Thursday, March 17, 2011

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!”


Anonymous said...

I only have 1 real, huge wish for Friday's game and that is for good consistent officiating. (Good luck!)

In the 2 games in Antigonish we saw blatant penalties like hitting from behind into the boards ( 2 mins ), elbows to the head, charging, late hits, holding during cycling 2 of every 3 times, spearing, snowing the goalie, and 2 handers not called while border line calls were made for interference and holding. These calls could have gone against both teams but they weren't on a consistent basis. Out of the blue the refs would decide to make a call. That becomes very frustrating for everyone involved; coaches, fans and especially the players.

If not for the threat of suspensions, Wednesday's game could have broken out and I blame the officials for that situation.

Anonymous said...

even the first 2 games here were not called like they should of been.i dont understand why thses dummies cant call a game right.either let them play or call everything on both sides.biggest mistake is 2 is scared hes not gonna call as much as the other.anyways should be a good one,cant wait.

UNB Bruins Fan said...

The last time (and only other time this season) UNB gave up 6 goals in a game Fullerton came back with a shutout the next game...and they only gave up 3 goals in the next 6 games and 13 in the next 13. I expect a strong bounce back performance tomorrow night.

Anonymous said...

If the hockey coaches ever got together and revealed the actual number of concussions that occur in this league instead of the vague "upper body injuries", maybe then the AUS would realize how detrimental the poor officiating really is at this level. These concussions not only can affect the hockey players but the student athletes as well.

Once recognized as a genuine concern, the AUS could adopt a zero tolerance penalty for head shots (not accidental high sticks) and hits from behind. First time offenders could get 3 games or so which is significant in a shortened schedule and 2nd time offenders could have the suspension doubled and so on. Player suspensions should also carry on from one season to another. I guarantee players and coaches would develop more respect for safety very quickly.

We saw a blatant hit from behind into the boards in the Tuesday game with only a token 2 minute penalty with 2 referees officiating. That doesn't send any kind of a message and should not be acceptable for this University level hockey!

Anonymous said...

To anon@6:29 are you crazy? The refs we have would be blowing that call all the time. Not to mention the dive team at UNB would certainly show up more often.

Anonymous said...

My only response 8:50 is that I would hope that the AUS would weed out some of the officials they have now and that players whose careers are finished because of repeated concussions and players who missed anywhere from 1 month to basically
a full season on each and every AUS team were not divers.