The University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds looked more like the team we have become accustomed to seeing as they ended the 1st "half" of the season with a 4-1 victory over the visiting Universite de Moncton Aigles Bleus tonight at the AUC. UNB heads into the Christmas break with a 10-3-2 record and are currently tied with the 10-2-2 St. FX X-Men for 2nd place in the AUS, 3 points behind the 12-2-1 Acadia Axemen.
The game got off to a bit of an inauspicious start for the V-Reds as they out-shot Moncton 20-4 in a dominant opening period. However, the game remained scoreless despite UNB also receiving the only three power plays in the period thanks to the stellar work of Adrien Lemay in the Moncton goal.
The V-Reds were finally rewarded for their hard work at 5:10 of the 2nd period on their 26th shot of the night when Dylan Willick (Suellentrop, Boudens) converted after a great individual effort in which he stripped a defender of the puck at the Moncton blueline, skated down the right side, drove hard to the net, and beat Lemay from in close. It only took UNB 70 seconds to strike again and double their lead. After Randy Gazzola banked the puck off the glass in his own zone, Cameron Brace got to the puck first in the neutral zone and split the defense to go in all alone. Brace went forehand to backhand to beat Lemay for the 2-0 lead. Tyler Carroll also picked up an assist on the goal. The V-Reds kept the pressure on and made it 3-0 on their 5th power play of the night at 9:41 after Jordan Murray worked it down low to Stephen Anderson who found Rob Mignardi in the slot for the one-timer over Lemay's shoulder. Things got interesting late in the period when Carroll was assessed a 5 minute major and game misconduct for a hit to the head while UNB was already down a man, but the V-Reds got a huge break when Moncton took a penalty just 10 seconds into the 5-on-3 to relieve some of the tension. They would kill off the remaining 2:50 of the penalty to come out of period unscathed. Shots in the period were 14-10 for UNB.
Moncton got on the board 2:50 into the 3rd period when Victor Beaulac shoveled the puck past Etienne Marcoux to make it 3-1 but that was as close as they would get. The V-Reds got the goal back at 15:40 when Gazzola sprung a streaking Francis Beauvillier for a breakaway right up the middle of the neutral zone. Lemay got a piece of Beauvillier's snap shot but not enough to prevent it from trickling in for a 4-1 lead. Chris Caissy was credited with the secondary assist on what proved to be the final goal of the night. Shots favoured UNB 17-9 in the period and 52-23 in the game.
- UNB played with only 15 skaters - and 4 defenceman - as Marcus McIvor, Alex Wall, Philippe Maillet, and Peter Trainor were all out.
- To make things even more interesting the V-Reds had 2 players receive 10-minute misconducts (Halley, Caissy) to go along with Carroll's game misconduct.
- Moncton was 0 for 3 on the power play. UNB scored once on eight opportunities.
- Brace, Murray, and Marcoux were named the three stars of the game.
- UNB won 39 out of the 73 face-offs in the game.
- Attendance was a season-high 3279 on North Side elementary school/Home Depot night.
- Murray and Brace were both +3 on the night.
- Willick had 9 shots in the game.
- Brace enters the break leading the conference in both goals (13) and points (24).
- The five National Championship banners have been replaced with newer ones that provide a more consistent look. The old ones were just the ones the team had received from the CIAU/CIS at the time of the event so each banner had it's own distinct look.
- The traditional 50/50 was brought back after the jackpot for the new Shoot for Seven game was claimed during the last home game.
- It was announced that UNB will host the OUA's Concordia Stingers for two games in this year's Pete Kelly Cup. The games are scheduled for January 2nd and 3rd at the AUC.
- In other AUS action tonight Acadia broke open a 1-1 game with 4 3rd period goals en route to a 5-1 win over Dalhousie in Wolfville. The UPEI/St. Thomas game was postponed due to weather conditions on the Confederation Bridge and will play Saturday night instead. St. FX and Saint Mary's will also play tomorrow night to wrap up their 1st half schedules.
- So ends what has been a trying (at times) 1st half for the Varsity Reds, especially when it comes to injuries. The good news is that reinforcements should be on the way for the stretch run. Cam Braes and Mike Thomas should both be back in the line-up in the 2nd half which will provide a huge boost. Also, hopefully the time off will allow the current injured players to get healthy. Further, keep in mind that UNB is still one player short of the roster cap so it wouldn't be a surprise to see an addition - hopefully a defenceman - over the Christmas break. It will be nice to be able to see a full, 18-skater roster being iced every night, which is something that hasn't happened very often thus far this season. We will be sure to keep you posted on any happenings between now and January.