Monday, February 25, 2013

V-Reds Rebound, Take Series Lead

The University of New Brunswick responded in a big way to one of their worst games in recent memory with a 7-2 victory over the UPEI Panthers tonight in Charlottetown. The V-Reds now lead the best-of-5 semi-final series 2 games to 1 with game 4 scheduled for tomorrow night.

Much like game 1 this contest was close through the first two periods before UNB pulled away in the 3rd period. The Varsity Reds opened the scoring at 11:32 of the first period on the power play when Chris Culligan completed a nice passing play with Cam Braes and Tyler Carroll. However, the Panthers responded exactly three minutes later with a power play goal of their own courtesy Matthew Brenton. The team headed into the intermission tied at one with UNB holding the edge in shots 11-7.

The V-Reds re-took the lead 7:00 into the second period when Bryce Swan (MacNeil) pounced on a loose puck in the crease and slid it past Panthers goalie Mavric Parks. Shortly after taking the lead the Varsity Reds got into penalty trouble, an all-too-common occurrence this season, as they were called for three straight infractions. After failing to score on the first two power plays the Panthers finally took advantage when Jordan Knox converted after a fortunate bounce put the puck right on his stick as he was streaking towards the UNB goal. He put the puck five-hole through Dan LaCosta, tying the game at two. The V-Reds quickly squashed any momentum the Panthers may have gained from the goal as Cam Braes gave UNB a 3-2 lead only 45 seconds later after a nifty play and pass from Daine Todd at the blue-line. The Panthers would receive their 4th straight power play of the period at 18:38 but it was Chris Culligan who sprung Ben Shutron down the left side for a back-breaking shorthanded goal 19:26, giving UNB a 4-2 lead after 40 minutes. Shots in the period favoured UNB 11-9.

The first half of the 3rd period was fairly uneventful as UNB was content with getting the puck deep in UPEI territory and running time off the clock. The V-Reds would add to their lead after a great shift in the Panthers zone led to a power play. On the ensuing man advantage Braes took the puck from Culligan behind the net and quickly found Tyler Carroll skating into the slot, who wasted no time in wristing one past Parks at 15:04. Things would quickly deteriorate as tempers and frustration started to boil over at 15:51, leading to two 10-minute misconducts for each team. The V-Reds would put the finishing touches on the victory with a pair of goals in the final two minutes. First, Braes (Wright, Nesbitt) notched his 2nd of the game at 18:08 into an empty net and then, after another scuffle put UNB on the power play, Stefan Salituro (Kidd) rounded out the scoring at 19:54. Shots in the period were 13-8 for UNB, who held a 35-24 advantage for the game.

- Cameron Critchlow served his one game suspension for picking up a 5 minute major penalty in game 2. Antoine Houde-Caron took his spot in the top-9 while Salituro played alongside Fillier and MacDougall on the 4th line. Dion Campbell returned after missing game 2 but took a hard hit midway through the game and did not appear to return. Tim Priamo and Chad Denny both remained out.

- UNB was 3 for 6 on the power play. UPEI was 2 for 6.

- The Panthers have still not scored an even strength goal in the series. Of their 8 goals 6 have been scored on the power play while the other 2 have been scored shorthanded.

- Attendance was 1694 at MacLauchlan Arena.

- The winner of this series will meet the Saint Mary's Huskies in the AUS Finals. The Huskies eliminated the Acadia Axemen with a 1-0 victory on Sunday night, winning the series 3 game to 1. By virtue of making the AUS Finals the Huskies have already secured a berth at next month's University Cup in Saskatoon, with the winner of the UNB/UPEI series also gaining a spot.

- In other CIS playoff action the Alberta Golden Bears and Saskatchewan Huskies will battle in the Canada West Finals, with both teams guaranteed a spot at the University Cup. Meanwhile, in the OUA Windsor and Waterloo will meet in the West Finals while UQTR and Carleton will play each other in the East Finals, with both winners advancing to the University Cup.