Wednesday, January 14, 2015

V-Reds Pull Away From Tommies

For 40 minutes the St. Thomas Tommies gave the visiting University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds all they could handle, but the V-Reds scored 3 goals in the final period en route to a convincing 6-1 win over their cross-campus rivals in the 188th edition of the Battle of the Hill tonight at the Grant*Harvey Centre. UNB's 7th straight win improves their record to 15-2-2 on the season, 3 points ahead of the 2nd place Acadia Axemen.

The game got off to a bit of an odd start for the V-Reds as they were assessed a delay of game penalty before the game had even begun after they took too long, in the referee's mind, getting lined up for the opening face-off. They killed off the penalty but it may have contributed to a sluggish start as they only had 4 shots on net in the first 15 minutes of the period and were having a difficult time gaining the Tommies zone. They finally broke through at 15:11 when Rob Mignardi fired a pass from behind the STU net to Dana Fraser, who was streaking down the slot unnoticed. Fraser wasted no time in snapping the puck past recently recruited Tommies goaltender Philippe Trudeau. Philippe Halley was credited with the secondary assist on the goal. The Tommies quickly responded, however, as they converted on a 2-on-1 only 40 seconds later to tie the game. UNB re-took the lead at 18:41 after Randy Gazzola took a cross-ice pass at the blue line from fellow d-man Matt Petgrave and threw a shot through traffic and onto the goal. Mignardi collected the rebound just outside the crease and took his time gaining control of the puck before sliding it softly into the net before Trudeau could get back in position. The shots in the period were 9-7 for UNB.

The early part of the 2nd period brought a scary moment for the V-Reds and their fans as Tyler Carroll got checked hard from behind and into the boards. He left the ice in visible pain and holding his arm, but he would return to for the beginning of the 3rd period. Philippe Halley also got banged up after being on the receiving end of a big hit. However, he quickly recovered. The game remained 2-1 for much of the 2nd period with the play and shots fairly even. The V-Reds were finally able to stretch their lead at 16:04 when Cam Critchlow (Maillet, Caissy) got the puck in close. His original shot was stopped, but he stayed with the rebound and fluttered a shot up and over Trudeau. That was the only goal of the period as UNB out-shot STU 12-11.

The 3rd period was all Varsity Reds as they never gave the Tommies any hope for a potential comeback, out-shooting St. Thomas 13-1 at one point on their way to a 20-8 advantage in the period. UNB received goals from Peter Trainor (assisted Wall 2:40), a shorthanded goal by Fraser (his 2nd of the night at 12:24), and Cameron Brace (at 15:47 after a pretty passing play with Carroll and Cam Braes from in tight).

- Shots in the game were 41-26.

- Taylor MacDougall and Matt Boudens remained out of the line-up with injuries. Colin Suellentrop was serving a 1 game suspension after his 5 minute major and game misconduct for checking to the head in Sunday's game.

- David Shantz was back in goal for UNB and had his 2nd straight solid game, making 25 saves to improve to 13-2-2 on the season.

- Shantz, Fraser, and Mignardi were named the game's three stars.

- Attendance was 941.

- Both teams were unsuccessful on the power play. UNB had 4 opportunities while STU had 5.

- The V-Reds won 51 out of 82 face-offs. Dylan Willick (19 out of 26) and Fraser (15 out of 22) were outstanding all evening.

- Critchlow and Adrian Robertson were both +3 in the game.

- Brace had a game-high 7 shots on goal.
 
- UNB hot 3 posts in the game. St. Thomas also hit the iron once.

- With their win against Moncton on Sunday afternoon UNB clinched a playoff berth.

- UNB is now 120-44-8 in the regular season and 12-4 in the playoffs against St. Thomas.

- In the only other AUS game tonight, the UPEI Panthers defeated Moncton 3-1 in Charlottetown.

- With each team now having played 19 games, the AUS standings currently look like this: UNB (32 points), Acadia (29), Saint Mary's (27), St. FX (25), UPEI (20), Moncton (16), Dalhousie (11), St. Thomas (5).

- Up next for the Varsity Reds is arguably their most important weekend of the regular season. They host St. FX on Friday night before welcoming St. Mary's to the AUC on Saturday night, which will also be Military Appreciation Night. Game time for both contests is scheduled for 7PM.