Friday, January 30, 2015

Gazzola Lifts V-Reds In OT

Defenceman Randy Gazzola played the role of hero tonight at the AUC as his goal 1:58 into overtime gave the conference-leading V-Reds a thrilling 2-1 victory over the 2nd place Acadia Axemen. The win was a small measure of revenge for the Varsity Reds as they had lost their first three contests of the year against the Axemen, including two in extra time. UNB improves to 20-3-2 on the year and now sit three points up on Acadia with three games remaining.

The game did not have much flow to it for the first 40 minutes as it was marred by a number of penalties - 15 in all. Amazingly, neither team could take advantage of the numerous opportunities, which included 5 straight minutes of power play time in the 1st period for Acadia, a full minute of 5-on-3 play for UNB shortly afterwards, and a 5 minute major penalty to the Axemen in the early stages of the 2nd period. In many instances the shorthanded team was able to generate the better chances.

The teams did trade goals in the first two periods though, with defenceman Jordan Murray (unassisted) staking UNB to a 1-0 lead at 15:01 of the 1st period after he deftly stickhandled around an Axemen defender at the blue line to keep the puck in the zone and threw what seemed to be a harmless looking wrist shot towards the net that caught Axemen goalie Brandon Glover off guard. The V-Reds took the lead into the intermission, despite being out-shot 9-8.

Acadia managed to tie the game just 1:28 into the 2nd period when forward Mike Cazzola swooped into the slot to pick up a loose puck and quickly snapped it by David Shantz in the UNB net. The V-Reds held a 12-5 shot advantage in the period but the teams remained tied 1-1 after two.

UNB controlled play for the most part in the 3rd period, out-shooting Acadia 9-2, but were unable to find the go-ahead goal. Again, both teams failed to take advantage of their power play opportunities - the V-Reds with 9 minutes left, the Axemen with 5:11 left, and UNB again with 1:34 left that carried over into overtime.

Acadia managed to kill off the remaining 26 seconds of shorthanded time to begin the extra session and both teams began to open things up. The V-Reds were finally able to end the game on a bit of a scrambly play at 1:58 when Gazzola (Halley, Critchlow) stepped into a puck that had squirted out towards the blue line. His slap shot just made it past a sprawling Glover, who was trying to recover after being taken out of position from a play in front of the net moments earlier. Shots favoured Acadia 2-1 in the overtime, but UNB held a 30-18 advantage in overall.

- Alex Wall returned to the line-up, replacing R.D. Chisholm on defence. Tyler Carroll and Taylor MacDougall remained out due to upper body injuries.

- Gazzola, Murray, and Cazzola were the game's three stars.

- UNB was 0 for 8 on the powerplay while Acadia was 0 for 7.

- Matt Petgrave (arguing with a referee) and the Axemen's Remy Giftopoulos (contact to the head) received game misconducts.

- UNB only won 25 out of 55 face-offs in the game.

- Attendance was a solid 2538.

- The victory allowed UNB to avoid being swept in a season series for the first time since Saint Mary's did it during the 2004-2005 season.

- Tonight's win was the V-Reds 20th of the season. This is the 8th straight year they have reached that milestone.

- Philippe Maillet seen his 17 game scoring streak come to an end. He still owns a two point lead in the conference scoring race.

- In other games around the league tonight all of the home teams emerged victorious - Moncton beat Dalhousie 4-2, St. FX blanked St. Thomas 4-0, and Saint Mary's rolled over UPEI 5-1.

- Tomorrow night the V-Reds are back in action when they host the Dalhousie Tigers at the AUC. It is Home Depot Night as well as North Side Elementary School Night. Game time is the usual 7PM.