Saturday, October 10, 2015

V-Reds Cruise To Opening Win

The University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds got the regular season started with a bang as they hammered the visiting UPEI Panthers 8-2 tonight in their home opener at the AUC. UNB has now won an incredible 27 consecutive home openers as well as 5 straight season openers.

The game got off to a dream start for the Varsity Reds as they scored on their very first shot of the season just 1:42 into the game. Dylan Willick won a defensive zone face-off back to Marcus McIvor, who lobbed the puck from his own goal line up and over the Panthers defence. Cameron Brace used his speed to track it down first and break down the right side all alone before sliding the puck along the ice from a bad angle for a goal that Panthers goalie Mavric Parks would no doubt like to have back. Dylan Willick picked up the secondary assist on UNB's first goal of the season. The V-Reds doubled the lead on their 2nd shot at 4:01 after with some nifty passing. Philippe Maillet gathered the puck behind the net, found Philippe Halley just above the goal line to the right of Parks, and he quickly fired a pass across the slot to Peter Trainor, who one-timed it in. Some more great tic-tac-toe passing, this time on the power play, extended the lead to 3-0 as Francis Beavillier (Caissy, Mignardi) found the back of the net. Shots in the period were 13-7 for UNB.

The Panthers were able to cut in to the lead early in the middle frame after UNB got in some penalty trouble. A penalty at the end of the 1st period and another just 17 seconds into the 2nd put UPEI on a two-man advantage and Brent Andrews was able to convert 59 seconds in to make it 3-1. However, UNB essentially put the game away with a pair of goals just before the mid-point of the game. First, after some scrambled play in and around the Panthers zone, Halley and Maillet finally corralled the puck and had some room to carry it down the right side. Maillet drew three defenders towards him before finding Randy Gazzola streaking in to the zone and he was able to beat Parks with a snap shot at 7:20. UNB was then able to make it 5-1 just 64 seconds later when Taylor MacDougall (Critchlow, Petgrave), who was stopped earlier in the game on a shorthanded breakaway, got another chance and made no mistake this time as he slid the puck between Parks' legs. Matt Petgrave made it 6-1 at 13:01 when he received a nice drop pass from Matt Boudens just inside the blueline and hammered the slap shot through a maze of bodies and into the net. The goal knocked Parks out of the game as he gave way to back-up Connor Wilkinson. Shots were 15-5 in the period for the V-Reds.

The two teams rounded out the scoring in the game with a flurry of 3 goals to begin the 3rd period. Brace (unassisted) picked up his 2nd goal of the game at 1:18 when he stole the puck down low and fired a low percentage shot towards the net that took a fortuitous deflection off of a Panthers defenders skate. Just 16 seconds later Halley (Gazzola, Maillet) made it an 8-1 game when he ripped a wrist shot from the tigh face-off circle that beat Wilkinson over the shoulder glove side. The Panthers got one back 40 seconds later when Casey Babineau picked up a loose puck just in front of the crease and lifted it up and over a down and out Etienne Marcoux, who had made a couple of acrobatic saves moments prior. UNB were out-shot 9-8 in the period but held the overall advantage 36-21.

- Stephen Anderson was the lone scratch for the V-Reds as Tyler Carroll and Jordan Murray, who both had played sparingly in the pre-season, were back in the line-up.

- The game was chippy throughout as the teams combined for 82 penalty minutes on 25 infractions.

- UNB was 1 for 5 on the power play while UPEI was 1 for 8.

- The V-Reds dominated in the face-off circle, winning 44 out of the 65 draws in the game. 

- Marcoux was solid in net as he made 19 saves. The defense was sharp in front of him so he didn't need to make many of the spectacular variety.

- Petgrave was a game-high +4.

- Maillet, Beauvillier, and Halley were named the stars of the game.

- The Panthers hit the post 3 times in the game while UNB did so twice.

- The forward lines to begin the game looked something like this: Maillet/Trainor/Halley, Boudens/Willick/Brace, Carroll/MacDougall/Critchlow, and Mignardi/Caissy/Beauvillier.

- The defensive pairings were Murray-McIvor, Wall-Gazzola, and Petgrave-Suellentrop.

- The V-Reds raised their 2014-2015 AUS Championship banner before the game.

- This is UNB's 7th straight regular season home victory over UPEI.

- The last time UNB played UPEI in their season + home opener was in 2009 when they won 10-0.

- Perhaps the most pleasant surprise thus far in the early going has been the play of the V-Reds offense. Despite losing their top two centres from last year in Dana Fraser and Cam Braes and not replacing them with any incoming recruits it was thought the offense might struggle a little bit. However, that has not been the case at all as they have scored 40 goals in their first 7 games (an average of 5.71/game), with at least 5 goals in all but one of those contests.

- Attendance was 1938.

- The start of the game was delayed by 30 minutes as high winds earlier today meant the Panthers were late getting across the Confederation Bridge.

- In other AUS action tonight the St. FX X-Men picked up a big 3-1 road victory against Acadia and Saint Mary's defeated Dalhousie 4-1 at home. Moncton beat St. Thomas 4-1 at home on Thursday night to kick off the AUS season.

- The V-Reds are back at the AUC next weekend for a pair of games. They face St. FX on Friday night before welcoming the Dalhousie Tigers on Saturday night. Both games are slated for a 7PM start. Of course, all games can be seen on www.AUStv.ca.