Friday, November 1, 2013

Battle Of The Hill Comes Down To Wire

It was not easy for the University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds Friday night against the St. Thomas Tommies at the Grant*Harvey Centre, but when the final buzzer sounded the result was the same as the previous 35 meetings, a V-Reds victory, with the final score being 3-2 on this night. With the win the Varsity Reds run their record to 5-0-0 while the Tommies fall to 2-3-0.

- The game began with an all-too familiar script for the Tommies and their fans as the Varsity Reds jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead, scoring two goals on their first three shots. J.P. Labardo (Willick, Shutron) got the scoring started only 1:26 into the contest on a bad angle shot that somehow got past Tommies goaltender Alex St. Arnaud. It was Labardo's first career CIS goal. Two and a half minutes later Nick MacNeil received a long pass from Thomas Nesbitt, raced in on a partial breakaway, and sniped one that came out of the net just as quick as went in. However, despite trailing by a pair of goals early on it was increasingly apparent that this was a different Tommies team than what we have seen in recent years. Whereas most years a quick 2-0 deficit would deflate them and send them well on their way to a blowout loss this year's version of the Tommies kept fighting, stayed disciplined by not trying to play UNB's game, stuck to their system, and generated some sustained pressure and a number of scoring chances as they attempted to get back into the game. Although the score remained 2-0 after the first period the shots were 16-10 for UNB. To put those 10 shots for STU in perspective, consider last year when they had 19, 7, 9 and 10 shots for the entire GAME in their four meetings against the Varsity Reds.

- The 2nd period was much of the same as UNB out-shot STU 15-10, but it was Colin Martin of the Tommies scoring the only goal of the frame when a bouncing puck eluded Charles Lavigne, cutting the score to 2-1.

- The Varsity Reds continued to control the majority of play in the 3rd period, but not quite to the extent we have become accustomed to in prior years when UNB would typically put the game away over the final 20 minutes. The Tommies continued to hang around as St. Arnaud kept his team in the game, stopping over 40 straight shots at one point. The V-Reds would finally add some insurance with 3:22 left in the game on a bit of a controversial play. A UNB defender shot the puck down the ice and it appeared icing was about to be called, however the play was never whistled down and MacNeil stole the puck from a Tommies defenceman behind the net and scored his 2nd of the night on a wraparound on his backhand. Once again though St. Thomas never quit and, with their goalie pulled, they would get back within a goal when the puck took a couple ricochets in front of the UNB net and got by Lavigne at 19:12. The Tommies never really threatened to tie the game as the V-Reds kept the puck out of their zone for the majority of the remaining 42 seconds, securing their 36th consecutive victory over their cross-campus rivals. A big hit by Cameron Critchlow just after he came off of the bench on an unsuspecting Tommie led to a scrum just as time had expired, giving some fuel to the next meeting between the two teams in 19 days. Shots favoured UNB 17-7 in the period and 48-27 in the game.

- Tyler Carroll and Antoine Houde-Caron remained out of the line-up. Keevin Cutting replaced Tim Priamo on defence.

- The 27 shots STU had tonight were the most they have had in a game against UNB since getting 30 in a 7-1 loss on October 16th, 2010 - 12 games ago.

- UNB was 0 for 4 on the power play. STU did not score on their only opportunity.

- UNB won 45 out of 75 face-offs. Chris Culligan went 16 out 24 and Taylor MacDougall went 10 out of 16.

- St. Arnaud, MacNeil, and Martin were named the game's three stars.

- UNB hit the cross-bar three times in the game.

- Attendance was 1621. 

- In other AUS action tonight Acadia picked up a 2-1 home win over Saint Marys, St. FX worked overtime to beat Dalhousie 5-4 in Antigonish, and the UPEI/Moncton game was postponed.

 - The Varsity Reds are back at the AUC tomorrow night when they welcome the 2-2-0 Universite de Moncton Aigles Bleus to town. Game time is 7PM.