Monday, December 31, 2012

UNB Picks Up 2nd Consecutive Win Over Russia

UPDATE: The UNB Athletics website has posted their game recap.

The University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds picked up their 2nd win against the Russian Red Stars in as many days with a 5-2 victory this afternoon in front of a sold-out crowd at the AUC. With the win the V-Reds retain the Peterbilt Atlantic Kelly Cup.

The V-Reds scored the game's first 5 goals with Matt Fillier, Tyler Carroll, Stefan Salituro, Bryce Swan, and Carroll again all finding the back of the net. Miks Lipsberg and Danil Bogdanov replied with 3rd period markers for the visitors. Shots favoured UNB 33-24

- Dan LaCosta picked up the win in goal.

- The announced attendance was 3450.

- Carroll and Lipsberg were named the players of the game.

- UNB remains the only team to win the Peterbilt Atlantic Kelly Cup Challenge in the 8 years the annual holiday tournament has been held.

- Dion Campbell was named the tournament MVP. Nick MacNeil, Ben Shutron, and Dan LaCosta joined Campbell on the Tournament All-Star Team.

- UNB is back in action this Friday night at the AUC when regular season play resumes with a game against the first place Acadia Axemen. It is the fourth, and final, regular season match-up between the two teams.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

UNB Takes First Game Against Russia

UPDATE: The UNB Athletics website has their game recap up here. Also of note is that today's game, scheduled for 4pm at the AUC, will be web-cast live. The game is sold-out.

The University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds raced out to a 5-1 lead after the first period against the Russian Red Stars and never looked back, skating to a 7-3 victory this afternoon at Harbour Station in Saint John.

UNB received first period goals by Ben Shutron, Adrian Robertson, Taylor MacDougall, Nick MacNeil, and Cam Braes. Artyom Borodkin tied the game at 1 in the early going before the V-Reds scored 4 quick goals to build a lead that proved to be insurmountable. Shots in the period were 12-3 for UNB.

After a scoreless 2nd period in which UNB was outshot 5-4 the Red Stars cut the deficit in half  in the third on goals by Kirill Tambiev and Danil Faizullin. The V-Reds would put the game away with late goals by Dion Campbell, in his first game back in a UNB uniform, and Cameron Critchlow. Shots in the period (16-7) and game (24-23) favoured Team Russia.

- Travis Fullerton picked up the win in goal.

- Nick MacNeil was named the player of the game.

- Announced attendance was 2307.

- Defenceman Tim Priamo, who played two season in the CIS with Guelph and another year in the ECHL before sitting out the first half of this season while recovering from an injury, made his Varsity Red debut this afternoon. He wore Luke Lyne's #15.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Saturday Links

Here are some articles pertaining to two current Varsity Reds as well as former defenceman Luke Gallant as UNB prepares to play Team Russia tomorrow afternoon at Harbour Station in Saint John.

UNB Athletics - "Campbell to rejoin the Varsity Reds for the 2nd half of the season"

Derek Montague for The Aurora - "LaCosta's last hurrah"

John Browne for The Telegram - "Cats find a gem"

Thursday, December 20, 2012

UNB To Wear Team Canada Jerseys, Campbell To Return

UPDATE: According to @VarsityReds on Twitter the UNB/Team Russia game at the AUC on December 31st is now sold out.

The University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds have announced that they will sport commemorative Team Canada jerseys during their two game exhibition series against Team Russia later this month.

In an effort to pay homage to the 1972 Summit Series team the back of each jersey will not only feature the name of the UNB player wearing it, but also the number and name of a member of that 1972 team.

Tickets are still available for both games - December 30th in Saint John and December 31st in Fredreicton - although it has been reported that there are fewer than 70 tickets remaining for the game at the AUC.

Also, in today's Daily Gleaner Bill Hunt has confirmed that forward Dion Campbell will be rejoining the Varsity Reds for the second half of the season. After focusing on academics for the first semester the 5th year veteran from Melville, Saskatchewan is expected to be back in the line-up against Team Russia. Campbell has posted 22 goals and 28 assists in 96 regular season games during his first four years with the V-Reds and will be a welcome addition for the stretch run.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

CIS Men's Hockey Top Ten (#10): UNB Enters Break In 4th

OTTAWA (CIS) – The University of Alberta Golden Bears top the ninth and final CIS men’s hockey rankings of the fall semester. The first portion of the regular schedule came to an end last weekend and conference play will resume on January 3.

The Bears (14-4-0) lead the Top 10 for the fourth straight week after receiving nine of 16 first-place votes and 158 points from the national media panel. In yet another close poll, no less than three other teams also earned first-place nods, including the second-ranked Acadia Axemen (4), No. 3 Saskatchewan Huskies (2) and No. 5 Western Mustangs (1).

Acadia (12-3-1) moves up two spots in the new poll, Saskatchewan (13-3-0) stays put and Western (13-3-0) gains one position. The UNB Varsity Reds (12-4-0) drop a pair and fall to No. 4 this week.
Rounding out the last Top 10 of the fall are the sixth-seeded UQTR Patriotes (12-3-1), down one position; No. 7 Saint Mary’s Huskies (11-4-1), up one; No. 8 Windsor Lancers (12-4-0), down one; No. 9 Manitoba Bisons (9-4-3), up one; and No. 10 Carleton Ravens (10-4-2), down one.

Standings in all three CIS conferences could hardly be closer at the December break.

In Canada West, Alberta holds a slim two-point advantage over Saskatchewan but the Huskies have two games in hand.

In the AUS, after 16 league contests, Acadia has 25 points, UNB 24 and Saint Mary’s 23.

In the OUA West division, Western leads Windsor by two points and unranked Guelph by three.

In the OUA East, division-leading UQTR has a three-point cushion over Carleton.

The top-ranked Golden Bears wrapped up the fall semester last weekend with a two-game split against Manitoba, in Winnipeg. Alberta took the opener 3-2 in a shootout on Friday but dropped Saturday’s rematch by a 4-2 score.

The Axemen closed out the first half with a bang. Following a 3-1 win over UPEI last Friday, they edged UNB 3-2 on home ice the next night to secure first place in the Atlantic conference heading into the break.

Also last weekend, Saskatchewan swept Canada West newcomer Mount Royal 6-2 and 6-3; UNB beat Dalhousie 5-2 before falling to Acadia; Western outscored York 10-5 and Brock 4-1; UQTR edged RMC 4-3 in a shootout and Queen’s 2-1 in overtime; Saint Mary’s downed St. Thomas 3-2 in OT and Moncton 5-2; Windsor lost 3-2 to Guelph on Friday but won the rematch 5-2 on Saturday; Carleton defeated Nipissing 3-2 in OT and lost by the same score against Ryerson, also in extra time.

The next CIS men’s hockey Top 10 will be published on Tuesday, Jan. 8.

CIS MEN’S HOCKEY TOP 10 (#9)

Voting is based on a 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis, with a 1st place vote worth 10 points. The CIS Men’s Ice Hockey Top Ten Committee is made up of media members from across Canada.

(regular season record) / votes (first-place votes) / (previous rankings)
1. Alberta (14-4-0) / 158 points (9) / (1)
2. Acadia (12-3-1) / 147 (4) / (4)
3. Saskatchewan (13-3-0) / 129 (2) / (3)
4. UNB (12-4-0) / 123 / (2)
5. Western (13-3-0) / 102 (1) / (6)
6. UQTR (12-3-1) / 89 / (5)
7. Saint Mary’s (11-4-1) / 69 / (8)
8. Windsor (12-4-0) / 47 / (7)
9. Manitoba (9-4-3) / 40 / (10)
10. Carleton (10-4-2) / 15 / (9)

Other teams receiving votes: St. Francis Xavier (5), McGill (5), Guelph (3), Calgary (1), Moncton (1), Toronto (1).

-CIS-

Saturday, December 1, 2012

V-Reds End First Half With Loss

The University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds seen their 7 game winning streak, as well as their hold on first place, come to an end tonight with a 3-2 loss at the hands of the Acadia Axemen in Wolfville. This marks the first time in 6 seasons that UNB will enter the Christmas break not on top of the AUS standings.

The V-Reds fell behind 1-0 on an Andrew Clark goal after one period of play, but Colby Pridham helped tie the game up in the second period when he made a nice move and pass to Cameron Critchlow, who buried it. The Axemen regained their lead in the final minute of the period shorthanded when UNB turned the puck over at the blue line and Dustin Eckelman beat Travis Fullerton on a clean breakaway. Acadia extended their lead early in the third just after a UNB power play expired with Clark netting his second of the game. The V-Reds made things interesting with a flukey goal by Pridham (Carroll, Desnoyers) with 48 seconds remaining, but a final flurry in front of the Axemen net was denied.

- Ben Wright, Luke Lynes, and Taylor MacDougall were all out of the line-up. Chad Denny was also out serving a suspension for his fight last night against Dalhousie.

- UNB played most of the game with only 4 defencemen after Josh Kidd left the game early in the first period after falling hard to the ice.

- Of course Acadia was missing their top defenceman - and leading scorer - as Christopher Owens sat our after being on the receiving end of a nasty hit the night before against UPEI.

-  Final shots were 45-28 in favour of UNB. Evan Mosher was exceptional filling in for regular starter Peter DiSalvo in net for Acadia. Travis Fullerton made 25 saves in falling to 3-4-0 on the season.

- UNB went 0 for 5 on the power play, failing to score a goal with the man advantage in either contest at Acadia this year. The Axemen were 0 for 2, but that that key shorthanded goal.

- The V-Reds have now lost 3 of their last 4 games in Wolfville. They lost 6-5 in a shootout last November before winning 3-2 in February. 

- In other AUS action tonight St. Thomas picked up their first win at the Grant*Harvey Centre with a 5-4 shootout win over St. FX, Saint Mary's beat Moncton 5-2 on the road, and Dalhousie got a 302 home win over UPEI.

- The standings heading into the Christmas break looks like this: Acadia (25 points), UNB (24), Saint Mary's (23), St. FX (20), Moncton (17), UPEI (13), Dalhousie (12), and St. Thomas (5)

Friday, November 30, 2012

V-Reds Grind Out Road Win

The University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds spotted the Dalhousie Tigers the first goal of the game but came back to pick up a 5-2 victory. With the win - their 7th in a row - the V-Reds not only improve their record to 12-3-0, but also maintain sole possession of first place in the conference heading into tomorrow night's match-up with the second place Acadia Axemen.

Scoring for the Varsity Reds were Tyler Carroll (assisted by Culligan and Swan on the power play), Bryce Swan (assisted by Braes and Culligan on the power play), Stefan Salituro with his first of the year unassisted, Carroll (Swan) with his second of the game, and Nick MacNeil (in an empty net unassisted). The game was tied 1-1 after one period and UNB led 3-1 after two.

- Chad Denny replaced Ben Wright in the line-up. Taylor MacDougall and Luke Lynes remained out.

- Denny and Dalhousie's Shea Kewin both received 5 minute fighting majors and game misconducts in the second period.

- Dan LaCosta made 11 saves in net to improve his record to 9-0 on the season. By contrast UNB fired 40 shots at the Dalhousie goal.

- UNB was 2 for 6 on the power play. Dalhousie was 1 for 4. 

- In other AUS action tonight St. FX gained a road victory over Moncton 4-3 in overtime, Acadia kept pace with UNB as they defeated UPEI 3-1 at home in a game that featured almost 160 minutes in penalties, and Saint Mary's defeated St. Thomas 3-2 in a shootout in Fredericton. 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

V-Reds Conclude First Half This Weekend

The University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds wrap up the first half of their season this weekend when they travel to Nova Scotia for games against the Dalhousie Tigers on Friday night and Acadia Axemen Saturday night. Both games are scheduled for 7PM.

Since the University Cup is scheduled earlier this season the AUS elected to play 16 games before Christmas and 12 after, as opposed to the traditional 14/14 split. As a result this marks the second, and final, regular season visit for UNB this season against each team.

The Varsity Reds (11-3-0 conference record, 15-4-0 overall)  moved into sole position of first place in the AUS after picking up a pair of victories last weekend - 4-3 at home over the UPEI Panthers on Friday night and 6-2 on the road against the Moncton Aigles Bleus on Saturday. UNB will not only be looking to extend their season-high 6 game winning streak, but also enter the Christmas break on top of the AUS standings for the 6th consecutive year. The V-Reds maintained their 2nd place ranking in the latest CIS top-ten released on Tuesday.

UNB has played both Dalhousie and Acadia twice already this season, defeating the Tigers in both meeting and splitting with the Axemen. On October 26th in Wolfville Acadia jumped out to a 3-0 lead after one period of play and never looked back in a 4-2 victory. The next night UNB found themselves trailing late to the Tigers, but 3 straight goals in the final 6 minutes propelled them to a 4-2 win. On November 17th the V-Reds gained some revenge with a 4-2 victory of their own against Acadia at the AUC, while they disposed of Dalhousie with relative ease the next night, winning 6-3.

The Varsity Reds depth has started to show during their recent winning streak as they now have 7 players with at least 10 points. This includes Chris Culligan (t-3rd in the league with 16 points, +10), Colby Pridham ( 6g, 9a, +13), Tyler Carroll (8g, 6a, +7), Cam Braes (7g, 5a, +10), Thomas Nesbitt (6g, 6a, +10), Bryce Swan (6g, 5a, +12), and Nick MacNeil (4g, 6a, +4). Marc-Antoine Desnoyers (9a, league-leading +15) continues to enjoy his best season as a V-Red while Daine Todd (3g, 6a, +7), Ben Shutron (1g, 6a, +8), and Ben Wright (1g, 5a, +9) are all among the top-20 in defensemen scoring. Dan LaCosta picked up both wins last weekend as Travis Fullerton was sick. He now a perfect 8-0 on the season with a 2.00 GAA (2nd best) and 0.916 save percentage (4th best).

The Tigers dropped both of their games last weekend and now find themselves 3 points out of a playoff spot with a 4-8-2 record thus far. Pierre-Alexandre Vandall (8g, 7a) continues to be far and away their most dangerous offensive weapon with Benjamin Breault (3g, 6a), Francois Gauthier (3g, 6a), Patrick Daley (4g, 4a in 7 games), defenceman Jacob Johnston (1g, 7a), and Brett Theberge (1g, 6a) also chipping in. Wendell Vye (3.45 GAA, 0.883 save percentage) has seen the most action between the pipes for the Tigers as projected number one goalie Bobby Nadeau (3.33, 0.900) has battled injuries.

The Axemen picked up 3 out of a possible 4 points last weekend, with a shootout loss to Saint Mary`s being their only blemish. However, that one point is all that separates Acadia from first place UNB as they now sit all alone in 2nd place with a 10-3-1 mark halfway through the schedule. Acadia has a number of highly skilled offensive weapons led by their two award winners from last season. Reigning AUS defenceman of the year Christopher Owens has taken his game to the next level and currently sits 2nd in the league with 19 points (6g, 13a), while Andrew Clark, last season's CIS player of the year, is right behind him tied for 3rd place with 16 points (5g, 11a). They are joined by veteran Dustin Eckelman (6g, 6a) and highly touted rookies Brett Thompson (7g, 5a) and Mike Cazzolla (3g, 9a) in giving the Axemen a dangerous offensive attack. They also feature arguably the best goaltender in the AUS so far this year in Peter DiSalvo, who owns the most victories (9), best GAA (1.86), and second best save percentage (0.921) in the conference.

The Dalhousie game will be web-cast here. The Acadia game will be web-cast here as well as broadcast online courtesy AVR (97.7 FM). You can also follow the game via Livestats. Of course you can always follow UNBHockey on Twitter for updates. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

CIS Men's Hockey Top Ten (#8): V-Reds Gain Ground On Alberta

MEN’S HOCKEY

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

1. Alberta (13-3-0) / 169 points (16) / (1)
2. UNB (11-3-0) / 152 (1) / (2)
3. Saskatchewan (11-3-0) / 124 / (4)
4. Acadia (10-3-1) / 111 / (3)
5. UQTR (10-3-1) / 102 / (5)
6. Western (11-3-0) / 87 / (8)
7. Windsor (11-3-0) / 73 / (6)
8. Saint Mary’s (9-4-1) / 50 / (NR)
9. Carleton (9-4-1) / 20 / (NR)
10. Manitoba (8-4-2) / 19 / (NR)

Other teams receiving votes: Guelph (8), Moncton (7), St. Francis Xavier (7), Lakehead (4), McGill (1), Ottawa (1).

Saturday, November 24, 2012

V-Reds Cruise To 6-2 Win In Moncton

Led by a pair of Daine Todd goals and a solid performance from Dan Lacosta in goal, the Varsity Reds continued their winning ways on the road vs Moncton with a convincing 6-2 performance.  Also scoring for UNB were Ben Shutron, Tyler Carroll, Bryce Swan and Colby Pridham.  Final shots were 38-24 in favour of the V-Reds.

The win ensures that UNB will stay at least tied for 1st place in the AUS.

Friday, November 23, 2012

V-Reds Escape Thanks To Last Minute Goal

Photo courtesy Brian Smith

It wasn't pretty but the University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds skated away with a 4-3 victory over the visiting UPEI Panthers before 2453 in attendance at the AUC this evening. Bryce Swan was the hero, scoring his second goal of the game with only 55 seconds remaining as UNB rebounded from a blowing a two goal lead for the second consecutive game. With the victory the V-Reds improve to 10-3-0 and remain tied atop the AUS standings with Acadia. 

The Varsity Reds scored the only goal of the opening frame - on the power play - when Swan, standing at the Panthers blue line, took a stretch pass from Ben Shutron and skated in on a breakaway, snapping a shot past Mavric Parks. Shots on the period were 10-7 for UNB.

The V-Reds doubled their lead only 2:14 into the second period as Thomas Nesbitt circled behind the Panthers net with the puck before finding Colby Pridham in tight who fired it top shelf for his 5th goal of the season. However, the lead would quickly disappear as UNB's discipline and penalty killing issues would rear their ugly head again. Ben Wright and Chris Culligan were both sent off less than a minute apart and the Panthers wasted no time tying the game, getting on the board 19 seconds into the 5-on-3 and then beating Dan LaCosta again only 23 seconds later. Both teams had 8 shots in the frame as the game went to the final period tied at two.

In the third period the V-Reds regained their lead just over two minutes in when Pridham picked off a break-out pass at the Panthers blue line and passed the puck over to Nesbitt, where his shot was cleaned up in from by Cameron Critchlow. Once again, though, UPEI responded. Mason Wilgosh tied the game for the second time 110 seconds later after some scrambling around by UNB in their own zone. The game would remain tied until the last minute when Tyler Carroll worked hard to gain control of the puck, skated behind the Panthers net, and fired a cross-ice pass against the grain back to Swan, who was camped out near the bottom of the opposite face-off circle. Swan wasted no time firing it into the net before Parks could get in position to give the V-Reds their third lead of the night. This time it would stand as the Panthers had a couple of chances late with the extra attacker, but LaCosta held firm to secure the two points. The Varsity Reds held a 12-11 shot advantage in the period and 30-26 in the game.

- Chad Denny, Taylor MacDougall, and Luke Lynes were once again scratched.

- UNB was 1 for 6 on the power play. UPEI was 2 for 6.

- Swan, Pridham, and Nesbitt were the game's three stars.

- Travis Fullerton was out sick so Charles Lavigne was dressed as the back-up. Doing so means Lavigne loses one of his remaining two years of eligibility.

- In other AUS action tonight Acadia defeated Dalhousie 4-1 in Wolfville, STU picked up their first win of the year with a 4-1 road decision over Moncton, and Saint Mary's beat St. FX 5-2 on home ice.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

V-Reds Look To Continue Winning Ways

The University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds are back on the ice this weekend for a pair of games as they try to extend their four game winning streak. On Friday night they host the UPEI Panthers for their final home game of the first half before traveling down the highway for a date with the Universite de Moncton Aigles Bleus on Saturday evening. Both games are scheduled for a 7PM puck drop.

The V-Reds (9-3-0 conference record, 13-4-0 overall record) gained a share of first place in the AUS after recording home victories over the Dalhousie Tigers and Acadia Axemen last weekend. They also moved up two positions to 2nd place in the CIS men's hockey rankings that were released on Tuesday.  

This will be the 2nd regular season meeting of the season between UNB and both UPEI and UdeM. On November 10th the V-Reds skated to a 3-2 victory over the Panthers in Charlottetown while they dropped a 5-2 decision to Moncton on October 13th. The Aigles Bleus also defeated UNB 6-2 in each team's first exhibition game of the season back in September.

The Varsity Reds go into the weekend sporting a 4-2 record at home and 5-1 on the road. As the season has progressed they have slowly climbed up the rankings in a number of statistical categories. They now lead the conference in goals per game (4.00), power play percentage (23.0%), shots allowed per game (20.8) and goal differential (+18), and sit second in goal allowed per game (2.50) and 3rd in shots per game (31.7). Meanwhile, they continue to struggle with penalties (worst with 287), penalty killing percentage (6th at 81.0%), and save percentage (last at 88.0%). They also continue to perform much better on the road, despite their success at the AUC last weekend, as they have a much better power play (31.2% on the road vs. 13.8% at home), goals against average (3.17 at home, 1.83 on the road), and save percentage (85.6% at home, 90.7% on the road) away from Fredericton.

The V-Reds continue to be led by captain Chris Culligan, the reigning AUS Athlete of the Week, who is tied for second in the conference in scoring with 4 goals and 11 assists, despite missing two games earlier in the season. They have also received big contributions from Colby Pridham (4g, 8a), Cam Braes (6g, 5a), Tyler Carroll (3rd in the AUS with 7g, conference best 4 power play goals), Thomas Nesbitt (6g, 4a), Nick MacNeil (4g, 5a in 11 games), and Bryce Swan (3g, 4a in 10 games). Daine Todd (1g, 6a), Marc-Antoine Desnoyers (5a, league-leading +13), Ben Wright (1g, 4a in 10 games), and Chad Denny (2g, 3a in 9 games) have all shown they can chip in offensively if needed. Dan LaCosta continued his strong season last weekend as he picked up the victory over Acadia and now has a 6-0 record to go along with a sparkling 1.83 GAA and 0.920 save percentage on the year.

The Panthers, who won both of the regular season match-ups at the AUC last season, are on a three game losing streak but are still holding on to the 6th, and final, playoff spot with a 5-6-1 record, only a single point ahead of Dalhousie. With the off-season departure of top scorers Matthew Carter and Jared Gomes it shouldn't be surprising to see UPEI ranked 7th in the league in scoring (2.67), 5th in shots per game (28.2), and 6th in power play percentage (17.7). They have particularly struggled on the road, averaging only 2.40 goals per game and a paltry 4.2% success rate with the man advantage (1 for 24). However, a strong penalty kill (3rd at 82.1%) and one of the best goaltending tandems in the league (3rd with a 0.906 save percentage) has kept the Panthers in most games.

Despite their offensive struggles thus far UPEI features a fairly balanced attack, with 11 players recording at least 5 points so far. This includes veterans Jordan Knox (3g, 7a) and Mike MacIsaac (5g, 4a), along with rookies Mason Wilgosh (4g, 5a) and Tyler Brown (4g, 5a). Chris DeSeousa (4g, 4a in 9 games) has returned from an AHL try-out and has picked up right where he left off after an impressive rookie campaign. The Panthers also have two of the most dangerous defencemen in the conference in Reggie Traccitto (4g, 4a in 11 games) and Matthew Maione (2g, 5a). Wayne Savage and Mavric Parks have split duties in net thus far, although Savage, who has returned to the team after two years away, has been much better so far with a 4-2 record, 2.45 GAA, and a league-leading 0.928 save percentage.

The Aigle Bleus enter the weekend with a 7-3-2 record, good enough for sole position of third place. They sit two points behind the first place Varsity Reds and Acadia Axemen, but only one point up on both Saint Mary's and St. FX. They have stumbled a bit of late though, with only two wins in their last five games.   

Moncton, ranked 7th in the country, are 3rd in the conference in goals per game (3.58), 4th in power play percentage (20.7%), 3rd in goals against average (2.83), and 1st in save percentage (0.915). They are particularly dangerous when they are down a man as they not only rank 1st in penalty killing (86.8%), but also 1st in shorthanded goals for (4). They are also much more dangerous offensively at home as they have averaged 4.40 goals per game and operate at 30.4% on the power play at home compared to 3.00 and 14.3%, respectively, on the road.

The Aigles are also capable of getting offensive contributions from a number of players, as evidenced by the 9 players who have already registered 7 points. Eric Faille (6g, 8a) remains one of the most dangerous players in the AUS and is joined by Guillaume Parenteau (5g, 7a), Francis Rochon (5g, 5a), rookie Alex Emond (6g, 1a), and Christian Gaudet (2g, 5a). Moncton is also one of the top teams in terms of getting production from their back-end, with Remi Blanchard (2g, 5a), Mathieu Bolduc (2g, 5a), Samuel Groulx (1g, 6a), and Simon Lacroix (7a) all among the top scoring d-man in the conference. It appears that rookie goaltender Andre Lemay has secured the number one starter role for the time being as he has outplayed veteran Andre-Michel Guay in every aspect, posting a better record (5-2-2 vs. 2-1-0), goals against average (2.51 vs. 3.98), and save percentage (0.927 vs. 0.867). He was also in net for Moncton's victory over UNB on opening weekend, making 24 saves on 26 shots.

If you can't make it to either game this weekend they will be web-cast here (vs. Panthers) and here (vs. Moncton). You can also follow UNBHockey on Twitter for updates
 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Culligan Named AUS Male Athlete Of The Week

University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds forward, and team captain, Chris Culligan has been named the Subway AUS Male Athlete of the Week, the league announced yesterday.

The 4th year veteran had a big weekend as the V-Reds won both of their games to move into a first place tie with Acadia. On Friday night Culligan notched 3 assists and was named the player of the game in UNB's 6-3 victory over Dalhousie. The following evening, in a game against the first place Axemen, he scored a shorthanded goal late in the first period to give UNB a 1-0 lead and then assisted on Tyler Carroll's game winning goal in the third period.  The Varsity Reds would go on to a 4-2 win.

After his big weekend the Howie Center, Nova Scotia native now sits in a tie for second in the conference in scoring with 4 goals and 11 assists in only 10 games.

You can read the AUS press release here. 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

CIS Men's Hockey Top Ten (#7): UNB Back to 2nd

MEN’S HOCKEY

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

1. Alberta (11-3-0) / 166 points (15) / (1)
2. UNB (9-3-0) / 144 (1) / (4)

3. Acadia (9-3-0) / 129 / (2)
4. Saskatchewan (9-3-0) / 115 / (3)
5. UQTR (8-3-1) / 101 (1) / (5)
6. Windsor (10-2-0) / 81 / (7)
7. Moncton (7-3-2) / 57 / (6)
8. Western (9-3-0) / 49 / (9)
9. UBC (8-3-1) / 28 / (NR)
10. Toronto (7-3-2) / 14 / (NR) - X

X - Toronto (over Lakehead) was awarded the higher ranking based on number of higher placed votes.

Other teams receiving votes: Lakehead (14), Saint Mary’s (13), Guelph (10), St. Francis Xavier (6), Carleton (4), Calgary (3), Regina (1).

-CIS-

Saturday, November 17, 2012

V-Reds Chop Down Axemen

The University of New Brunswick gained a measure of revenge tonight when they defeated the Acadia Axemen 4-2 in a battle of the top two teams in the AUS. The win not only avenges an earlier defeat at the hands of the Axemen by an identical score, it also moves UNB into a first place tie with Acadia. Both teams sport 9-3-0 records heading into the final two weeks of the first half.

The V-Reds got on the board first with a shorthanded goal with only 36 seconds remaining in the first period. Chris Culligan split two defenders to win a race for a loose puck and broke in all alone on a breakaway, beating Axemen goalie Peter DiSalvo with a wrist shot. Nick MacNeil picked up the lone assist on the team's first shorthanded goal of the season. UNB headed to the dressing room up 1-0, out-shooting Acadia 13-7 in the process.

UNB extended their lead on the power play 8:01 into the second period when Cam Braes streaked towards the net and converted a pass from Colby Pridham. Marc-Antoine Desnoyers also picked up a helper on the play. However, the Axemen struck back only 1:22 later when a Christopher Owens slap shot from the top of the face-off circle got past a screened Dan LaCosta to cut the deficit back to one. Shots in the period favoured UNB 10-7.

The Axemen battled all the way back to tie the game 5:28 into the final frame with another shot from the blue line that LaCosta may not have seen until it was past him. The V-Reds restored their lead at 11:07 when Tyler Carroll (Shutron) converted on a breakaway by deking DiSalvo and sliding the puck past him. Carroll would strike again, on the power play, just over three minutes later when he was camped out near the face-off circle to DiSalvo's left and one-timed a cross-ice pass from Culligan. Acadia pulled their goalie with over a minute left but a penalty with 52 seconds remaining ended any hopes of a comeback. Each team had 9 shots in the period, with UNB holding a 32-23 in the game.

- UNB used the same line-up as last night. Chad Denny, Taylor MacDougall, and Luke Lynes were all scratched.

- Attendance was 2441.

- Special teams were big for UNB. They went 2 for 7 on the power play and killed off all five of Acadia's opportunities.

- Carroll, Culligan, and Desnoyers were named the game's three stars.

- Dan LaCosta improved his record to 6-0 on the season.

- Carroll had a game-high 6 shots on goal. Culligan was the only V-Red with a +2 rating.

- The V-Reds had to play over 5 minutes of the game with only 4 defencemen as Ben Wright and Daine Todd were both assessed 10 minute misconducts within a span of 4:32 late in the second period.

- UNB has now won 18 consecutive games over the Axemen at the AUC. Their last loss was on March 7th, 2006 in the 3rd game of the AUS Finals, as Acadia completed the sweep.

- In other AUS tonight it was St. FX defeating Moncton 4-3 in overtime at home, Dalhousie beating UPEI 4-1 on the road, and Saint Mary's blanking St. Thomas 4-0 in Halifax.

- With every team having played 12 games thus far the AUS standings look like this: UNB (18 points), Acadia (18), Moncton (16), Saint Mary's (15), St. FX (15), UPEI (11), Dalhousie (10), and St. Thomas (0).

- UNB is back at the AUC next Friday night when they host the UPEI Panthers. On Saturday night they travel down the highway to visit the Moncton Aigles Bleus.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Balanced Attack Lead V-Reds Over Tigers

The University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds received goals from six different players on their way to a 6-3 victory over the Dalhousie Tigers tonight. There were over 3300 in attendance for the annual North Side Elementary School Night

The game began very auspiciously for UNB as they took the first two penalties, with the Tigers converting on their second opportunity. However, the V-Reds responded with goals by Bryce Swan (Culligan, Todd), Geordie Wudrick (MacNeil), and Daine Todd (Robertson, Houde-Caron) within a span of 2:52 to take a 3-1 lead into the first intermission. Shots in the period favoured UNB 12-6.

The two teams traded goals in the middle frame. The Varsity Reds extended their lead to three with a goal by Cam Braes (Culligan, Wright) only to see Dalhousie respond just over ten minutes later. That was the only scoring in the period as UNB out-shot the Tigers 10-8.

The V-Reds put the game away with a pair of goals early in the 3rd period. Thomas Nesbitt (MacNeil) scored 57 seconds into the stanza and that was followed by a Tyler Carroll (Culligan, Robertson) goal only 2:11 later. The Tigers found the back of the net late in the period to make it a 6-3 final. UNB held a 15-6 advantage in shots in the period and 37-20 in the game.

- Taylor MacDougall, Chad Denny, and Luke Lynes were scratched for UNB.

- Travis Fullerton made 17 saves to pick up the victory.

- UNB was 0 for 4 on the power play. Dalhousie was 1 for 5.

- Marc-Antoine Desnoyers was +4 in the game.

- In other AUS action tonight Acadia defeated UPEI 4-2, Moncton beat Saint Mary's 3-2 in overtime, and St. FX got by St. Thomas by a 4-1 count.

- With Acadia's win tonight over the Panthers they maintain their two point lead over UNB for top spot in the conference. UNB will be looking to move into a tie for first place tomorrow night when they host the Axemen at 7PM.


Thursday, November 15, 2012

V-Reds Welcome Tigers, Axemen This Weekend

The University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds are back at home this weekend as they host the Dalhousie Tigers on Friday night and Acadia Axemen Saturday night. Puck drop for both games is  scheduled for 7PM. It should also be noted that Friday night's game will be the annual North Side Elementary School Night so we recommend arriving a little early to ensure your seat.

This will be UNB's 2nd meeting of the season with both of these teams. On October 26th the V-Reds lost their first, and so far only, road game of the season with a 4-2 setback at the hand of the Axemen. They rebounded the next night with a late rally to defeat Dalhousie 4-2.

The V-Reds (7-3-0 conference record, 11-4-0 overall) are coming off of a weekend in which they picked up a pair of victories. On Friday night they made their debut at the new Grant*Harvey Centre and skated away with a dominating 6-1 victory over St. Thomas. The following evening they traveled to Charlottetown for a date with the UPEI Panthers and emerged with a 3-2 win. UNB, currently ranked 4th in the men's hockey rankings, now sits in 2nd place in the AUS with 14 points, one point ahead of Moncton and two up on Saint Mary's.

The Varsity Reds have surprisingly struggled at the AUC thus far this year, only going 2-2 in their first 4 games. By comparison, the V-Reds had compiled a 26-2 record at home over the last two years - and 63-6-1 over the previous five seasons. This may be attributed to a defense that has allowed 3.50 goals per game at home (compared to 1.83 on the road) and goaltending that has a save percentage of only 0.843 at home (compared to 0.907 on the road). The power play (11.1 at home, 31.2% on road) and penalty killing (77.4% at home, 81.6% on road) have also been better away from the Aitken Centre.

The V-Reds have been led offensively by Colby Pridham (4 goals, 11 assists), Chris Culligan (2g, 8a), Cam Braes (4g, 5a), Thomas Nesbitt (5g, 4a), and Tyler Carroll (4g, 3a). Chad Denny (2g, 3a), Daine Todd (5a), Marc-Antoine Desnoyers (4a, team leading +10), and Ben Wright (1g, 3a) have provided solid production from the blue-line, while Dan LaCosta (5-0, 1.80 GAA, 0.924 save percentage) and Travis Fullerton (2-3, 3.24 GAA, 0.820 save percentage) continue to split the playing time almost 50/50 in net.

The Tigers have lost their last two games and now find themselves in 7th place in the AUS with a 3-5-2 record, 3 points out of the 6th and final playoff spot. Despite this they are in middle of the pack goals per game (5th at 3.20) and shots per game (5th at 30.1), as well as 2nd in the conference with power play percentage of 22.6%. However, as has been the case in recent year, the Tigers are prone to defensive lapses, as evidenced by their 3.44 GAA (7th), 0.880 save percentage (6th), and penalty killing percentage of 78.9% (6th)

Dalhousie features an offense that includes Pierre-Alexandre Vandall (8g, 7a), Patrick Daley (4g, 4a), Benjamin Breault (1g, 6a), and Brett Theberge (1g, 6a), while Jacob Johnston (1g, 6a) has provided offense from the back-end. The Tigers have used three goalies already this season, with Wendall Vye (3.51 GAA, 0.869 save percentage) getting the majority of the playing time between the pipes even though Bobby Nadeau has posted better numbers (3.33 GAA, 0.900 save percentage). 

The Axemen (8-2-0) have undoubtedly been the best team in the conference so far as they sit on top of the standings, two points ahead of the V-Reds. Their recent run of 8 wins in 9 games has moved Acadia up to #2 in the latest top ten rankings. Of course, given their record, Acadia is near the top of the league in a number of statistical categories, including goals per game (3rd at 3.70), shots per game (1st at 36.8), penalty minutes (1st at 159), penalty killing percentage (1st at 89.5%), and goal against average (1st at 2.15). One area in which they have struggled has been on the man advantage as their 14.0% success rate is good enough for only 7th.

Once again Acadia has relied heavily on defenceman Christopher Owens (4g, 10a) and forward Andrew Clark (5g, 7a), arguably the two best players in the AUS. They have been complemented by highly touted rookies Mike Cazzola (3g, 6a) and Brett Thompson (5g, 3a), as well as veterans Dustin Ekelman (5g, 4a), Cullen Morin (1g, 7a), and Jonathan Laberge (3g, 4a). Pete DiSalvo has received the bulk of the playing time in net and has responded with a 1.62 GAA and 0.920 save percentage in almost 520 minutes of work.
 
Both games will be web-cast as well as broadcast on CHSR-FM (97.9 on your radio dial or online here). You can also follow UNBHockey on Twitter for updates.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

CIS Men's Hockey Top Ten (#6): UNB Moves Up To 4th

OTTAWA (CIS) – In men’s hockey, the Golden Bears (9-3) move up one spot in the sixth Top 10 of the season and return to the No. 1 position they had occupy for one week in mid-October. The 17-member media panel split the first-place votes between five teams this week, including 10 to Alberta, three to No. 2 Acadia (8-2), two to No. 3 Saskatchewan (8-2) and one apiece to No. 4 UNB (7-3) and No. 5 UQTR (7-3-1).

The Bears swept a two-game series against provincial rival Calgary over the weekend, 5-2 and 4-1. Meanwhile, Saskatchewan, which was ranked No. 1 each of the past two weeks, edged Regina 2-1 in overtime on Friday before dropping the rematch by the same score, in regulation, on Saturday.
 
(regular season record) / votes (first-place votes) / (previous rankings)
1. Alberta (9-3-0) / 159 points (10) / (2)
2. Acadia (8-2-0) / 145 (3) / (3)
3. Saskatchewan (8-2-0) / 138 (2) / (1)
4. UNB (7-3-0) / 120 (1) / (6)

5. UQTR (7-3-1) / 94 (1) / (4)
6. Moncton (6-3-1) / 71 / (5)
7. Windsor (8-2-0) / 58 / (10)
8. Lakehead (7-3-2) / 41 / (7)
9. Western (7-3-0) / 27 / (NR)
10. Saint Mary’s (6-4-0) / 21 / (8)

Also receiving votes: Manitoba (18), Toronto (13), Calgary (8), Guelph (7), StFX (6), McGill (3), UBC (3), Regina (2), UPEI (1).

Saturday, November 10, 2012

V-Reds Nip Panthers On The Island

UPDATE: The Guardian has their game recap posted.

The University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds picked up their 2nd win of the weekend, and 4th in 5 games, with a 3-2 victory over the UPEI Panthers tonight in Charlottetown. The victory moves UNB to 7-3-0 on the season and into sole possession of 2nd place in the AUS, two points behind Acadia.

After a scoreless first period the V-Reds took a 2-0 lead with a pair of goals in the first 1:02 of the second period. Thomas Nesbitt (Desnoyers, Todd) gave the V-Reds a 1-0 lead 40 second into the frame and Colby Pridham (Culligan, Wright) doubled the lead only 22 second later. However, the Panthers answered back with a power play goal at 4:41 and an even strength marker at 8:54 to send the game to the third period all square at 2.

The Varsity Reds came out strong in the final period and controlled the majority of play, but they would find themselves in a familiar situation - being forced to kill off a 5-on-3. UNB was up to the challenge and only 31 seconds later they would take a 3-2 lead when Antoine Houde-Caron (unassisted) made a nifty play in close to get the puck up over Panthers goalie Mavric Parks. The Panthers pulled their goalie in the last minute and survived a couple of UNB shots towards the empty net before forcing Dan LaCosta to make a great save from in close in the dying seconds, preserving the victory for the V-Reds.

- Adrian Robertson was back in the line-up for UNB, replacing Chad Denny. Stefan Salituro and Luke Lynes remained out.

- Taylor MacDougall left the game early in the first period due to an apparent injury. 

- Final shots were 30-25 for UNB.

- UNB was 0 for 3 on the power play. UPEI was 1 for 4.

- Attendance was 1349.

- Other AUS action tonight seen Moncton defeat St. Thomas 3-2 in Fredericton and Acadia picking up a 2-1 road victory over St. FX.

- The V-Reds are back at the AUC next weekend for games against Dalhousie on Friday night and Acadia the following evening.

Friday, November 9, 2012

New Rink, Same Result For V-Reds

The University of New Brunswick made themselves right at home in their debut at the Grant*Harvey Centre, defeating the St. Thomas Tommies 6-1 tonight before an announced attendance of 1772. This also marked the 200th all-time meeting between the two rivals, with UNB currently holding a 138-54-8 record in those game.

Thomas Nesbitt got UNB on the board 6:28 into the game when his quick snap shot from the face-off circle to the right of Tommies goalie Jonathan Groenheyde made its way into the net. The goal, which came on the power play and was assisted by Daine Todd and Colby Pridham, was the lone goal of the period despite UNB holding a 10-1 advantage in shots.

The Varsity Reds would break the game open in the middle stanza, scoring 3 goals and out-shooting the Tommies 18-0. Tyler Carroll (Swan, Shutron) sniped a power play goal at 10:48, Nick MacNeil (Braes) made it 3-0 at 13:28 after some fortunate bounces kept the puck in STU's zone, and Bryce Swan (Critchlow, Todd) rounded out the scoring in the period when he got a short break away and beat Groenheyde with a shot along the ice. Shots after two period were 28-1 for UNB.

The V-Reds power play continued to click in the 3rd period as both of their goals came with the man advantage. Geordie Wudrick (Culligan, Braes) picked up a rebound and fired it into a wide open net at 11:13, only for Chris Morehouse to answer just 8 seconds later for the Tommies when his shot beat Travis Fullerton. Chris Culligan (Desnoyers) would put the finishing touches on a dominating display by the V-Reds with a goal at 14:07. Shots favoured UNB 17-6 in the period and 45-7 in the game.     

- Adrian Robertson took the pre-game warm-up but did not play. Josh Kidd replaced him in the line-up. Stefan Salituro and Luke Lynes were also scratched.

- Players of the game were Swan, Culligan, and Groenheyde.

- UNB ended up 4 for 7 on the power play. STU was scoreless on 3 opportunities.

- Face-offs favoured UNB 49-22.

- Tommies goalie Jonathan Groenheyde made 30 saves on 34 shots before leaving in the 3rd period with an apparent injury. Backup Justin Collier turned aside 9 out of 11 shots in relief.

- Tyler Carroll took a Chad Denny shot off his ankle in the first period and was in visible discomfort coming off the ice. Daine Todd was also shaken up in the early going after taking a puck to the head/helmet. Fortunately, neither player missed much time.

- Thomas Nesbitt played arguably his strongest game in a V-Reds uniform as he scored a goal, had 4 shots on goal, and created numerous turnovers and scoring chances because of his strong fore-checking.

- Matt Filler, Ben Wright, and Pridham were the alternate captains for the game.

- In other AUS action tonight St. FX earned a 5-4 overtime victory over Dalhousie in Antigonish, Acadia defeated Saint Mary's 3-2 in Halifax, and UPEI picked up a big 6-3 road win against Moncton.

- The Varsity Reds travel to Charlottetown to face UPEI tomorrow night. Other games include Moncton at St. Thomas and Acadia at St. FX.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

V-Reds Make GHC Debut Tomorrow Night

A new chapter in the Battle of the Hill will be written tomorrow night when the University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds travel up the hill for the first time to make their first appearance at the new Grant*Harvey Centre against the St. Thomas Tommies. Game time is scheduled for 7PM.

The V-Reds (5-3-0 conference record, 9-4-0 overall) are coming off of a weekend in which they split a pair of games at home. On Friday night they defeated St. FX 5-3, before falling to Saint Mary's by a 4-3 margin the next evening. These results dropped UNB to 6th spot in the latest men's hockey top ten, their lowest ranking since October of 2006. They currently sit 4th in the AUS with 10 points, two behind Acadia and Saint Mary's and one back of Moncton.

UNB has been much better on the road in the early going, compiling a 3-1 record and outscoring their opposition 14-8. They have also been better with the man advantage away from the AUC, operating at a 27.3% mark. However, the disparity in penalties continues to be an issue for the V-Reds. They have received the 2nd fewest power play opportunities (40, 8 more than STU) in the conference, but have been shorthanded far and away the most (61 times). SMU and Dalhousie have been shorthanded 60 and 51 times, respectively, but in one more game. UPEI and Moncton, at 44 each, are the next closest. The V-Reds 13 power play goals allowed is also a league-worst.

The Varsity Reds have been led offensively by Colby Pridham (3 goals, 6 assists), Chris Culligan (1g, 6 a), Cam Braes (4g, 3a), Thomas Nesbitt (3g, 4a), and Tyler carroll (3g, 3a). Dan LaCosta continues his strong play in net with a 4-0 record, 1.75 GAA, and 0.925 save percentage so far.

The Tommies (0-8-0, 0-9-0) struggles continued last weekend as they dropped a pair of games in Nova Scotia - 3-2 against Acadia on Friday and 2-0 to Dalhousie on Saturday. They now find themselves 7 points out of 7th place and 9 points out of a playoff spot.

As one would expect, given their record, St. Thomas finds itself near the bottom of the conference in a number of categories. They rank last in the AUS in goals per game (1.11), shots per game (22.0), power play goals (3), power play opportunities (34), power play percentage (9.4%), shows allowed per game (37.8), and goals allowed per game (3.88). They also rank 7th in the league in penalty killing at 78.6%.

One bright spot so far has been the play of goaltenders Jon Groenheyde and Justin Collier who, despite facing a ton of shots, rank 4th in the league with a .898 save percentage. Meanwhile, Stephen Sanza (2g, 2a), Jonathan Bonneau (1g, 2a), Marc-Andre Levesque (3a), captain Felix Poulin (1g, 2a), and Mike Reich (2g, 1a) have provided the bulk of the Tommies offense.

If you cannot make it to the game it will be web-cast here as well as broadcasted by CHSR-FM (either by tuning your radio dial to 97.9 or listening online). You can also follow UNBHockey on Twitter for updates.



Tuesday, November 6, 2012

CIS Men's Hockey Top Ten (#5): UNB Continues Fall

OTTAWA (CIS) – The University of Saskatchewan Huskies top the CIS men’s hockey national rankings for the second straight week.

The Huskies (7-1-0) once again received 15 first-place votes from the 17-member media panel to remain ahead of their Canada West archrivals, the Alberta Golden Bears (7-3-0), who finished second in the voting for the second week in a row. Alberta and the UQTR Patriotes (6-2-1) both earned a first-place nod in the fifth poll of the campaign.

There is a lot of movement behind the two leaders in the new Top 10.

The Acadia Axemen (6-2-0) move up three spots to No. 3; UQTR is up one to No. 4; Moncton (5-2-1) is down a pair to No. 5; UNB (5-3-0) is also down two positions to a season-low No. 6; Lakehead (6-3-1) is up one to No. 7; Saint Mary’s (5-3-0) is ranked nationally for the first time this season, at No. 8; Calgary (5-3-0) is up one spot to No. 9; and Windsor (6-2-0) makes its way to the Top 10 for the first time in 13 years, at No. 10.

The Lancers swept a two-game series against Toronto – ranked ninth last week – over the weekend, 5-3 and 3-1, to earn their first CIS ranking since the March 15, 1999 poll (No. 6).

No. 1 Saskatchewan enjoyed a break in its Canada West schedule last week and gets back on the ice this weekend for a home-and-away doubleheader against provincial rival Regina (5-3-0).

No. 2 Alberta showed no mercy for CIS newcomer Mount Royal last weekend, sweeping the Cougars 6-2 and 7-1. The Bears are now gearing up for a home-and-away showdown with ninth-ranked

Calgary with the series opener set for Friday night in Edmonton.

No. 3 Acadia edged St. Thomas 3-2 last Friday before dominating a Top-10 battle against Moncton on Saturday by a 4-0 score. The Axemen face another stiff test Friday night when they visit No. 8 Saint Mary’s in Halifax.

Other games to keep an eye on this weekend include a two-match set between OUA East-leading UQTR and OUA West-leading Lakehead in Thunder Bay, Ont.


CIS MEN’S HOCKEY TOP 10 (#5)

Voting is based on a 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis, with a 1st place vote worth 10 points. The CIS Men’s Ice Hockey Top Ten Committee is made up of media members from across Canada.

(regular season record) / votes (first-place votes) / (previous rankings)
1. Saskatchewan (7-1-0) / 164 points (15) / (1)
2. Alberta (7-3-0) / 144 (1) / (2)
3. Acadia (6-2-0) / 129 / (6)
4. UQTR (6-2-1) / 110 (1) / (5)
5. Moncton (5-2-1) / 100 / (3)
6. UNB (5-3-0) / 82 / (4)
7. Lakehead (6-3-1) / 48 / (8)
8. Saint Mary’s (5-3-0) / 40 / (NR)
9. Calgary (5-3-0) / 35 / (10)
10. Windsor (6-2-0) / 29 / (NR)

Also receiving votes: StFX (17), Toronto (16), McGill (6), Ottawa (5), Western (4), Carleton (3), Manitoba (2), UPEI (1).

-CIS-

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Barrage Of Penalties Does In UNB

The University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds fell to 5-3-0 on the season after suffering a tough 4-3 loss to the Saint Mary's Huskies tonight at the AUC. The game that featured 13 power plays for the Huskies to only 3 for UNB.

The Varsity Reds led 2-1 after the first period but a number of penalties eventually caught up to UNB as the Huskies tied the game on the power play in the second period, and went up 4-2 with a pair of 5-on-3 goals only 52 seconds apart in the third. Colby Pridham scored his 3rd goal of the season against his former team to cut the deficit to one with just 5 minutes remaining but UNB was unable to find the equalizer.

We know people will be talking about the refereeing in this game and, while some of the calls were questionable, most of them were deserved. The fact is UNB gave St. FX 6 straight power plays in their game two week ago, another 5 straight to the X-Men last night, and 8 straight (and 10 out of the last 11) to Saint Mary's tonight and you can't continue to do that and expect to be successful. The V-Reds lack of discipline thus far continues to be a concer and is something that needs to be rectified sooner than later.

-  UNB only dressed 5 defencemen for the game. Adrian Robertson and Josh Kidd were out while Nick MacNeil was back in the line-up after serving a one game suspension for a 5 minute major penalty he picked up last weekend.

- Along with Pridham, Cameron Critchlow and Thomas Nesbitt also scored for UNB. Bryce Swan, Cam Braes, Chris Culligan, and Marc-Antoine Desnoyers all picked up assists on the night.

- After giving up the first 7 shots of the game UNB held a 37-13 advantage the rest of the way for a game total of 37-20.

- UNB was 0 for 3 with 4 shots in 4:29 of power play time. Saint Mary's was 3 for 13 with 8 shots in 15:33 on the man advantage. The V-Reds managed to kill off their first 8 shorthanded situations before giving up 3 goals on their last 5.

- The V-Reds went 39 and 28 in the face-off circle. Pridham won 12 out of his 18 draws.

- Travis Fullerton took the loss in net and Anthony Peters picked up the victory.

- Attendance was 2238.

- The Huskies were the only road team to win in the AUS tonight. Other winners included Dalhousie (2-0 over St. Thomas), Acadia (4-0 over Moncton), and UPEI (3-2 over St. FX in overtime).

Friday, November 2, 2012

UNB Sweats Out Victory Over X-Men

UPDATE: David Kilfoil, via UNB Athletics, and hockeyscene.com both have their game recaps posted.

The University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds hung on for a crucial 5-3 victory over the visiting St. FX X-Men tonight at the AUC. With the win the V-Reds remained tied with Acadia for second place in the AUS, a point behind Moncton. The Varsity Reds built a 4-1 lead through two periods before seeing their lead cut to one after St.FX scored two quick goals midway through the final frame. An empty netter salted away UNB's 5th win of the season.

- Geordie Wudrick (Wright, MacDougall), Chris Culligan (Carroll, Pridham), and Adrian Roberston (Salituro, Swan) staked UNB to a 3-0 lead only 7:11 into the opening period, outshooting the X-Men 10-0 in the process. Steven Kuhn got St. FX on the board at 11:45. Shots in the first period were 17-5 for UNB.

- The Varsity Reds restored their 3 goal lead at 16:14 of the second period thanks to a "Chad Denny Special". Denny received the puck at the point after a face-off win and wired a slap shot that goalie Drew Owsley did not appear to see. Wudrick and Cameron Critchlow picked up assists on the goal. This came shortly after Denny had taken a penalty that put UNB two men down for 1:02. Shots in the period were 11-10 for St. FX.

- The Varsity Reds controlled most of the play in the third period but Jarrad Struthers converted on a power play at 11:01 to cut the lead in half and then, only 32 seconds later, Brad Cuzner wristed a shot from the blue line that got through both a screen in front as well as goalie Dan LaCosta to suddenly make it a 4-3 game. Matt Fillier (Culligan, Pridham) put the game away with an empty net goal with 12 seconds left. UNB outshot St. FX 13-11 in the period and 40-27 in the game.

- Culligan and Swan were both back in the line-up after each were on the receiving end of some hard hits last weekend. Culligan did spend a majority of the game playing right wing, as opposed to his usual centre position. Josh Kidd and Nick MacNeil were both out of the line-up.

- The V-Reds were 0 for 3 with the man advantage. St. FX managed a goal on 6 opportunities.

- UNB won 40 out of the 72 face-offs in the game. Cam Braes went 11 and 4, while Pridham was 11 and 9 in the dot.

- Attendance was 2437.

- The final seconds of the game were delayed for a short while after a fan jumped onto the ice near the St. FX net. He was quickly taken down by one of the refs and escorted off the ice. 

- In other AUS action tonight Saint Mary's went on the road to defeat UPEI 7-5, Acadia picked up a home win over St. Thomas 3-2, and Moncton doubled up Dalhousie 4-2 in Halifax.

- UNB hosts Saint Mary's tomorrow night at the AUC. Game time is 7PM and it will be web-cast online as well as broadcast on CHSR-FM (either 97.9 on your radio dial or online).

Thursday, November 1, 2012

V-Reds Back At Home This Weekend

After playing four consecutive games in Nova Scotia the University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds return to the friendly confines of the Aitken Centre for a pair of games this weekend, beginning tomorrow night against a visiting St. FX X-Men team that is currently tied with both UNB and Acadia for 2nd place in the AUS. Game time is scheduled for 7PM.

The V-Reds (4-2-0 conference record, 8-3-0 CIS record) find themselves in an unfamiliar position as their 4th place showing in the latest CIS Top Ten marks the lowest UNB has been ranked since January 2009. The X-Men (4-2-0, 8-2-1), meanwhile, dropped two spots from 5th to 7th.

KEY STATS: The Varsity Reds continue to hover near the top of the league in both goals scored per game (3rd at 3.50) and fewest goals allowed per game (t-1st at 2.50). However, they are still having trouble getting the puck on net as evidenced by their 5th place ranking in shots on goal (26.50), a figure that is almost 10 shots per game lower than what we have been accustomed to seeing the last 4 or 5 years. After failing to produce at least 30 shots in a game only 6 times last season, the V-Reds already have 5 such games this year. A shooting percentage of 13.2% (2nd) has off-set the lack of shots thus far. The V-Reds have still been doing an exceptional job of limiting their opponent's chances, though, as they have allowed a league-low 21.33 shots per game. Another bright spot has been a much improved power play, which sits 2nd in the conference with at 23.5% success rate. This is boosted by a 3 goal performance against the X-Men in their first meeting two weeks ago. However, the combination of taking lots of penalties (3rd most with 52 - 12 more than their opponents) and a poor penalty killing percentage (6th at 78.6%) means the V-Reds have given up a league-high 9 power play goals.

Despite finding themselves in a tie for 2nd place with a 4-2-0 record the X-Men sit in lower half of the league in a number of categories through 6 games, including goals per game (t-4th at 3.33), goals allowed per game (6th at 3.17), shots per game (t-6th at 25.83), power play goals (t-6th with 5), shots allowed per game (6th at 31.3), power play percentage (6th at 16.1%), and penalty killing percentage (7th at 75.0%). They have survived mainly due to three things - being disciplined (league-low 12.67 penalty minutes per game), being opportunistic (t-3rd with a shooting percentage of 12.9%), and good goaltending (3rd with 0.899 save percentage).

HEAD TO HEAD: This is the second meeting of the season between the two teams, and the first at the AUC. The V-Reds prevailed 4-2 on October 20th in Antigonish behind a 3 point (1 goal, 2 assists) performance by Chad Denny. The win improved UNB's record to 11-1-1 over the last 4 seasons against St. FX in conference play. They are also 7-0-1 in their last 8 visits to the Keating Millenium Centre. Of course, as we all know, the playoffs have been an entirely different story.

The two teams will meet twice more in the regular season - January 11th in Antigonish and January 26th in Fredericton.

RECENT GAMES: The V-Reds are coming off of a 1-1 road trip to Acadia and Dalhousie last weekend. On Friday night the Axemen scored 3 power play goals in the first period and UNB was never able to recover, dropping a 4-2 decision. The following night the V-Reds found themselves trailing 2-1 late in the 3rd period to the Tigers before scoring 3 unanswered goals to pull out a 4-2 win. Cam Braes led the attack with 2 goals and an assist.

The X-Men also split their two games last weekend. They were in Fredericton on Friday to face St. Thomas and got a goal with under 3 minutes remaining to escape with a 3-2 victory. On Saturday they traveled down the Trans-Canada to Moncton where they fell by a 4-2 count to the Aigles Bleus in a game they never led. 

WHO TO WATCH FOR ON ST. FX: Through 6 games the X-Men have been led offensively by 2010-2011 CIS Rookie of the Year Jason Bast (2 goals, 6 assists), who also leads the team by a wide margin with 25 shots on goal - 10 more than the next closest player,  Brennan Wray (1g, 5a), rookie Cory MacIntosh (3 goals on 4 shots, 4 points in 5 games), and 2011-2012 AUS Rookie of the Year and former Saint John Sea Dog Michael Kirkpatrick (2g, 2a). Defencemen Spencer MacAvoy (2g, 2a), R.D. Chisholm (1g, 3a), Josh Day (1g, 2a), and highly touted rookie Bronson Maschmeyer (1g, 1a) form one of the most dangerous bluelines in the conference. Joey Perricone has been the majority of time between the pipes (240 minutes, 3.00 GAA, 0.893 save percentage) but rookie Drew Owsley has arguably outperformed the veteran thus far proven to be a very capable back-up so far with a 2-0 record, 3.00 GAA, and 0.919 save percentage in 120 minutes. 

WHO TO WATCH FOR ON UNB: The V-Reds feature a balance scoring attack with 12 different players finding the back of the net already. Cam Braes (4g, 2a), Thomas Nesbitt (2g, 4a, team-high 18 shots), and Colby Pridham (2g, 4a, +5) have led the way thus far, but have received plenty of support from Tyler Carroll (3g, 2a), Nick MacNeil (3g, 2a), Chad Denny (1g, 3a), and Chris Culligan (4a in 4 games). Matt Fillier (1g, 2a) and Antoine Houde-Caron (1g, 1a) have provided a spark on the 4th line while defencemen Ben Shutron (1g, 1a) and Marc-Antoine Desnoyers (1a) have helped out in other ways besides scoring, as evidenced by their +4 and +5 ratings, respectively. Goaltender Dan LaCosta (1.33 GAA, 0.939 save percentage) continues to make his case for more playing time going forward, while Travis Fullerton (3.72 GAA, 0.823 save percentage) continues to endure his worst stretch since coming to UNB, to the shock of many.

FOLLOW ALONG: If you can't make it out to the game it will be shown live on Rogers TV in New Brunswick (channel 10 on cable), web-cast here, and broadcast on CHSR-FM either by tuning to 97.9 on your radio dial or listening online. You can also follow UNBHockey on Twitter or updates.

ELSEWHERE IN THE AUS:
Saint Mary's at UPEI
Moncton at Dalhousie
St. Thomas at Acadia

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Wednesday Links

A couple articles of interest concerning some current and future V-Reds:

- "Captain Cully" from Nick Murray of The Brunswickan
- "Shutron enjoying time at UNB" from Windsor This Week
- "The man they call Lavigne" from the Newfoundland and Labrador Compass

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

CIS Men's Hockey Top Ten (#4): UNB Tumbles To 4th

OTTAWA (CIS) – The game of musical chairs continues this week in CIS men’s hockey. For the fourth time in as many national polls released this season, a new team sits in the driver’s seat.

The University of Saskatchewan Huskies (7-1-0) are the new team to beat according to the 17-member media panel. The Huskies, who occupied the second spot a week ago, received 15 first-place votes and 159 points in the new poll to merit No. 1 status for the first time since the 2005-06 campaign, when they topped 10 consecutive rankings from early November to late January.

The UNB Varsity Reds, Alberta Golden Bears, and UNB again had previously been ranked No. 1 this fall.

The remaining first-place nods this week went to the surprising Toronto Varsity Blues (5-0-1), who make their first Top 10 appearance since 2003-04, in ninth place. The Blues were also ranked ninth on March 16, 2004.

Rounding out the new Top 10 are the No. 2 Alberta Golden Bears (5-3-0), up two positions; No. 3 Moncton Aigles Bleus (4-1-1), up three; No. 4 UNB Varsity Reds (4-2-0), down three; No. 5 UQTR Patriotes (5-2-0), down a pair; No. 6 Acadia Axemen (4-2-0), up one; No. 7 StFX X-Men (4-2-0), down two; No. 8 Lakehead Thunderwolves (5-2-1), the only team to stay put this week; and No. 10 Calgary Dinos (5-3-0), down one.

Saskatchewan, Alberta and Moncton all went 2-for-2 in the last seven days.

The Huskies travelled to Vancouver and swept a two-game set against UBC, 5-4 and 5-1. The Bears were also on the road this past weekend and dominated Lethbridge 7-1 and 10-3. The Aigles Bleus beat Saint Mary’s 7-2 and StFX 4-2 on home ice.

Meanwhile, UNB suffered its second loss of the young season on Friday night, dropping a 4-2 decision at Acadia. The V-Reds rebounded the next night with a 4-2 win at Dalhousie.

Top-10 battles to keep an eye on this weekend include No. 7 StFX at No. 4 UNB on Friday, and No. 3 Moncton at No. 6 Acadia on Saturday.

Top-ranked Saskatchewan enjoys a break in its Canada West schedule this week.

CIS MEN’S HOCKEY TOP 10 (#4)

Voting is based on a 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis, with a 1st place vote worth 10 points. The CIS Men’s Ice Hockey Top Ten Committee is made up of media members from across Canada.

(regular season record) / votes (first-place votes) / (previous rankings)
1. Saskatchewan (7-1-0) / 159 points (15) / (2)
2. Alberta (5-3-0) / 129 / (4)
3. Moncton (4-1-1) / 124 / (6)
4. UNB (4-2-0) / 121 / (1)
5. UQTR (5-2-0) / 102 / (3)
6. Acadia (4-2-0) / 90 / (7)
7. StFX (4-2-0) / 64 / (5)
8. Lakehead (5-2-1) / 50 / (8)
9. Toronto (5-0-1) / 48 (2) / (NR)
10. Calgary (5-3-0) / 30 / (9)

-CIS-

Saturday, October 27, 2012

V-Reds Gain Weekend Split

UPDATE: David Kilfoil has his AUS Weekly Update posted over at the CIS Blog and www.hockeyscene.com has a recap up. The AUS has also finally posted the box score.

The University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds defeated the Dalhousie Tigers 4-2 tonight in Halifax to gain a split on their two game weekend trek to Nova Scotia. UNB trailed 2-1 early in the 3rd period but came back with 3 straight goals from Cam Braes (his second of the game, on the power play at 14:58), Matt Fillier (15:05), and Taylor MacDougall (empty net at 19:54) to secure the victory.


V-Reds, Tigers Clash Tonight

The University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds look to salvage the final game of their weekend road trip when they travel to Halifax for a 7PM game against the Dalhousie Tigers at the Halifax Forum.

The 4th place Varsity Reds (3-2-0 AUS record, 8-3-0 CIS record) are coming off of a 4-2 loss last night in Wolfville to the Acadia Axemen, in a game that pitted two teams who were tied for first place. UNB trailed 3-0 after the first period and 4-0 after the second before a pair of third period goals by Nick MacNeil and Cam Braes made the final score look a little more respectable. Travis Fullerton stopped 16 out of 20 shots in the loss. Captain Chris Culligan returned to the line-up after missing last weekend with the flu but was held off the score sheet.

The Tigers (2-2-1, 2-4-1 ) currently sit in 5th place in the AUS, a single point behind the V-Reds. They have been a much improved team since new head coach Chris Donnelly took over the team last Christmas, guiding the Tigers to a 5-7-2 record in the 2nd half after former coach Pete Belliveau only managed a 2-11-1 record before the break. Last night Dalhousie recorded only their 2nd shutout in the last 9 seasons when they blanked the visiting UPEI Panthers 3-0, with both Bobby Nadeau and Wendall Vye splitting duties between the pipes. They are currently being led offensively by Patrick Daley (4 goals, 4 assists), Pier-Alexandre Vandall (4g, 3a), and Brett Therberge (1g, 6a). Benjamin Breault, their leading scorer for the last two seasons and a top candidate to be among the conferences top scorers this year, has been quiet thus far, picking up just 2 assists in his first 4 games.

If you cannot make it to the game it will be web-cast here. You can also follow UNBHockey on Twitter for updates.

In other action around the AUS tonight the UPEI Panthers travel to Acadia, the St. Thomas Tommies host the Saint Mary's Huskies, and the St. FX X-Men visit Moncton.

Friday, October 26, 2012

V-Reds No Match For Axemen

UPDATE: The Acadia website and hockeyscene.com both have posted recaps of the game. The AUS boxscore can be found here.

The University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds gave up 3 power play goals in the first period and never recovered, falling by a score of 4-2 to the Acadia Axemen tonight in Wolfville.

The game started out ominously for UNB when they took a penalty only moments after the opening faceoff, and shortly after that a turnover at the V-Reds blue line led to an Axemen goal only 46 seconds into the contest when Dustin Eckelman was all alone in front and deked the puck past Travis Fullerton. UNB would fail to convert on two back-to back-power plays of their own before the Axemen got a 5-on-3, with reigning CIS Player of the Year Andrew Clark making it a 2-0 game. Things went from bad to worse for the V-Reds in the last minute of play when the Axemen made it a three goal game with Bryce Swan sitting in the penalty box, courtesy Jonathan Laberge.

The Axemen would continue to stifle UNB in the second period, only surrendering 3 shots on goal, and added to their lead when Brett Thompson followed up a Mike Cozzolla rush by knocking in the rebound.

UNB came out with a better third period, generating a few more scoring chances, and finally broke Peter DiSalvo's shutout bid with 9:10 left after the rebound of Colby Pridham's sharp angle shot dropped at DiSalvo's feet, where Nick MacNeil was there to bang it home. Cam Braes would bring UNB within two goals with under 2 minutes remaining after it appeared the puck hit something above the ice surface. However, the refs conferred and ruled it a good goal. Unfortunately that was as close as UNB would get as their move to pull Fullerton in the final minutes was quickly nullified by an untimely penalty.

- Chris Culligan and Marc-Antoine Desnoyers were back in the lineup. Geordie Wudrick, Stefan Salituro, and Luke Lynes were out.

- UNB had 22 shots on goal. Acadia registered 20.

- Acadia was 3 for 8 on the power play. The V-Reds were scoreless on their 3 opportunities, all in the opening 20 minutes.

- UNB was 31 for 57 in the face-off circle.

- Bryce Swan left the game in the third period after colliding with an Axemen player. He was grabbing the back of his left leg and needed help getting to the dressing room. He didn't put any pressure on his leg and he looked to be in considerable pain.

- Later in the third period Ben Shutron was leveled with a massive, clean, open-ice hit as he was skating through the neutral zone. He appeared to be ok though.

- With the loss UNB (now 3-2-0) falls to 4th place, behind Acadia and St. FX (tied for 1st at 4-1-0) and Moncton (3-1-1)

- UNB travels to Halifax tomorrow for a date with the Dalhousie Tigers at 7PM.

- In other AUS action tonight Moncton beat Saint Mary's 7-2 at home, St. FX scored a 3-2 road victory over St. Thomas, and Dalhousie shutout UPEI at home 3-0.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

V-Reds Back On The Road This Weekend

The University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds are back in Nova Scotia for the second consecutive weekend, beginning Friday night with a first place showdown against the Acadia Axemen in Wolfville. Game time is scheduled for 7PM.

The V-Reds (3-1-0 conference record, 8-2-0 overall vs. CIS teams) reclaimed the top spot in the latest CIS rankings after a successful road trip last week in which they defeated both Saint Mary's and St. FX. The Axemen (3-1-0, 5-3-1), meanwhile, made their first appearance in the top-10 since January, coming in at 7th.

KEY STATS: The V-Reds are once again among the top scoring teams in the AUS (3rd with 3.75 goals per game), as well as being the stingiest (1st with 2.25 goals allowed per game). However, one area in which they need to improve is getting the puck on net. Through 4 games UNB is averaging only 27.5 shots per game, a far cry from the 36.0 they averaged last year. This has been offset thus far by an improved shooting percentage of 13.6% (4th), compared to 11.9% and 11.1% the previous two years, and power play, operating at a league-leading 29.2% after seasons of 17.6% and 18.7%. They are also leading the conference in fewest shots allowed per game (21.0) and are 2nd in save percentage (0.903).

Acadia put together another solid season last year with a 16-10-2 record, although a late slide (1-4-1 in last 6 games) cost them a chance at a first round bye and they instead had to settle for 5th place overall. They pushed UPEI in their first round playoff series as all 3 games were one goal affairs, but they eventually fell 6-5 in overtime in the deciding game to the hometown Panthers. It marked their 8th straight year in the postseason and 4th straight year with at least 14 wins.

The Axemen also find themselves near the top of many categories. They lead the league in goals per game (4.75), shots per game (40.0), and penalty minutes (only 11.0 per game), and are 3rd in penalty killing (84.6%). They have struggled in areas as well, though. Their power play ranks last in the conference with a 11.1% success rate (after being 3rd at 19.3% last season) and their save percentage is also the worst in the league at 0.860, despite ranking 4th with 3.00 goals allowed per game. This is attributed to the fact that the Axemen only give up 21.25 shots per game (2nd, only 0.25 behind UNB).

HEAD TO HEAD: This is the first meeting of the season between UNB and Acadia. In an odd scheduling quirk the two teams will play three games against one another in the first half, with games also scheduled for November 17th at the AUC and December 1st back in Wolfville. Perhaps even stranger, the season series will wrap up on the first day of the second half with a tilt January 4th at the AUC.

The V-Reds have had an impressive run of success against the Axemen in recent years, especially considering Acadia is usually on of the better teams in the AUS. UNB has gone 18-1-1 in regular season play, 1-0 in exhibition games, and 6-1 in the playoffs over the previous 5 seasons against the Axemen, for an overall record of 25-2-1. This includes a 17 game winning streak - 13 regular season, 1 exhibition, 3 playoff - that spanned from November 2nd, 2007 until November 26th, 2010. UNB has currently won 17 consecutive games against Acadia at the AUC.

LAST SEASON: The V-Reds earned 7 out of a possible 8 points against the Axemen last season. On October 28th Travis Fullerton picked up the shutout in a 3-0 UNB win. On November 12th the Axemen would rally from a 4-2 second period deficit to take a 5-4 lead in the third period, only to see Bretton Stamler tie the game 27 seconds later. The two teams would go to a shootout with Acadia eventually prevailing 6-5 after Stamler and Luke Gallant missed on their attempts, while both Axemen shooters converted against goaltender Matt Davis. The two teams would meet again on January 27th in the annual "Pink in the Rink" game and Chris Culligan (4 assists) would lead UNB to a 7-1 romp. The next game, on February 3rd, was more evenly matched but the result was the same as the V-Reds emerged with a 3-2 road win.

RECENT GAMES: The Varsity Reds rebounded from a 5-2 loss against Moncton two weekends ago to record a pair of impressive road victories last weekend. They defeated Saint Mary's 4-0 on Friday night behind the impressive goaltending of Dan LaCosta (26 saves) and St. FX 4-2 on Saturday night thanks to three power play goals and a big night from Chad Denny (1 goal, 2 assists).

Acadia, who also sport a 3-1-0 record on the young season, are coming off of a very successful weekend of their own. On Friday night they spoiled St. Thomas' first game at their new rink with a dominating 7-1 win over the Tommies, in which they held a 37-13 advantage in shots. The next night they faced some stiffer competition when they traveled to Moncton to face Les Aigles Bleu. The Axemen gave up a tying goal in the third period but rebounded to win 3-2 in a shootout, with rookie Brett Thompson scoring the winner.

The Axemen split their first two games of the season. They dropped their home opener 5-4 to St. FX, despite holding a 43-14 lead in shots (including 19-0 in the final period), before rallying from a 4-1 second period deficit the next night to defeat Dalhousie in Halifax by the same 5-4 count.

Acadia went 3-3-1 during the pre-season. They opened their exhibition schedule by hosting the Don Wells Tournament, during which they lost 6-5 in OT to Carleton and 3-2 to St. FX. This was by a pair of wins the next weekend - 5-2 over Queens and 5-0 against UQTR- before suffering a 5-2 loss to Moncton. The Axemen then traveled to the United States and split a pair of games against NCAA competition (6-2 loss to RPI, 2-0 win against Quinnipiac).

WHO TO WATCH FOR ON ACADIA: The Axemen return the majority of their line-up from last season, including leading scorer and CIS player of the Year Andrew Clark (15 goals, 24 assists) and First Team All-Canadian defenceman Christopher Owens (10g, 19a). Their next 7 leading scorers are also back, led by Liam Heelis (8g, 14a), Jonathan Laberge (8g, 11a), Spencer Jezegou (8g, 9a), Michael Ward (7g, 9a), and Alex Beaton (8g, 7a). Among the 6 players who are not returning the biggest loss, points-wise, is Nicholas Chouinard (10 points). The other 5 players only accounted for 4 goals and 14 assists last year. Replacing them are a number of top recruits, with forwards Brett Thompson (32g, 38a in OHL last year) and Mike Cozzola (1.03 points per game in OHL career), swing-man Travis Randall (16 points last year in QMJHL), and defenceman Colin Archer (sat out last year, 30 points in last WHL season) being the biggest names. After a couple of years struggling to score the Axemen should have no problem finding the back of the net this season.

The Axemen also return both of their goalies from last year in Evan Mosher and Peter DiSalvo. Although Mosher played the majority of games last season (1230 minutes to 476 for DiSalvo) he has struggled in the early going this year (2 games, 5 goals on 12 shots in 33 minutes), giving DiSalvo an opportunity that he has seized for the time being, posting a 1.91 GAA and .905 save percentage in 4 games.

WHO TO WATCH FOR ON UNB: Much like last Saturday night it will be interesting to see who is in net for the V-Reds. While LaCosta played great in both of his starts last weekend Travis Fullerton has had great success against Acadia in the past, posting three shutouts and two playoff series wins against the Axemen in his career.

It will also be interesting to see how UNB fares on the olympic-sized ice surface that Acadia features. After looking slow against Moncton two weeks ago the V-Reds were much better last week, but a group of highly skilled forwards like Acadia possesses, playing with more space than the V-Reds are used to, presents a whole new challenge for UNB. While the V-Reds have adjusted well in recent years - 10-2-1 in last 13 games in Wolfville - it should be noted that 7 out of the previous 9 games have been decided by a single goal.

Cam Braes is another player to keep an eye on. After recording a goal and an assist in the season opener Braes has been held off the score sheet for the last 3 games. Expect him to get back on track, maybe as soon as this weekend, especially if Chris Culligan is back in the line-up centering the top line.

FOLLOW ALONG: The game will be web-cast here. You can also follow UNBHockey on Twitter for updates.

ELSEWHERE IN THE AUS:
St. FX at St. Thomas
Saint Mary's at Moncton
UPEI at Dalhousie

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

CIS Men's Hockey Top Ten (#3): V-Reds Back On Top

OTTAWA (CIS) – The University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds return to the No. 1 position in the third CIS men’s hockey poll of the season, thanks to a pair of road wins against top AUS opponents combined to a two-game sweep from the Saskatchewan Huskies over the Alberta Golden Bears.

The V-Reds, who had opened the campaign at No. 1 before dropping to second place behind Alberta last week, received 12 first-place votes and 160 points from the 17-member media panel in the new Top 10.

The other first-place nods went to Saskatchewan (4), which moves up two spots to a season-high No. 2 following its impressive sweep of Alberta, and to the UQTR Patriotes (1), who remain in third place for the third straight week. The Bears drop to No. 4 following the back-to-back losses to their Canada West archrivals.

Rounding out the new media poll are No. 5 St. Francis Xavier (3-1-0), up two positions; No. 6 Moncton (2-1-1), down one; No. 7 Acadia (3-1-0), unranked a week ago; No. 8 Lakehead (4-1-1), up a pair; No. 9 Calgary (4-2-0), down one spot; and No. 10 UBC (4-1-1), ranked nationally for the first time since October of 2009.

Top-ranked UNB improved to 3-1-0 in league play over the past weekend thanks to a 4-0 shutout win at Saint Mary’s and a 4-2 road victory over No. 5 StFX. The reigning AUS champions hit the road again this week for matchups against No. 7 Acadia on Friday and Dalhousie on Saturday.

In Canada West, the highly-anticipated doubleheader between Alberta (3-3-0) and Saskatchewan (5-1-0) lived up to the billing with the Huskies claiming a pair of one-goal decisions on home ice, 2-1 and 4-3. The Golden Bears outshot their rivals in both contests, 30-16 on Friday and 34-20 on Saturday, but Huskie netminder Ryan Holfeld had the last laugh on both occasions.

In the OUA, third-ranked UQTR (4-1-0) doubled Concordia 6-3 in its lone outing of the past week.
In addition to Friday’s clash between UNB and Acadia, Top-10 battles to keep an eye on this week include Saskatchewan at UBC on Friday and Saturday, as well as StFX visiting Moncton on Saturday.

CIS MEN’S HOCKEY TOP 10 (#3)

Voting is based on a 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis, with a 1st place vote worth 10 points. The CIS Men’s Ice Hockey Top Ten Committee is made up of media members from across Canada.

(regular season record) / votes (first-place votes) / (previous rankings)
1. UNB (3-1-0) / 160 points (12) / (2) 

2. Saskatchewan (5-1-0) / 154 (4) / (4)
3. UQTR (4-1-0) / 128 (1) / (3)
4. Alberta (3-3-0) / 94 / (1)
5. StFX (3-1-0) / 84 / (7)
6. Moncton (2-1-1) / 72 / (5)
7. Acadia (3-1-0) / 66 (1) / (NR)
8. Lakehead (4-1-1) / 50 / (10)
9. Calgary (4-2-0) / 45 / (8)
10. UBC (4-1-1) / 15 / (NR)

Also receiving votes: Toronto (14), Western (13), Manitoba (12), Ottawa (9), Waterloo (7), Windsor (7), Carleton (4), Regina (1).

-CIS-

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Sunday Morning Links

Some links of interest from around the inter-web on this Sunday morning:

- As some have no doubt heard the AUS will be putting a ridiculous roster cap in place next year. Every team will only be allowed to carry 21 skaters over the course of the season. There won't be a limit on the number of goaltenders. As one might expect, UNB head coach Gardiner MacDougall is not too pleased about it. Meanwhile, Chris Cochrane of the Chronicle Herald also gives his opinion on the matter here.

- The Cape Breton Post has a small blurb about Chris Culligan being named V-Reds captain. Culligan, of course, played his entire 5 year junior career for the Screaming Eagles.

- Not AUS-specific, but certainly applies to the CIS as a whole. Scott Fisher from The St. Catherine's Standard has a story about former NHL draft pick, and WHL player, J.D. Watt, who made the decision to play professional hockey and in the process forfeited all of the scholarship money he accumulated throughout his junior career. Watt argues that the one-year restriction that is placed on players in terms of deciding their future - either school or pro - should be eased.

- The Chronicle Herald has a recap of Friday night's games from around the AUS, including some quotes from former Saint Mary's Husky Colby Pridham about playing against his former team.

- Hockeyscene.com has short recaps posted for each of last night's games - UNB/St. FX, UPEI/SMU, Dalhousie/STU, and Acadia/Moncton.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Power Play Leads V-Reds Over X-Men

The University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds will come back to Fredericton with 4 points after collecting their second road victory of the weekend - a 4-2 win over the St. FX X-Men tonight in Antigonish. The loss was the X-Men's first of the young season and moved UNB into a tie for first place.

The V-Reds got off to a good start when they converted on an early power play. Chad Denny took a quick, low shot from the point that was deflected in by Nick MacNeil to the right of goalie Joey Perricone. Ben Shutron picked up the second assist on the goal. UNB doubled their lead shortly after when Thomas Nesbitt (Denny, Carroll) was at the side of the net to backhand in a bouncing puck in the crease. The X-Men responded with a power play goal of their own when Jarrod Struthers walked off the half-boards and snapped a shot that Dan LaCosta didn't even move on thanks to a screen in front. The V-Reds answered with another man advantage goal when Ben Shutron's (Colby Pridham, Nich MacNeil) shot appeared to hit something in front before settling in the back of the net. Shots in the period favoured the X-Men 10-9.

The V-Reds would run into penalty trouble in the 2nd period by taking 6 straight penalties. They managed to kill off the first three, including a full 2 minute 5-on-3, but were eventually burned on the 4th one when Michael Kirkpatrick one-timed a cross-ice pass from Brennen Wray into the net. That was the only goal of the period as the X-Men held a 7-3 advantage in shots.

Both teams seemed to come out for the third period with a little less intensity and chippyness that had been prevalent through the first 40 minutes. UNB found themselves back on the power play in the opening minutes and Denny (unassisted) unleashed a shot from outside of the X-Men blue line that somehow got by Perricone, giving the V-Reds a 4-2 lead at 3:02. St. FX would pull their goalie for the extra attacker with about 2 minutes left but neither team was able to bend the twine. Shots were 10-8 for UNB in the period, but 25-22 for the X-Men in the game.

- Chris Culligan was still out of the line-up for the V-Reds. Marc-Antoine Desnoyers was also out and was replaced in the line-up by Geordie Wudrick.

- Former X-Men Bryce Swan was targeted a number of time throughout the game, which drew three power play for UNB. X-Men defenceman Derek Claffey got caught twice, once for boarding and once for interference, while Perricone also picked up a roughing penalty after taking exception to Swan battling for the puck in his crease. The V-Reds converted on the first and last of those three man advantages.

- UNB went 3 for 6 on the power play. St. FX was 2 for 9.

- The V-Reds edged the X-Men 37-36 on face-offs. Cam Braes once again led the way with 15 wins on 26 draws.

- Nesbitt had a game high 5 shots on goal.

- Shutron, Denny, and Kirkpatrick were named the three stars of the game.

- In other AUS action tonight Dalhousie defeated St. Thomas 5-2, Acadia beat Moncton 3-2 in a shootout, and Saint Mary's rebounded with a 4-0 win of their own against UPEI.

- UNB is back in Nova Scotia next weekend when they face Acadia Friday night in Wolfville before making their way to Halifax for a tilt against Dalhousie the following night.

V-Reds Continue Road Trip Tonight

The University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds look to pick up their second road win of the weekend when they visit the St. FX X-Men at the Keating Millenium Arena. Game time is 7PM.

The Varsity Reds (2-1-0 conference record, 7-2-0 overall CIS record) fell out of the top spot in the latest CIS rankings released on Tuesday and are currently sitting in 2nd. The X-Men (3-0-0, 7-0-1), on the other hand, moved up from 9th to 7th.

A night after former Saint Mary's star Colby Pridham made a successful return to the rink he called home for four years by scoring two goals fellow transfer student Bryce Swan will play against his former team for the first time.

KEY STATS: Although they led the AUS in goals per game (4.29) and and shots per game (36.0) last season the Varsity Reds have regressed in both categories through the first three games of the season. They are averaging 3.67 goals scored per game and only 29.33 shots per game. However, their special teams have been slightly better through the first handful of games this season compared to last. The penalty killing is about even at 83.3 percent (compared to 82.9 last year) but, maybe more importantly, the power play has clicked on 4 of their first 18 opportunities, good for a 22.2 success rate after operating at only 17.6 percent last season. Although penalties have been a problem in the early going, with an average of 26.7 penalty minutes per game, the V-Reds were much more disciplined last night against SMU, accumulating only 10 minutes in penalties.  They will need to stay out of the box against an X-Men team that is very dangerous on the power play.

The X-Men were expected to improve on an impressive 2010-2011 campaign (17-10-1 conference record) last year, but things did not go according to plan. St. FX pushed the V-Reds to overtime in the 5th and deciding game of the 2011 AUS Championship, had a good showing at the University Cup (loss to McGill, win against Alberta), and returned many of their core players, but they were never able to get on track last season, finishing 10-14-4 to secure the 6th, and final, playoff berth. They were then disposed by Moncton 2 game to 1 in the first round of the playoffs.

As their record might indicate the X-Men finished near the middle to bottom of the league in most categories, such as goals per game (6th at 3.25), goals against per game (6th at 3.71), shots per game (5th at 30.46), and penalty killing (5th at 81.3). Two things they did excel at, however, was converting on the power play (1st at 22.3) and staying out of the penalty box (2nd at 18.32 penalty minutes per game). Through three games this year they scored more goals (4.33 per game), given up fewer goals (3.0 per game), and lead the league by taking only 12.67 penalty minutes per game. They are also one of the better teams in terms of shooting percentage (2nd at 17.1 percent) and save percentage (2nd at 91.6) thus far. Their special teams could stand to improve though, placing 6th in both power play percentage (15.4) and penalty killing percentage (76.9). 

HEAD TO HEAD: This is the first meeting of the season between the two team. The X-Men will visit the AUC on November 2nd and January 26th. The V-Reds will return on January 11th. All games are scheduled for 7PM.

Perhaps no AUS team has given UNB more trouble in recent years than the X-Men. Since the 2008-2009 season the Varsity Reds have a 12-3-1 record against St. FX in the regular season, but have won only 3 out of the 8 playoff games between the two in that span. Of course, we are sure no one forgets the X-Men putting an end to UNB's 27 game winning streak in 2009-2010 as well the shocking playoff sweep that followed weeks later.

LAST SEASON: The Varsity Reds received 7 out of a possible 8 points against the X-Men last year. In the first game of the season on October 14th UNB raised their 4th National Championship banner and followed that up with a solid 3-1 victory at the AUC. A week later the two teams met in Antigonish, with the V-Reds falling behind 3-1 in the first period only to storm back and win 7-6. UNB would win their third straight over the X-Men, 5-2, on January 6 at the AUC only for St. FX to reply with a 5-4 shootout victory on home ice eight days later.

RECENT GAMES: The V-Reds are coming off of their best game of the young season as they shutout the Saint Mary's Huskies 4-0 in Halifax last night. Dan LaCosta stopped 26 shots and Colby Pridham scored 2 goals against his former team as the Varsity Reds pulled away with 3 goals in the final 10 minutes of the game. This came on the heels of an up and down opening weekend on home ice. They extended their winning streak against STU with a 5-2 win on opening night only to turn around the next night and get out-skated and outplayed by Moncton, losing by an identical 5-2 score.

Meanwhile, the X-Men are the only AUS team yet to suffer a loss after beating the previously unbeaten UPEI Panthers last night at home. The Panthers tied the game at 2 with only 7 seconds left in regulation but Brad Cuzner's goal 2:44 into the extra session sent the hometown crowd home happy. Last weekend seen St. FX hold on for a 5-4 victory on the road against Acadia on opening night, despite being out-shot 43-19 (including 19-0 in the final period) and then beat Saint Mary`s 5-3 the next evening in their first home game of the season.

During pre-season play the X-Men posted a 5-1-1 record. They fell 2-1 in overtime against SMU in their first game only to rebound with wins over Acadia, Moncton, UPEI, and St. Thomas. They then split two games against NCAA teams - losing 5-2 to New Hampshire and then topping Northeastern 4-3.

WHO TO WATCH FOR ON ST. FX: The X-Men return their top two scorers from last season in Jason Bast (16 goals, 14 assists) and AUS Rookie of the Year Michael Kirkpatrick (15g, 15a), but lost their 3rd (Bryce Swan, 25 points), 4th (Brett Morrison (23), 5th (Kevin Undershute, 18), and 7th (Scott Brannon (14) highest point-getters. Despite these losses St. FX has tallied 13 goals in their first three games with rookies Cory McIntosh and Cole Grbavac leading the charge with three and two goals apiece, respectively. Veteran forward Brennan Wray (3 points after only 10 last year) and defenceman Derek Claffey (2 points this year, 5 last year), as well as sophomore Ted Stephens (2 points after 5 this year) have also got out to good starts this year. Spencer MacAvoy (3g, 14a last season), one of the top defencemen in the conference, is also back to anchor a defensive corps that returns all but one player from last year. They have also added another potential top pairing blue-liner over the summer with Bronson Maschmeyer joining the team after three consecutive seasons of 35+ points with Kamloops of the WHL. He has already notched a goal and assist thus far. Expect him to see plenty of time on the power play. Goaltender Joey Perricone is back between the pipes and will look for a return to his 2010-2011 form, in which he posted a 2.37 GAA and 0.925 save percentage. If he struggles like he did for most of last season (3.57, 0.874) expect to see rookie Drew Owsley, who put up solid numbers the last 4 years in the WHL, get a lot of playing time. So far Perricone has started 2 of the first 3 games, giving up only 5 goals on 64 shots in the process.

WHO TO WATCH FOR ON UNB: It will no doubt be an emotional night for Bryce Swan. The St. FX graduate, who scored 107 points over the previous 4 seasons with the X-Men, will be playing against his former team for the first time. It will be interesting to see the reception he receives from the crowd, especially considering he now plays for one of St. FX's bigger rivals.

The V-Reds got a great start from Dan LaCosta last night so it will be interesting to see if he is back between the pipes against the X-Men. It has been a long time since Travis Fullerton has sat on the bench for two consecutive games, but the coaching staff may want to ride the hot hand. The defence, which was exposed against a speedy Aigles Bleus squad last week, had some adventures in the first two periods last night as the Huskies hemmed them in the defensive zone for extended stretches at time as well as forcing some turnovers, but fortunately LaCosta was there when called upon to bail them out. They did put together a good final period, really clamping down and limiting SMU`s shots and scoring chances to preserve the shutout. The challenge may be tougher tonight against an arguably more talented X-Men squad.  

FOLLOW ALONG: The game will be web-cast on SSN. You can also check UNBHockey on Twitter for updates.

ELSWHERE IN THE AUS:
Dalhousie at St. Thomas
Acadia at Moncton
UPEI at Saint Mary's