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.