Friday, January 24, 2014

Role Reversal For Shorthanded V-Reds

It was a game that was reminiscent of Tuesday night's contest against the University of Maine, only this time the University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds were the team coming out on top. The V-Reds - playing with only 19 skaters - fell behind 3-0 against the visiting St. Thomas Tommies, but rallied for a 6-4 win in the annual Mark Jeffrey Memorial Game tonight at the AUC. With the victory UNB moves to 17-3-1 on the season and remain tied for the top spot in the conference with the Acadia Axemen.

To say the game never got off to a great start for UNB would be an understatement. The V-Reds spent the majority of the first shift or two of the game in the St. Thomas zone, but it was Matthew Bissonnette scoring on the Tommies first shot at 1:57. They doubled their lead only 1 minute and 52 seconds later on the power play when Bissonnette redirected a centering pass past Charles Lavigne. There would be no more scoring in the period as UNB outshot STU 12-6.

Joel Vienneau replaced Lavigne in goal to begin the 2nd period, but the change did not pay immediate dividends as Stephen Sanza beat him on the first shot he seen, just 59 seconds into the period. The Varsity Reds responded only 1 minute later as Phillippe Maillet (Culligan, Critchlow) took advantage of a bit of a lucky bounce as a missed shot hit the boards behind the net and ricocheted out to the side of the goal, which Maillet was able to poke in before Tommies goalie Jonathan Groenheyde could slide across. UNB was able to cut the lead to 3-2 at 15:44 while shorthanded when former junior teammates Maillet and Phillippe Halley broke in on a 2-on-1. Halley converted the cross-ice pass to make it a one goal game. Unfortunately, the excitement was short-live as Sanza notched his 2nd of the game only 21 seconds later on the power play. The Varsity Reds would answer again, though. Chris Culligan (Maillet, MacNeil) finished off some nice passing while on the power play (and a delayed penalty) at 17:51 to get UNB back within a goal heading into the 3rd period. Shots in the period favoured UNB 10-5.

Quite simply, the 3rd period was all UNB. The V-Reds out-shot the Tommies 16-1, but despite a number of high quality chances - including a shot off the post - they were not able to find the equalizer until a quick snap-shot from the blue line by Jordan Murray (Maillet) on the power play beat a screened Groenheyde at 12:49. The Varsity Reds kept the pressure on and took their first lead of the game at 15:57 when Tim Priamo intercepted the puck just as he stepped out of the penalty box and fed Marc-Antoine Desnoyers. Desnoyers carried the puck wide into the offensive zone on a 2-on-2 and found a trailing Cam Braes in the high-slot, who wasted no time in ripping a wrist shot into the net for a 5-4 lead. Dylan Willick would close out the scoring with his first career CIS goal into an empty net with 80 seconds left. Shots in the game were 38-12 for UNB.

- Tyler Carroll, Taylor MacDougall, and Shea Kewin were all out of the line-up. Despite playing a man short J.P. Labardo was also out of the line-up, which might confirm the recent speculation that he is no longer with the team.

- As a result of playing with only 10 forwards, defenceman Tim Priamo took even-strength shifts as a winger.

- Nick MacNeil was this year's recipient of the Mark Jeffrey Award.

- UNB has now won 11 consecutive Mark Jeffrey Memorial Games. They are 16-5-1 all-time.

- Maillet, Braes, and Sanza were the three stars.

- UNB was 2 for 9 on the power play. STU was 2 for 6.

- UNB won 37 out of 60 face-offs.

- Elsewhere around the AUS: Saint Mary's rallied from a 3-0 deficit of their own to pick up a big 4-3 shootout win on the road against St. FX, Acadia crushed Dalhousie 7-2 in Halifax, and UPEI squeaked out a 2-1 home win over Moncton.

- Tomorrow night sees UNB hit the road for a tilt in Charlottetown against the Panthers, Moncton visit St. Thomas, and St. FX travel to Wolfville to face Acadia. All games are scheduled for a 7PM puck drop.