Friday, January 17, 2014

V-Reds Pick Up Big Victory

UPDATE: The UNB Athletics web-site has their game recap posted.

The University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds came up with an important 5-3 victory over the 1st place Acadia Axemen tonight before a sold-out crowd - many of whom were elementary school students taking part of Southside Elementary School Night - and a playoff-like atmosphere at the AUC. With the win the V-Reds improve to 15-3-1 on the season, only a single point behind the 15-2-2 Axemen with 9 games left in the regular season.

It was a back and forth game all night as both teams traded goals in both the first and second periods. The Varsity Reds struck first when Philippe Maillet's (Culligan) backhand shot fooled Axemen goalie Evan Mosher at 16:56 only to see Acadia answer only 2:17 later courtesy of the conference's most productive trio. Mike Cozzola (Heelis, Thompson) jumped on a loose puck during a goal-mouth scramble and deposited it behind Charles Lavigne at 19:13. The V-Reds held a slight 8-7 advantage in shots.

The Axemen took their first lead of the game 3:02 into the middle frame as Tyler Ferry (Trask, Archer) slid the puck in after it had appeared Lavigne had been interfered with. However, it would only 63 seconds for the Varsity Reds to tie it up when Thomas Nesbitt (Cutting, MacNeil) made up for missing on a glorious chance earlier in the period when he snapped the puck in from the slot. UNB once again held a slight edge in shots - 10-9 - as the teams would head to the 3rd period tied 2-2.

Acadia regained the lead 6:01 into the period when Heelis (Thompson), the league leader in goals, got his 2nd of the game after some sloppy play by the V-Reds in their own end. Once again though, Thomas Nesbitt (Desnoyers, Braes) quickly replied for UNB to tie the game, firing a shot from near the goal line up and over a sprawled out Mosher only 14 seconds after Acadia scored. The V-Reds starting to gain momentum and carry the play and were rewarded at 9:48 when Marc-Antoine Desnoyers stepped up to knock down a break-out pass near the Axemen blue-line and went in on a breakaway. Mosher stopped the original shot but in doing so he was out of position for the rebound, which Cam Critchlow collected in the crease and easily tapped into the wide open net. Chris Culligan added some insurance at 11:01 with an unassisted shorthanded goal. He took advantage of a bouncing puck that hopped over an Acadia stick near his own blue-line and broke in on a 2-on-1. He elected to shoot and picked the top corner to make it 5-3. That's how it would end as Acadia out-shot UNB 13-12 in the period. Shots in the game were 3-29 in favour of the V-Reds.

- Dylan Willick replaced Tim Priamo in the line-up. Tyler Carroll and J.P. Labardo remained out.

- Both teams were 0 for 3 on the power play.

- UNB won 35 out of 57 face-offs. Taylor MacDougall (9-2), Dylan Willick (7-4), and Chris Culligan (8-4) led the way. Cam Braes (8-12) had a rare off-night.

- Nesbitt, Culligan, and Heelis were named the game's three stars.

- Culligan's goal was his 50th career regular season tally.

- The Varsity Reds officially clinched a playoff spot tonight. They are now 19 points ahead of 7th place St. Thomas with 9 games remaining. 

- These two teams will meet again in the last regular season game of the season on February 15th in Wolfville.

- In other AUS action tonight: Moncton handled Dalhousie 5-1 at home, UPEI got a 3-0 road win over St. FX, and Saint Mary's picked up a crucial 4-0 win over St. Thomas in Halifax.

- The Varsity Reds are back at the AUC tomorrow night when they host the Dalhousie Tigers. Game time is 7PM.