The University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds never led until it mattered as they overcame three one goal deficits to eventually prevail 4-3 in overtime over the visiting St. FX X-Men tonight at the AUC. Sophomore defenceman Randy Gazzola provided the heroics, helping UNB improve to 2-0-0 on the season.
The first period was a typical St. FX type of game against UNB with neither side able to generate much offensively before the X-Men got a late power play and took advantage of a fortunate bounce. Just 4 seconds into the man advantage a shot from the point hit the back boards behind goalie Etienne Marcoux and bounced in front of the net, where Eric Locke was waiting to put it in to give the X-Men a 1-0 lead with 1:33 left in the period. Shots in the frame were 9-7 for UNB.
UNB was able to respond with a pair of goals in the 2nd period to tie the game. Francis Beauvillier received a nice drop pass from Philippe Maillet near the X-Men blueline and drove wide around the defence and to the net before backhanding a shot up and over Drew Owsley to tie the game 1-1 at 2:40. However, the X-Men responded in the first half of a four minute power play to re-take the lead at 5:07 on a high, rising shot through traffic by Blake Gal. The V-Reds killed off the remaining 2:45 of the power play and managed to tie the game for a second time at 17:05. After some great work along the boards behind the X-Men net Beauvillier was able to shake free of a defender and find Cameron Brace in the slot and before you could blink Brace had deposited it into the net. Chris Caissy picked up the secondary assist on the play. The teams would head to the locker room tied 2-2 after a period in which UNB out-shot the visitors 8-5.
The X-Men took the lead for the 3rd time on the evening 2:13 into the 3rd period when Craig Duininck converted after a flurry of activity in front of Marcoux. This allowed the X-Men to go into a defensive shell as we have seen many times in the past. They focused on getting pucks deep, clogging up the neutral zone, and not taking any unnecessary risks offensively. This strategy stifled the V-Reds for much of the period but an X-Men penalty with 6:02 remaining to be costly with UNB taking just 7 seconds to tie the game. Rob Mignardi (Beauvillier, Caissy) made a great play to keep the puck in the offensive zone just off the face-off, circled around, and slapped a laser beam from the top of the left face-off circle into the top corner to knot things at 3. The V-Reds got another chance on the power play shortly afterwards but were unable to convert. This proved to be the best chance by either team before the end of regulation and the game would head to overtime. UNB out-shot St. FX 15-12 in the period.
The first couple minutes of the 4-on-4 overtime were evenly played but after that it was all Varsity Reds. They finally broke through with 2:24 remaining when Randy Gazzola (Carroll, Wall) took a pass in the neutral zone, skated all alone into the X-Men zone, and snapped what appeared to be an innocent looking shot from the top of the left face-off circle towards the net that beat Owsley to give the V-Reds a dramatic victory. Shots in the overtime period were 11-3 for UNB.
- Stephen Anderson was once again out of the line-up.
- Marcoux made 24 saves on 27 shots to pick up the win. He was also given credit for an assist on UNB;s first goal of the night.
- Attendance was 1754.
- UNB won 39 out of the 72 face-offs in the game.
- The line of Beauvillier, Mignardi, and Caissy accounted for 2 goals and 4 assists on the night and has been one of UNB's best through the season's first two games.
- In other games around the AUS tonight UPEI defeated Dalhousie 4-1 in Charlottetown, Saint Mary's rolled to a 6-1 home victory over St. Thomas, and Acadia recovered from blowing a 3-0 3rd period lead to defeat Moncton 4-3 in overtime in Wolfville.
- The V-Reds host the Dalhousie Tigers tomorrow night at 7PM.