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.