Tuesday, March 10, 2015

UNB vs. Windsor - Preview, Prediction, Poll

The #2 seeded University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds open their quest for a 6th National Championship in school history on Thursday night when they face off against the #7 seeded Windsor Lancers. It will be the 6th all-time meeting between the two schools, including the 5th in the last two years. UNB has won all 5 previous match-ups. Here is the complete breakdown:

1997-1998: 3-2 OT victory at University Cup in Saskatoon
2013-2014: 5-0 victory in exhibition at AUC
2013-2014: 5-4 victory in exhibition at AUC
2014-2015: 6-5 victory in exhibition at AUC
2014-2015: 7-1 victory in exhibition at AUC

Many will look at the results of the two game series played between the Lancers and V-Reds over this past Christmas break and assume that UNB will roll to an easy win. However, it should be noted that the Lancers were missing a couple of their top players for those games and Thursday night's game should prove to be a much closer tilt.

The Lancers actually posted a better regular season record than UNB this year at 22-4-1, spending all 20 weeks ranked in the Top 10 with a high of #3. They boast the 3rd most potent offense (4.22 goals/game, just ahead of UNB) and the 5th best power play (23.6%) in the nation so the V-Reds will have to be on their game defensively. We seen a glimpse of how explosive the Lancers can be offensively in the first game between the two teams this year.

While they were not as strong at keeping pucks out of the net as UNB was (11th in the country allowing 2.68 goals/game compared to 4th, 2.12 for the V-Reds), Lancers goaltender Parker Van Buskirk has proven that he is capable of stealing a game for his team. The OUA West goalie of the year and 1st Team All Star posted a 2.86 GAA and .905 save percentage this season.

Some other players for the V-Reds to keep an eye on include CIS leading scorer, OUA West MVP, and OUA 1st Team All Star Spencer Pommels (16 goals, 34 assists), OUA West defenceman of the year Kenny Bradford (8 goals, 20 assists), and OUA West rookie of the year Dylan Denomme (13 goals, 18 assists).

However, while the Lancers are not to be taken lightly, the V-Reds should be confident given their previous meetings and recent play against Acadia in the AUS Finals. UNB has beaten the Lancers four times in the last 18 months and played arguably their best hockey of the season in their two game sweep of the Axemen. They have also tended to do very, very well against OUA opponents, especially those who are more offensively oriented and are willing to get into a fast-paced, back-and-forth style of game (see the last couple games against UQTR). This game could take on a similar tone, although the Lancers may draw off the experience of already having played UNB his season and adjust accordingly. Ultimately, Windsor has had a fantastic season but it is unlikely they have faced the same calibre of opponents that UNB has, not to mention they probably haven't faced a team as good or as deep as UNB in the OUA all season. We all know anything can happen in a one game showdown - a bad bounce, a hot goaltender, a flukey goal - but expect the game to remain close before the V-Reds eventually wear down and pull away. It would have to be considered a fairly big upset if the Lancers were to emerge victorious.

So, what do you think? Vote below:

Who wins - UNB or Windsor?
UNB by 1 or 2 goals
UNB by 3+ goals
Windsor by 1 or 2 goals
Windsor by 3+ goals
Poll Maker