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.

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