Saturday, March 24, 2012

Season Ends For V-Reds With Loss To Mustangs

After ending the Western Mustangs season in two of the last three years it just wasn't meant to be for the hometown tournament favourite University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds this afternoon at the AUC. The Mustangs accomplished something that no OUA team has in 9 years and that was beating UNB on home ice, coming away with a 3-2 victory that moves them on to the championship game tomorrow evening against the McGill Redmen. It also marks the first time Western has ever defeated the V-Reds.

The Mustangs jumped out to a 3-0 lead after the first period as they received goals from Domenic DeSando at 12:25, a 5-on-3 power play goal by Keaton Turkiewicz, and a shorthanded goal by Jason Furlong. UNB goalie Travis Fullerton didn't give up anything the rest of the way and stopped a number of high quality chances by the Mustangs as the Varsity Reds started taking more chances in hopes of generating some offense.

Western held onto the three goal lead until the third period when UNB would battle back like we have seen them do so many times over recent years. The Varsity Reds finally got on the board on the power play at 12:33 of the period when Kyle Bailey got the puck in the slot, had his stick break on the shot attempt, but got a fortuitous bounce as the puck went right to Jonathan Harty at the side of the net who flipped it past Josh Unice. UNB would bring the sold-out crowd to its feet once again just under four minutes later with another power play marker when Bailey finished a nice passing play by Tyler Carroll and Chris Culligan, taking the puck in almost the exact same spot as earlier and slapping it into the empty cage. The Varsity Reds pulled Fullerton with over a minute to go and had a number of great chances in the dying moments but were unable to get the equalizer past Unice, who was spectacular in the Mustangs goal, stopping 18 shots in the period and 36 in the game.

- Shots favoured UNB 38-24.

- UNB went 38-25 in the face-off circle.

- Players of the game were Unice for Western and Bailey for UNB.

- Thomas Nesbitt and Ben Wright were back in the line-up, replacing Stefan Salituro and Spencer Corcoran.

- The loss snaps UNB's 7 game winning streak at the University Cup. Their last loss was to Alberta in the 2008 championship game.

- This is the first time in their last six trips to the University Cup they will fail to reach the finals. They won gold in 2007, 2009, and 2011. They were the runner-up in 2004 and 2008.

- The loss was also only UNB's 4th at the AUC in their last 48 games against CIS teams over the past two seasons. They are 26-2 in the regular season, 8-1 in the playoffs, 4-1 at Nationals, and 6-0 in exhibition games during that span.

- So while the season ends two wins shy of the ultimate goal the Varsity Reds still gave us a great season that was successful in many other respects. They won 20 games and finished atop the AUS regular season standings for the 5th straight year as well as won the AUS Championship, which should not be discounted as it is certainly not an easy task. There are many positives that came out of the season that the team can build off of going forward.

- Although their university careers end on a bittersweet note 5th year seniors Kyle Bailey and Luke Gallant can take some solace in the fact that they were a big part of arguably the greatest 5 year stretch in UNB hockey history. They both end their careers with 2 CIS Gold Medals, 3 AUS titles, and 5 regular season titles (including the two greatest regular seasons in AUS history). It has been a pleasure watching them the last 5 years and it will be almost impossible to replace two of the greatest players to have ever worn the red, white, and black. We wish both of them well in their future endeavors.