 of overtime. UNB outshot StFX 6-0 in overtime and 27-24 in the game.

“We believed we could come back and win this game, and that's exactly what we did,” said game hero Ben Wright on the UNB comeback. All three V-Reds goals came from point shots. “They were blocking shots really well so as d-men we had to keep our heads up and sift a couple through. The forwards were doing a good job getting in front but it was up to us to get 'em in on net.”

Photo courtesy Brian Smith
“It's not X's and O's this time of year. It is all about winning pucks and playing fundamental hockey. We weren't that close in the first two periods. But part of that you got to contribute to our opponent who played a very good game I thought. That was a good rally. It was a good boost for the group in a lot of ways. Anytime you can come back at home there is a confidence boost in that. I thought our goaltender in the first two periods made key saves even though there wasn't that many shots. I thought he made real key saves for us and gave us a chance,” replied MacDougall when asked about the third period comeback.

StFX head coach Brad Peddle was happy with his team's play in the first two periods, but on the UNB deflection goals he said, “we've got to do a better job getting in front of those shots.” Peddle thought the difference in the outcome was that “we should have capitalized on a couple of chances we had earlier in the game.” “I thought it was a pretty hard fought game by both teams”, said Peddle.

Game Notes: The three game stars were 1. Ben Wright 2. Daine Todd 3. Jonathan Harty ... the Todd-Culligan-Tremblay line was involved in all three UNB goals and they were each +3 ... UNB captain Kyle Bailey was 18-9 on faceoffs to lead all centres in the game ... the four penalties in the game were all in the first period and neither team scored ... All-Canadian defenceman Luke Gallant and sniper Taylor Procyshen did not dress for UNB ... the V-Reds continue to be undefeated at home this season.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Third Period Propels V-Reds To 3-2 OT Win

A strong third period and commitment to battling through adversity carried the Varisty Reds to a thrilling 3-2 ovetime victory in game 1 of the AUS Finals.  

UNB did not have a great start to this game.  Giving up a few early power-play chances including a 5-on-3, they gave the X-Men a chance to build momentum early.  STFX carried that momentum to a 2-0 lead midway through the second period before the V-Reds finally showed up to play.  After 2 periods, the X-Men had outshot the V-Reds 17-12.  If no for Travis Fullerton, this one might have been out of reach.

The third period was all UNB.  Two quick goals in the 3rd period by Hunter Tremblay and Daine Todd a few minutes apart tied the game at 2 goals each.  After 3 periods, UNB lead the shot count by a 24-21 margin.  Early in the overtime period Ben Wright fired home the game winner, capping the comeback and putting an end to any notion of STFX getting inside the heads of UNB players.  

UNB leads the best of five AUS Final 1-0.  Game 2 takes place tomorrow night at 7PM.

Game 1 of AUS Finals Tonight

The first game of the best-of-something happens tonight at 8pm at the Aitken Centre.  The oppponent: the STFX X-Men. The same team who crushed UNB's perfect season attempt last year, and then curb-stomped their playoff run in 3 quick games.

Think this series is just a trivial warm-up for the two teams advancing to Nationals?  Not a chance. Just read what Jordan Clendenning had to say in the story Bill Hunt did for the Daily Gleaner. They both want to win.  This is the AUS, where teams play to win every game and your biggest rival is always the team with the bus parked outside.

The season series went UNB's way.  The V-Reds outscored STFX by a margin of 18-5 and took all 4 meetings.  But that means absolutely nothing now.  So wear Red, head to the AUC and cheer on the V-Reds tonight when they hit the ice in pursuit of an AUS Championship.  Go Reds Go!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Dates of Games 2 to 4 Revealed...We Think...Maybe

If one is to believe the AUS website, the AUS Finals are going to be a best-of-5, with game 2 taking place Saturday night at the Aitken Centre.  Game 1 was already confirmed for this Friday at 8PM.  Games 3 and 4 (if necessary) shift to Antigonish on Tuesday and Wednesday (March 15-16).  The date of game 5 has not been released yet.

So, unless things change between now and when the puck drops tomorrow night, we should expect a pretty good weekend of hockey here in Fredericton.

Latest CIS Top 10

We're late with this, but yet another CIS Poll took place this week, and once again the UNB Varsity Reds (23-5-0 / 3-1 playoffs) lay claim to #1 in the national rankings, receiving 17 of 17 votes this time.  No word on what happened to the 18th voter.

 The McGill Redmen (24-2-2 / 4-0 playoffs) remain in 2nd place, followed by Alberta.  SMU has 4th place this week, so we'll assume the voting took place before the X-Men (currently ranked 7th) bounced them from the playoff scene on Tuesday night.

Here are the rankings.

(regular season record) / votes (first-place votes) / (previous rankings)

1. UNB (23-5-0 / 3-1 playoffs) / 170 pts (17) / (1)
2. McGill (24-2-2 / 6-1 playoffs) / 144 / (2)
3. Alberta (19-6-3 / 2-0 playoffs) / 138 / (3)
4. Saint Mary’s (18-9-1 / 2-2 playoffs) / 109 / (4)
5. Western Ontario (20-3-5 / 6-1 playoffs) / 108 / (5)
6. Calgary (17-8-3 / 2-1 playoffs) / 84 / (7)
7. St. Francis Xavier (17-10-1 / 4-2 playoffs) / 78 / (6)
8. UQTR (19-8-1 / 5-4 playoffs) / 40 / (8)
9. Saskatchewan (17-11-0 / 1-2 playoffs) / 37 / (9)
10. Acadia (14-11-3 / 3-3 playoffs) / 19 / (NR)

Other teams receiving votes: Guelph (5), Manitoba (3).

The complete CIS article can be viewed here.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The X-Men Cometh...

UNB's opponent for the AUS Finals, and the final team at the University Cup, were determined this evening with STFX's 3-2 double OT win vs the SMU Huskies in Halifax.  This marks the second time in two years that the X-Men have bested the defending national champions in a best-of-five series.  Full marks to STFX for erasing a 2 goal deficit to battle back for the overtime win in game 5.  They will present a formidable challenge to UNB.

For the Varsity Reds, it means a chance to avenge the loss from a year ago and carry some momentum into Nationals.  We'll wait for the official word on the schedule for the AUS Finals, hopefully sometime tomorrow.

AUS Finals Schedule Update

We've received word that final details on the format and schedule of the AUS Finals are still being ironed out.  Friday night at 8pm will go ahead for sure, so plan to be there in all your Red glory when the V-Reds hit the ice in pursuit of an AUS Championship.  Final details on the series will be announced likely sometime Wednesday morning. 

Monday, March 7, 2011

First Two Home Game Dates Revealed, CIS Nationals Picture Clearing Up

The Varsity Reds revealed the dates of the first two home games of the AUS Final.  This Friday night at the special time of 8pm, Game 1 will take place at the AUC between UNB and the winner of the SMU-STFX series that concludes Tuesday night.  Game 2 will then follow on Saturday night at the familiar time of 7PM.

The CIS Nationals picture cleared up considerably over the weekend.  No surprise, the University of Alberta Golden Bears and McGill Redman will make the trip from their conferences.  Joining them will be the Calgary Dinos and Western Mustangs.

UNB is pretty familiar with all these teams.  Alberta, Calgary and McGill were exhibition opponents this season, while Western was the opponent during the gold medal game of the 2009 University Cup in Thunder Bay.

With one spot left at this year's University Cup, feel free to let us know who you expect it to be.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

UNB Eliminates Acadia in 4th game

WOLFVILLE – In big games your best players have to be your best players, and that was the case Friday night when the University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds answered an Acadia goal with three of their own and hung on for a 3-2 win. With the victory UNB wins the AUS semi-final series against the Axemen three games to one and wait to play the winner of the StFX-Saint Mary's series for the conference championship.

UNB coach Gardiner MacDougall made a couple of lineup changes for game four, inserting both veteran defenceman Josh Hepditch (Fredericton, NB) and fellow d-man Jonathan Harty (Oromocto, NB) who has missed several games due to illness. Sometimes-defenceman Spencer Corcoran (Summerside, PEI) was moved up to play forward and bang bodies. UNB was a much more physical team in the first period than the the start the night before and early in the period Harty put a big hit on Acadia spark plug Ryan Graham (Mount Pearl, NF), and he saw little ice time after that. Despite good pressure in the period from UNB it was Acadia getting on the scoreboard first at 15:32. Andrew Clark (Brandon, MB) got the puck away from Kyle Bailey (Ponoka, AB) behind the UNB net and he fed the puck to Zach MacMillan (Brandon, MB) all alone in front of the UNB net, and MacMillan's quick release beat Travis Fullerton (Riverview, NB) clean.

UNB answered just over two minutes later when Marc-Antoine Desnoyers (Hippolyte, PQ) hit Hunter Tremblay (Timmins, ON) with a long pass in full stride at the Acadia blue line. In a tremendous individual effort Tremblay fought his way through two Axemen defenceman, and with the referee's arm up for a delayed penalty, snapped the puck past Kristofer Westblom (Meadow Lake, SK) to tie up the game. Moments later Westblom made a big save off Tremblay to keep the score tied 1-1 after 20 minutes. UNB outshot Acadia 11-8 in the first period.

UNB came out flying in the second period and at the 58 second mark Taylor Procyshen (Emerald Park, SK) took the body at the Acadia blueline to make a pass to Nick MacNeil (Creignish, NS) and was hammered to the ice by 6'4” Leo Jenner (Mossley, ON). MacNeil went in on Westblom and beat the Axemen tender with a wrist shot to give UNB the lead, while linemate Procyshen was slow to get to his feet. The next stoppage Prochyshen went to the UNB dressing room and did not return to the game. UNB increased their lead at 13:22 when Tremblay got the puck in the Acadia corner and fed Chris Culligan (Howie Center, NS) in the slot and his rocket shot beat Westblom under the crossbar.

A MacNeil tripping penalty would prove costly as Acadia defenceman Chris Owens (St. John's, NL)  waited for the screen to develop and then fired a point shot along the ice that beat Fullerton just inside the far post at 14:57. The Axemen appeared to take energy from that goal and pressed furiously. Acadia had a golden opportunity to tie the game a few minutes later – Desnoyer had carried the puck deep behind the Axemen net, and when he turned the puck over it created an odd man rush the other way and a hard charging MacMillan ended up missing a near wide open UNB net when Fullerton played the puck carrier Adam McIllwraith (Quispamsis, NB).

The third period saw the Axemen going all out to tie the game as they fought to prolong their playoff lives. Fullerton was forced to make numerous big saves, with probably his biggest a glove save off McIllwraith midway through the period. The Axemen outshot the V-Reds 16-5 in the final period that had the Acadia fans on the edges of their seats.

UNB head coach Gardiner MacDougall was more pleased with his team's play this game. “Last night we didn't play certainly as well ... tonight we had a better response. It started with the Tremblay goal from a great pass from Desnoyer and that got us the confidence to bounce back when you're down one. We had a really solid second period and shut the door in the third. It's all about winning it in the third period.”

Acadia head coach Darren Burns, while disappointed in the outcome, was proud of his players none the less. “As a coach these last few weeks have probably been the most enjoyable for me. I'm almost embarrassed to say that there were guys that did things, that played the way I didn't know they were capable through a lot of adverse situations. There's a lot of guys who should be proud of themselves.”

When asked about the big hit Taylor Prosychen took to make the play for the go ahead goal early in the second period, Hunter Tremblay said, “It automatically lifts you up. You're kinda watching the game waiting for something to spark you. You see that and you get emotional and just get things going again.”

Three game stars: 1. Travis Fullerton 2. Chris Owens 3. Nick MacNeil

Friday, March 4, 2011

Fullerton leads UNB to 3-2 Win

UNB advances to the AUS finals after a hard fought 3-2 win at Acadia.  Scoring for UNB were Hunter Tremblay, Chris Culligan, and Nick MacNeil.  Travis Fullerton was busy this evening and closed the door in the third period with Acadia pressing.  Final shots were 33-28 for Acadia.

The V-Reds will now wait to see who their opponent will be in the finals as STFX and SMU wrap up the other series.

Axemen Stave Off Elimination

WOLFVILLE – Thursday night the Acadia Axemen scored on their first shot on goal, added another goal in the first period, and played a strong defensive game to defeat the University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds 3-1 and avoid elimination in their best-of-five AUS semi-final playoff hockey series.

Ryan Graham (Mount Pearl, NF) missed the first two games of the Acadia-UNB series, but on his first shift he skated across the front of the UNB net and beat Travis Fullerton (Riverview, NB) with a quick backhanded shot just 52 seconds into the game. The Axemen appeared to have a lot more jump than UNB in the first period, perhaps to be expected from a team facing elimination, while the V-Reds didn't look particularly sharp in the early going. At 15:15 the Axemen extended their lead when Andrew Clark (Brandon, MB) sidestepped Hunter Tremblay (Timmins, ON) at the UNB blue line, and then let off a quick shot on the rush from the left circle that beat Fullerton who was deep in his net and didn't have a great angle on the shot. Late in the first period was probably UNB's best scoring chance, when Kyle Bailey (Ponoka, AB) used a skate-to-stick move to keep the puck onside and passed across the slot to Hunter Tremblay who then attempted to deke Kristofer Westblom (Meadow Lake, SK) but he couldn't get the puck past the Axeman goaltender.

The second period saw the Axemen continue their solid defensive play, denying UNB time and space to freewheel, despite playing on Olympic sized ice at the Acadia Arena. At 8:23 of the second period the Axemen took advantage of a partially completed UNB line change to create an odd man rush, and captain Phillipe Bertrand (Cap-Sante, QC) slid the puck across to Scott Tregunna (Mt. Forest, ON) who had a gaping net to put the puck into. In the latter part of the second period UNB had several chances to score, particularly for Taylor Procyshen (Emerald Park, SK), but they kept seeing their pucks stopped by Westblom or sail just over the top of the net.

UNB finally scored at 16:07 of the third period when defenceman Spencer Corcoran (Summerside, PEI) snapped a shot from the blue line that went through a crowd and past Westblom. But that was to be the last goal of the game, as Acadia kept pushing UNB to the sides on rushes, and then whenever the V-Reds did get into the Axemen zone all of the Acadia players collapsed back and took away the shooting and passing lanes in front of Westblom. The final shots were 32-24 in favour of UNB, but the Axemen got the all important 3-1 win to force a Game 4 on Friday night.

UNB head coach Gardiner MacDougall wasn't particularly impressed with the V-Reds start to the game. “Now we've got a series. If we didn't realize we had a series after game two when you go seven periods, now we do. This is a great opportunity for our hockey club to see what we're all about. Obviously our execution has to be better and we have to have a better start.” He added, “We need a better overall team effort. There's a care factor. There's a try factor. But, it's got to be a smart factor. We've got to be a smarter hockey club with a little more hunger tomorrow.”

UNB and Acadia will play game 4 at the Acadia Arena Friday night at 7:00 pm