Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Murray's OT Winner Clinches 1st

Defenceman Jordan Murray wasted no time in giving the University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds a victory over the visiting Moncton Aigles Bleus tonight at the AUC. His goal only 10 seconds into overtime lifted the V-Reds to a 3-2 win in their regular season home finale and also clinched the team's 8th straight 1st place finish in the regular season. UNB is now 22-3-2 on the year, 5 points clear of the 2nd place Acadia Axemen.

The Varsity Reds dominated the game, but some exceptional goaltending by Aigles Bleau netminder Brandon Thibeau, some unfortunate puck luck, and a missed call kept the game much closer than many had probably expected.

UNB never did trail in the game, though. After Thibeau made a handful of spectacular saves in the opening period, Rob Mignardi (Petgrave, Beauvillier) was finally able to open the scoring at 16:14 when he banged in a rebound just outside the crease. The V-Reds would maintain the 1-0 lead until 2:34 into the 2nd period when the Saulnier twins connected on the equalizer. The tie wouldn't last long though, as Francis Beauvillier (Mignardi, MacDougall) jumped all over a juicy rebound in the slot and quickly one-timed it in to restore the lead at 6:09. The teams would trade power play chances later in the period but the score remained 2-1 heading into the 3rd. The Aigles Bleus managed to tie it for a second time at 10:40 of the final period when they crashed the net and beat V-Reds goalie David Shantz. UNB had a golden opportunity to win it in regulation after Moncton took a penalty at 16:40 and then another one at 18:14, giving the V-Reds a 5-on-3 for 26 seconds. They were unable to capitalize before the period ended, sending the game in overtime. Overtime didn't last long, however, as Murray (Willick, Robertson) took the opening face-off, skated into the offensive zone, and threw a wrist shot from just inside the blueline off the post and in for the game-winning power play goal at 0:10.

- Taylor MacDougall, Jordan Murray, and Matt Petgrave all returned to the line-up while Cam Braes also played after leaving Saturday night's game early due to a hit form behind into the boards. Chris Caissy, Tyler Carroll, and R.D. Chisholm were all out.

- Shots in the game favoured UNB 40-21 with period totals of 14-6, 10-8, 15-7, and 1-0.

- Murray, Mignardi, and Beauvillier were the three stars.

- UNB was 1 for 4 on the power play. Moncton was 0 for 2.

- Attendance was only 1671. Overall, attendance seemed to be down quite a bit this season.

- The overtime goal was a bit of redemption for Murray. In the 1st period he had a goal waved off even though replays clearly showing the puck hit the back of the net before popping out. Somehow all four officials and the goal judge missed it.

- UNB only won 26 out of 55 face-offs in the game, although Dylan Willick (8 out of 14) and Cam Braes (9 out of 13) having strong nights.

- Before the game Alex Wall and Cam Braes were named recipients of the Ross 'Punch' Walker Memorial Award. Taylor MacDougall was named the winner of the Don MacAdam Award.

- David Shantz picked up his conference-leading 18th win of the season. It's tied for the most victories by an AUS goalie since former UNB goalie Michael Ouzas had 20 during the 2007-2008 season.

- UNB has won their last 3 overtime games and are now 4-2 in such games.

- UNB swept the season series against Moncton for the 2nd consecutive year, outscoring the Aigles Bleus 24-6 in the process. They have now won 5 straight home games and 12 straight games overall against Moncton.

- In the only other game tonight Saint Mary's blasted Dalhousie 7-1.

- The V-Reds wrap up another regular season on Friday night in the same place they began it 4 months ago - in Charlottetown to face the UPEI Panthers. Game time is 7PM.

- It was announced tonight that UNB will host the first two games of their best-of-5 semi-final series on Thursday, February 19th and Friday, February 20th. The winner of that series will automatically qualify for a berth in the University Cup, to be held in Halifax in March.