Thursday, February 19, 2015

UNB Strikes First

The University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds fired a season-high 48 shots on goal en route to a 5-2 victory over the St. FX X-Men tonight at the AUC in a game that was much closer than either of those stats might indicate. The V-Reds now lead the best-of-5 semi-finals 1 game to 0.

The first period was perhaps a bit uncharacteristic given St. FX's usual low scoring, defensive style of play. The period featured back and forth action throughout with lots of shots from both sides. The X-Men finally broke the scoreless tie with a goal by Zackary McQueen at 17:00, just moments after the Varsity Reds had extended pressure in the St. FX zone. However, UNB took all of 39 seconds to respond when Cam Braes found Tyler Carroll, playing his 1st game since January 16th , all alone in the slot for a quick snap shot that found its way past Drew Owsley in the X-Men goal. Randy Gazzola picked up the secondary assist on the goal. The period would end in a 1-1 tie and UNB holding an 18-12 advantage in shots on goal.

The 2nd period played out similar to the opening frame with UNB out-shooting the X-Men 16-10 and scoring the only goal of the period. After X-Men captain Robert Slaney took an ill-advised penalty for roughing after the whistle Cam Braes made them pay. Jordan Murray ripped a shot from the point through traffic that deflected high off the back boards to Carroll, who quickly threw a behind the back pass across the slot to Braes, who hammered it into the wide open cage.

A few unfortunate plays by the V-Reds allowed the X-Men to tie the game early in the 3rd period. After Colin Suellentrop was assessed a tripping penalty on what could only be described as a weak call with 14 seconds left in the period fellow defenceman Alex Wall began to skate the puck out of the zone before losing his footing, allowing St. FX to recover the puck and created a 2-on-1 inside the UNB zone. Slaney found Erick Locke all alone at the side of the net for the tip-in to tie the score at 2 just 16 seconds into the period. But the V-Reds quickly answered again, this time with a pair of goals in the next 3:30. First, Wall made up for his uncharacteristic gaffe by taking the puck just inside the X-Men blueline, skating down the left wall, and finding Braes in the slot for his 2nd goal of the night to restore the lead at 2:01. Just 1:45 later Francis Beauvillier (Mignardi, MaCdougall) had two cracks from in close. His first shot was stopped by Owsley, but he buried his own rebound just under the crossbar to give UNB a 4-2 lead. Cam Critchlow (Mignardi, Wall) rounded out the scoring with a power play goal at 17:27 to put the game on ice. A dangerous looking hit from behind by X-Men defenceman Trey Lewis on Rob Mignardi with just over a minute left caused a scuffle that will undoubtedly ramp up the intensity moving forward in this series. Shots in the period were 14-6 for the V-Reds.

- Cris Caissy, R.D. Chisholm, and Peter Trainor were all scratched tonight.

- UNB out-shot St. FX 48-28 on the night. The shots were 26-22 at one point before UNB took over, firing 20 out of the next 21 shots on goal. The only X-Men shot was the Locke goal.

- The most shots UNB had allowed to St. FX in the team's four regular season meeting was 20. St. FX reached that total tonight about halfway through the game.

- David Shantz was solid in net, making 26 saves in his first AUS playoff game.

- UNB was 2 for 5 on the power play. St. FX was 1 for 7.

- Braes, Beauvillier, and Carroll were named the game's three stars.

- Lewis received a 5 minute major and game misconduct for his hit on Mignardi. It would seem likely that he will miss tomorrow night's game.

- So, Matt Petgrave did this tonight (courtesy Nick Murray)...

 - After Petgrave was sent off for slashing at 10:16 of the 2rd period Philippe Halley, who was serving a tripping penalty, was given a 10-minute misconduct for having words with the official. It was apparent he wasn't too pleased with some of the calls going against the V-Reds tonight.

- UNB's previous high in shots this season was 46, which they accomplished in a 7-2 win at Dalhousie on January 23rd.

- The Varsity Reds dominated the face-off circle as they won 41 out of 70 draws. Dylan Willick (11-8), Braes (8-5), and Taylor MacDougall (9-5) had their usual strong performances.

-  Attendance was a solid 2357 as Fredericton was getting hit with yet another snowstorm.

- The Varsity Reds are now 20-8 in game 1's under head coach Gardiner MacDougall. In the previous 19 instances in which UNB won game 1, they went on to win the series 17 times.

- In the other semi-final series the Acadia Axemen avenged a 3-2 double overtime loss to Saint Mary's last night with a 4-3 win this evening in Wolfville. The series will now shift to Halifax for game 3 on Sunday night. 

- The V-Reds and X-Men are back at the AUC tomorrow night for game 2. Game time is 7PM.