Saturday, February 1, 2014

V-Reds Take High-Scoring Affair

The University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds used a big 2nd period to get past the visiting Saint Mary's Huskies 6-5 in a wide-open game tonight at the AUC. The V-Reds 9th straight win not only improves their record to 20-3-1 on the season - the 7th consecutive year they have reached the 20 win plateau - but also clinches a first round bye in AUS playoffs. They maintain their 2 point advantage over the Acadia Axemen for top spot in the conference.

- UNB got out to a great start in this one, a stark contrast to the previous couple of games. Philippe Halley (Willick, Thomas) picked up where he left off from last night when he beat Huskies goalie Anthony Peters at 3:52 and then Matt Petgrave (Culligan, Maillet) jumped into the rush, streaked down the left side, and swiped a cross-ice pass into the net only 45 seconds later. However, instead of packing it in, the Huskies responded in a big way as they scored goals at 6:54 (Tanaka), 9:34 (Bloodoff), 10:48 (Grant), and 18:41 (D'Orazio). They would take a 4-2 lead into the break, having out-shot the home side 13-12 in the period.

- The V-Reds pulled back within a goal just 3:36 into the 2nd period when Nick MacNeil (Braes, Cutting) was able to poke-check a loose puck in while on a delayed penalty. They were able to draw even just over 6 minutes later when Philippe Maillet (Culligan, Halley) got a step on the defenceman, received a pass on the tape, and beat Peters 5-hole on a semi-breakaway. The Varsity Reds would then take the lead and add some insurance on two of the strangest plays you will ever see. First, Halley (Maillet, Culligan) deked around Peters and was just about to backhand the puck into a wide-open net when a SMU player deliberately knocked the net of its moorings before the puck crossed the line. The referee signaled goal on the play, giving UNB a 5-4 lead at 11:19. Then, at 13:56, Cameron Critchlow was hooked while on a breakaway and Taylor MacDougall was called for goaltender interference on the ensuing delayed penalty. The play resulted in a penalty shot for Critchlow and a power play for Saint Mary's and both would take advantage. Critchlow gave the V-Reds a 6-4 lead as he converted the penalty shot, only to see the Huskies respond just 53 seconds later on the man advantage. That would cap the scoring in a period in which UNB out-shot Saint Mary's 15-11.

- There was no scoring in the 3rd period despite each team having a number of good chances. UNB had one power play while Saint Mary's received three, including one with 21 seconds remaining in the game. The Huskies pulled their goalie to give them a 6-on-4 and won the ensuing face-off, but a diving block by Maillet off of a slap-shot from the point capped the victory. Shots favoured UNB 13-5 in the period and 40-29 in the game.

- UNB went with the same line-up as last night with Tyler Carroll and Shea Kewin remaining out and Tim Priamo moving up from defence to play forward.

- UNB went 0 for 3 on the power play while Saint Mary's was 1 for 7.

- Joel Vienneau started, and won, his 3rd consecutive game.

-  Critchlow, Halley, and Cory Tanaka from Saint Mary's were named the game's three stars.

- UNB went 36 for 69 in the face-off circle. 

- Attendance was 2057.

- With his 2nd period assist Cam Braes has now picked up a point in 10 straight games. He has 5 goals and 10 assists during that stretch.

- Philippe Maillet now has points in 6 straight games (6 goals, 6 assist) and 13 out of his last 14 (12 goals, 13 assists).  

- UNB is the 3rd team in the country to reach 20 wins this season, joining Calgary (20-2-2) and Alberta (20-2-1). 

- This is the 5th consecutive season the Varsity Reds have had a winning streak of at least 9 games (regular season + playoff games only).

- Elsewhere around the AUS tonight seen Acadia rebound with a 8-3 win over St. Thomas in Wolfville, Dalhouise shock UPEI 7-3 in Halifax, and Moncton remain hot with a 4-2 home win over St. FX.

- With each team having played 24 games this is how the AUS standings look heading into the final two weekends of the season: UNB - 41 points (20-3-1), Acadia - 39 (18-3-3), Moncton - 32 (16-8-0), UPEI - 27 (12-9-3), St. FX - 23 (10-11-3), Saint Mary's - 22 (11-13-0), Saint Thomas - 14 (6-16-2), and Dalhousie - 7 (3-20-1). So, Acadia has almost clinched the other first round bye, Moncton is looking in good shape to finish 3rd, as is UPEI for 4th, St. FX and Saint Mary's are probably going to come down to the wire to decide 5th and 6th, and St. Thomas and Dalhousie are (or almost are) eliminated from playoff contention.

- The Varsity Reds are back in action next Friday night when they travel up the hill to the Grant*Harvey Centre to face the St. Thomas Tommies. They play their final home game of the regular season on Saturday night against Moncton. Both games are scheduled for 7PM.