Thursday, March 22, 2012

NATIONALS GAME #2 - UNB VS. UQTR

Number 6 hosts number 1 – The second game of the 2012 edition of the Cavendish University Cup is scheduled for 7PM on Thursday evening at the Aitken University Centre, with the OUA bronze medalists and CIS #7 ranked UQTR Patriotes facing off against the hometown AUS Champion and CIS #1 ranked UNB Varsity Reds. The V-Reds will be the designated road team for the game. UQTR went 19 – 7 – 2 in the OUA East this season, finishing 6 points behind McGill and in 2nd place for the 2nd straight year. The Patriotes were in and out of the CIS top ten rankings all season, spending 12 out of 18 weeks in the polls. They achieved their highest ranking of the season in the 2nd poll of the season in late October, reaching 6th place. The Varsity Reds overcame a rash of injuries to finish the season on top of the AUS for the 5th straight season with a 20 – 5 – 3 record in conference play. It also marked the 5th straight year UNB has won at least 20 games. They held the top spot in the CIS rankings 15 times, were 2nd twice, and 3rd once.

Playoffs – UQTR earned a spot at the University Cup by battling back from an opening game 9-2 loss to knock off Ryerson in three games in the first round of the OUA playoffs and then defeating Carleton in double overtime in the third and deciding game of the OUA quarter-finals. The Patriotes were then swept in 2 straight games against top-ranked McGill in the conference semi-finals but because the OUA has three berths at this year’s tournament they faced the other semi-final loser – Windsor – in a one game showdown for the OUA bronze medal and a berth at Nationals. The Patriotes took advantage of their second chance, racing out to a 5-1 lead against the Lancers before holding on for a 5-3 win.

As the tournament host UNB was already guaranteed a spot at the University Cup but they are going in as AUS Champions after posting a perfect 6-0 record in the playoffs. The Varsity Reds received a first round bye by virtue of finishing in the top two in the regular season. In the semi-finals UNB got a measure of revenge on a UPEI Panthers team that had won 3 of the 4 regular season meetings between the two teams by sweeping them in three straight. UNB then swept aside the Universite de Moncton Aigle Bleus in the best-of-5 AUS Finals. They outscored their opponents 28-11 in the postseason.

University Cup – UQTR returns to the University Cup after a one year absence. In the 2010 event in Thunder Bay, Ontario the Patriotes were defeated 4-2 by Alberta in their first game and 7-2 by the host Lakehead Thunderwolves in their second. Overall, though, UQTR has been very successful at Nationals. They are making their 17th appearance at the University Cup since the 1983-1984 season and have played in 6 National Championship games during that span, winning CIS Gold on 4 occasions (1987 in Edmonton, 1991 in Toronto, 2001 in Kitchener, and 2003 in Fredericton). UQTR has an all-time record of 19-16 at the University Cup.

UNB will be making their 2nd consecutive appearance and 5th in the last 6 years at the tournament. Last season UNB won their 3rd University Cup in the last 5 years by defeating Calgary 2-1, Western 4-0 in the semi-finals, and McGill 4-0 in the National Championship game. This will be the Varsity Reds 12th appearance all-time at the tournament and they have made the finals in each of their previous 5 appearances. Overall they have won 4 CIS Gold medals (1998 in Saskatoon, 2007 in Moncton, 2009 in Thunder Bay, and 2011 in Fredericton) and 4 CIS Silver Medals (1997, 2000, 2004, and 2008). UNB has an all-time record 21-9 at the University Cup, including a 14-4 mark under current head coach Gardiner MacDougall. Their 0.700 winning percentage all-time is the 2nd best all-time among teams who have been in more than one tournament, trailing only the University of Toronto.

Here is a snapshot of the two team’s records at Nationals (NOT including this year):

Team

GP

W

L

GF

GA

PCT

Appear.

Gold

Silver

First App.

Last App.

UQTR

35

19

16

128

141

0.543

16

4

2

83-84

09-10

UNB

30

21

9

115

83

0.700

11

4

4

63-64

10-11



Last Meeting – The last meeting between these two teams was earlier this season in an exhibition game held in Woodstock, New Brunswick on September 29th. UNB won that game 3-2 and held a 36-25 advantage in shots on goal. Nick Macneil, Luke Lynes, and Thomas Nesbitt all scored for the Varsity Reds.

The last time UNB and UQTR met at the University Cup was in the 2007 semi-finals in Moncton. UNB rolled to a 6-0 victory that afternoon and would go on to win their 2nd National Championship in school history the next night. The only other meeting at Nationals between these two was in the 2003 semi-finals in Fredericton. UNB raced out to a 3-1 lead but the Patriotes stormed back to score three unanswered goals to win 4-3. UQTR captured their 4th National Championship the next night. This is the only time UQTR has ever defeated UNB as the Varsity Reds hold an all-time record of 8-1-1 against the Patriotes. All of the games, with the exception of the 2007 Nationals game in Moncton and 2011 exhibition game in Woodstock have been played at the Aitken Centre.

Head-to-Head – These two teams feature the highest scoring offences in the country as UQTR led the nation with 127 goals and UNB finished second with 120. However, UQTR struggled defensively this season as they gave up 97 goals (21st in the CIS), 30.4 shots per game, and only managed a 0.886 save percentage (t-21st). UNB, by comparison, gave up 68 goals (4th) and surrendered by far the fewest shots in the country (22.5 per game). The Patriotes have also had problems with penalties this season as they were near the bottom of the CIS in both penalty minutes per game and penalty killing percentage. This could bode well for a Varsity Reds power play that, while inconsistent during the regular season, was very good in the playoffs (25.6%). UQTR’s strength is their power play, which connected for the second most goals in the country (36) and at the 6th best percentage (21.1). This may be nullified slightly, however, by a Varsity Reds team that scored a CIS-high 12 shorthanded goals this season. Below are the regular season statistics and CIS rankings for both teams.


#6 UQTR

#1 UNB

OVERALL RECORD

19 – 7 – 2 (7th CIS)

20 – 5 – 3 (t-3rd CIS)

HOME RECORD

9 – 4 – 1

12 – 2 – 0

AWAY RECORD

10 – 3 – 1

8 – 3 – 3

FIRST HALF

10 – 4 – 0

11 – 2 – 1

SECOND HALF

9 – 3 – 2

9 – 3 – 2

RECORD VS. CIS TEAMS

27 – 14 – 2

32 – 5 – 3

PLAYOFF RECORD

5 – 4

6 – 0

PLAYOFF RESULT

OUA Bronze

AUS Champions

FINAL CIS RANKING

7th

1st

BEST CIS RANKING

6th (1 time)

1st (15 times)

WEEKS IN TOP TEN

12 (out of 18)

18 (out of 18)

GOALS SCORED

127 (1st)

120 (2nd)

GOALS SCORED/GAME

4.54 (1st)

4.29 (2nd)

GOALS AGAINST

97 (21st)

68 (4th)

GOALS AGAINST/GAME

3.40 (21st)

2.38 (4th)

GOAL DIFFERENTIAL

+29 (8th)

+49 (1st)

SHOTS/GAME

31.8 (17th)

36.0 (3rd)

PP GOALS SCORED

36 (2nd)

25 (17th)

PP OPPORTUNITIES

171 (2nd)

142 (18th)

OVERALL PP %

21.1 (6th)

17.6 (t-18th)

PP GOALS ALLOWED

32 (t-29th)

27 (20th)

TIMES SHORTHANDED

156 (t-26th)

156 (t-26th)

OVERALL PK %

79.5 (27th)

82.7 (18th)

SH GOALS FOR

3 (t-19th)

12 (t-1st)

SAVES

756 (15th)

561 (1st)

SAVE %

88.6 (27th)

89.2 (t-21st)

PENALTY MINUTES/GAME

25.8 (33rd)

18.9 (13th)



Who to Watch for on UQTR – The Patriotes feature 11 rookies in their line-up and are led offensively by OUA East first team all-star Felix Petit, who finished 4th in the country in scoring with 42 points. Forwards Pierre-Alexandre Joncas (32 points), Jean-Sebastien Breton (31), and Alexandre Demers (30) all averaged over a point per game and will be counted on to provide offence. These four accounted for almost half of UQTR’s 36 power play goals. Rookie Charles Bety (21 points) was among three other players who averaged over 0.75 points per game. Olivier Donovan led the team in playoff scoring with 12 points, after scoring 17 in conference play. On defence OUA East first team all-star Pierre-Luc Lessard (26) and Emmanual Boudreau (20) carry almost the entire load offensively as no other blue-liner had more than 8 points. Lessard added 10 points in the playoffs. Overall, UQTR had 14 players reach double digits in points this season. Goaltender Guillaume Nadeau played in 25 out of 28 regular season games and all 9 playoff games for the Patriotes. The heavy workload may have effected Nadeau as he seen his GAA and save percentage of 3.18 and 0.892, respectively, in the regular season increase to 3.76 and 0.883 in the playoffs.

Who to Watch for on UNB – The experienced Varsity Reds feature 18 players who have won a National Championship and 8 players who will be appearing in their 3rd University Cup. The team’s strength offensively is their depth as 7 players accumulated more than 20 points this season, led by 5th year captain and AUS second team all-star Kyle Bailey (33 points) and Chris Culligan (30 points in 24 games). Culligan led all AUS players in playoff scoring with 13 points in only 6 games while Bailey was second on the team with 8 postseason points. They have also received big contributions from first year players as well, most notably AUS all-rookie team member Tyler Carroll (15 goals, 26 points), and Thomas Nesbitt (21 points). On defence UNB may be the most dangerous team in the nation at generating offense from their back-end as AUS first team all-star Jonathan Harty (27 points), 2011 Nationals MVP Luke Gallant (26), and AUS second team all-star Bretton Stamler (20) ranked 2nd-4th among all AUS defencemen in scoring. Despite battling multiple injuries mid-season goaltender Travis Fullerton finished the regular season with an 11-0-1 record, 1.67 GAA, and 0.909 save percentage in 13 games. He continued his strong play in the playoffs, going 6-0 with a 1.82 GAA and 0.917 save percentage, and notching a shutout in the series clinching game in the AUS Finals. He has thrived in 6 previous games at the University Cup, surrendering only 7 goals.

Follow Along – All tournament games will be webcast at ssncanada.ca, audiocast at chsrfm.ca, and broadcast on CHSR-FM (97.9). David Kilfoil and Christopher Cameron will be hosting a live blog at www.cisblog.ca for every game as well as tweeting during the games (use the #UCup hash tag). UNBHockey on Twitter will also have updates as the game progresses. All OUA games will have live stats at http://www.leaguestat.com/oua/MEN/en/stats/schedule.php

GAME DAY SNAPSHOT
UQTR – Regular Season/Playoffs

(19-7-2 /40 pts, 2nd OUA East, 7th CIS)/(5-4 in playoffs, OUA Bronze)
#17-F- Felix Petit (18-24-42 in 28 games)/(3-5-8 in 9 games)
#76-F- Pierre-Alexandre Joncas (12-20-32 in 28 games)/(4-5-9 in 7 games)
#19-F- Jean-Sebastien Breton (12-19-31 in 28 games)/(2-4-6 in 9 games)
#25-F- Alexandre Demers (8-22-30 in 25 games)/(0-0-0 in 3 games)
#16-D- Pierre-Luc Lessard (9-17-26 in 24 games)/(2-8-10 in 9 games)
#57-G- Guillaume Nadeau (16-8-0, 3.18, 0.892 in 25 games)/(5-4, 3.76, 0.883 in 9 games)

UNB – Regular Season/Playoffs

(20-5-3/43 points, 1st AUS, 1st CIS)/(6-0 playoffs, AUS Champion)
#32-F- Kyle Bailey (16-17-33 in 27 games)/(5-3-8 in 6 games)
#57-F- Chris Culligan (8-22-30 in 24 games)/(2-11-13 in 6 games)
#40-D- Jonathan Harty (7-20-27 in 26 games)/(2-4-6 in 6 games)
#26-F- Tyler Carroll (15-11-26 in 27 games)/(2-1-3 in 5 games)
#4-D- Luke Gallant (5-21-26 in 27 games)/(2-2-4 in 3 games)
#1-G- Travis Fullerton (11-0-1, 1.67, 0.909 in 13 games)/(6-0, 1.82, 0.917 in 6 games)

Special Teams – Regular Season/Playoffs
UQTR PP – 36 for 171 (21.1%)/9 for 52 (17.3%)
UNB PP– 25 for 142 (17.6%)/10 for 39 (25.6%)
UQTR PK – 124 for 156 (79.5%)/45 for 59 (76.3%)
UNB PK – 129 for 156 (82.7%)/28 for 34 (82.4%)