Saturday, October 15, 2011

V-Reds Win Home Opener

 FREDERICTON – Friday night at the Aikten University Centre the Atlantic University Sport men's hockey season opened first with a championship banner raising and then a tightly played match between last year's two AUS championship finalists, the University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds and the StFX X-Men, all in front of a large appreciative crowd of 3345. The V-Reds came out on top 3-1, for their 23rd consecutive home opening win.

After the emotional opening ceremonies surrounding the University Cup and UNB's fourth CIS men's hockey banner, the V-Reds came out flying and dominated the early play, outshooting the X-Men 8-1 by the middle of the first period. This was helped by two early power plays. The Varsity Reds nullified their third power play opportunity at 17:06 when Nick MacNeil (Creignish, NS) was too physical on the forecheck and was called for roughing. However the resulting 4-on-4 play worked out nicely for UNB when StFX netminder Joey Perricone (San Juan Capistrano, CA) first made a lunging glove save on a Tyler Carroll (Strathroy, ON) shot but didn't have complete control of the puck when d-man Jonathan Harty (Oromocto, NB) crashed into the scrum in front of the net and Jordan Clendenning (Fredericton, NB) was then able to push the loose puck under Perricone at 17:46. That was pretty much all of the excitement in the close-checking first period that did see the X-Men generate more scoring chances later in the period. Shots were 10-7 for UNB.

In the second period it was the Varsity Reds that generated a parade to the penalty box. StFX took advantage at 8:57, when defenceman Josh Day (St. John's, NL) threaded a pass through the slot to Jason Bast (Regina, SK) at the bottom of the left circle near the goal line and Bast wired a shot over the shoulder of Travis Fullerton (Riverview, NB) and just under the crossbar. A few minutes later rookie Thomas Nesbitt (Ottawa, ON) had a chance to restore UNB's lead on a near breakaway, but instead he was called for goaltender interference when he lost control of the puck and took Perricone's skates out from under him as he slid into the net. A better UNB breakaway scoring opportunity came at 17:00, when penalty killing Dion Campbell (Melville, SK) was all alone from the blue line in, but he couldn't get Perriocone to bite on his deke attempt. UNB edged StFX 9-8 on shots in the middle period.

The first half of the third period was a typical UNB-StFX period with the X-Men allowing the V-Reds to carry the puck into the neutral zone where they would meet them and try to create turnover opportunities. That changed at 11:16. UNB rookie Taylor MacDougall (New Maryland, NB) came down the left wing on a line change and fired a puck from the blue line that was just off the net but bounced off the rear boards back to the crease area. Campbell swooped into the zone through traffic and won the race for the loose puck and then put it past Perricone. StFX responded with a couple of good push-back shifts and forced UNB d-man Ben Wright (Foremost, AB) to take a crosschecking penalty at 13:42. However the X-Men weren't able to generate any real scoring chances with the man advantage, and then for the rest of the period UNB threw up a suffocating wall in the neural zone and took away time and space for a comeback. StFX coach Brad Peddle called a timeout at 19:02 to plot strategy, but the X-Men were burned ten seconds later when Carroll got the puck at the blue line and snapped a shot into the net that Perricone was still skating away from.

UNB outshot StFX 12-7 in the final period and 31-22 in the 3-1 victory. The V-Reds were 0-for-6 on the power play while the X-Men were 1-for-8.

UNB coach Gardiner MacDougall was pleased with the play of player of the game Dion Campell. “He's a guy who defied the odds when he came here. He was one of the only Junior “A” guys on our roster and he found a regular spot. He's been here four years and he got better every year. He's got better every year because he's earned it. He was our fittest guy in camp. He'll play any role. He'll kill penalties, plays on the power play. He'll go on a checking line, he'll go on a top-six line. He's a great kid and it's nice to see him rewarded.”

Game Notes: UNB's Josh Kidd and Chris Culligan did not play in the home opener and are “day-to-day” with undisclosed injuries. Rookie Stefan Salituro was also a scratch. Daine Todd continues his rehab from off-season shoulder surgery and skated in the warm-up, but has yet to play a game this season. Tyler Carroll was playing his first game for the V-Reds since being blindsided by Calgary's Walker Wintoneak on September 23rd. It was returning captain Kyle Bailey's first UNB game of the season, since he missed the entire exhibition preseason preparing for and attending Winnipeg's AHL team camp in St. John's, NL. Bailey graduated from UNB in the spring, but elected to return for his last year of eligibility and enrol for graduate studies after not getting a guaranteed contract offer from the IceCaps.


Anonymous said...

Noticed that Drummond was not announced as on roster. Should we read anything into that?

Macneil went down with injury sometime in 2nd. Any idea what?

David Kilfoil said...

They'll probably put Drummond on the roster when he's ready to play. I wouldn't read too much into that.

Didn't hear anything about MacNeil. I guess we'll find out tonight.