Friday, February 27, 2015

UNB In The AUS Finals, Against Acadia, Predictions

With their 6-3 victory last night over the St. FX X-Men in the 5th and deciding game of the AUS semi-finals the Varsity Reds have moved on to their 15th AUS Finals appearance since 1973, and 9th under current head coach Gardiner MacDougall. Here is how they have fared historically:

1984: Defeated Moncton 2 games to 0
1993: Lost to Acadia 2 games to 0
1994: Lost to Acadia 2 games to 0
1997: Defeated Acadia 2 games to 0
1998: Defeated Acadia 2 games to 1
2000: Defeated Acadia 3 games to 1
2003: Defeated St. FX 3 games to 1
2006: Lost to Acadia 3 games to 0
2007: Lost to Moncton 2 games to 0
2008: Defeated Saint Mary's 2 games to 0
2009: Lost to Saint Mary's 2 games to 1
2011: Defeated St. FX 3 games to 2
2012: Defeated Moncton 3 games to 0
2013: Defeated Saint Mary's 2 games to 1

Overall: 23-17, 9 series wins and 5 series losses
Under MacDougall: 14-11, 5 series wins and 3 series losses

- UNB's 9 AUS titles since 1984 are the most in the conference, ahead of the 6 won by both Moncton and Acadia.

- UNB's 13 AUS titles all-time puts them in a 2nd place tie with Saint Mary's, well behind the 24 won by St. FX.

- This will be the 12th time since 1984 the V-Reds and Axemen have met in the playoffs, including the 6th time since MacDougall became coach. Acadia is MacDougall's 2nd most frequent playoff opponent after St. FX (8 series). Interestingly, only one of the previous 5 meetings has taken place in the finals.

Here is the rundown:

1984: Won 2 games to 1 in semi-finals
1993: Lost 2 games to 0 in finals
1994: Lost 2 games to 0 in finals
1997: Won 2 games to 0 finals
1998: Won 2 games to 1 in finals
2000: Won 3 games to 1 in finals
2001: Won 2 game to 1 in quarter-finals
2005: Lost 2 games to 0 in semi-finals
2006: Lost 3 games to 0 in finals
2009: Won 3 games to 0 in semi-finals
2011: Won 3 games to 1 in semi-finals

Overall: 17-13, 7 series win and 4 series losses
Under MacDougall: 8-7, 3 series wins and 2 series losses
In Finals: 7-9, 3 series wins and 3 series losses 

- However, like we said against St. FX, none of the what you just read means anything come Monday night. The Axemen battled UNB all year for the top spot in the conference, ultimately finishing 3 points back with a 20-5-3 record, and both teams spent much of the year ranked in the top-3 nationally. Acadia was 3rd in the league in goals scored (111, 7 back of UNB) and 4th in goals allowed (76 to UNB's 60). However, they have a great power play (2nd at 20.9%), a good penalty kill (4th at 82.5%). and plenty of experience thanks to last year's AUS title and University Cup appearance. They also feature 4 of the top 10 scorers in the league in Brett Thompson (2nd with 38 points including league-leading 19 goals), Mike Cazzola (6th with 32 points), rookie Zach Franko (8th with 30 points), and reigning CIS player of the year Liam Heelis (10th with 26 points). High scoring defenceman Chris Owens (20 points in 25 games) is also someone the V-Reds need to keep a close eye on.

The Axemen took 3 out of the 4 meetings between the two teams this year, with 3 of the games going into overtime. They won 4-3 in OT at home on October 24th, 4-3 in OT at the AUC on November 15th, and 4-1 in Wolfville on January 24 before the V-Reds got a slight measure of revenge with a 2-1 OT victory in Fredericton on January 30th.

Overall, expect this series to be just as tight as the series against the X-Men. These two teams are very close, as the regular season meetings showed, and it is unlikely UNB will be able to out-shoot the Axemen or control play to quite the same degree that they did against St. FX. Once again, special teams will be key. The V-Reds got by the X-Men despite an ineffective power play due in large part to an exceptional penalty kill. Just like I said in the semi-final preview, the key for the Varsity Reds will be to keep the special teams play fairly even and have goaltender David Shantz make all of the saves he needs to. It will also be important to contain Acadia's top two lines as their top 5 goal scorers accounted for 64 goals this year, or 58% of their offense. By comparison, UNB only got 52 goals (44% of their offense) from their top 5 goal scorers. The V-Reds have a much more balanced and deeper offense, as evident by having 13 different players score at least 5 goals this year compared to only 7 for Acadia, and that could be a significant advantage as they have a number of guys who have proven that they can score at any given time. The 3rd and 4th lines could play a vital role in the outcome of this series. In the end, I believe that the Varsity Reds balance and depth, to go along with their relentless forecheck, will wear down the Axemen just enough to lead UNB to a narrow series victory.

PREDICTION: UNB in 3

Now it's your turn. Who do you got?

Who Will Win The AUS Championship

UNB in 2
UNB in 3
Acadia in 2
Acadia in 3
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Special thanks to the RedSea Database

Thursday, February 26, 2015

UNB Outlasts X-Men To Advance

The University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds advanced to the AUS Final after a 6-3 victory over the visiting St. FX X-Men tonight at the AUC in a game that they never trailed. More importantly, the V-Reds have also clinched a berth at the University Cup in Halifax next month, returning to the tournament after a one year absence. 

UNB got on the board first just 6:41 into the contest when Alex Wall circled behind the X-Men goal, back out to the blue line, and then found Dana Fraser near the St. FX bench for a shot that got past Drew Owsley. Philippe Halley, who had to perform some painful looking acrobatics to keep the play onside, received a much deserved secondary assist on the goal. A potential turning point occurred just under three minutes later when Brad Cuzner was given a 5-minute major and game misconduct for charging against Halley, which sent the V-Red forward to the dressing room for the rest of the period. With a chance to put the game away early the opportunity turned out to be a nightmare as not only did UNB fail to generate much in the way of offense, the X-Men tied the game on a breakaway goal just under the crossbar by Adam Stevens at 12:51. However, in a series that has been defined by the X-Men's quick response offense it was the V-Reds who answered only 1:09 later when Philippe Maillet (Braes, Suellentrop) was camped in front and took a nice pass from behind the net from Braes and quickly put it 5-hole on Owsley. The physical period continued to take its toll on UNB as defenseman Adrian Robertson took a hard, legal hit into the boards behind his own net and never returned. The period would end with UNB leading 2-1 and holding a 15-6 advantage in shots.

The V-Reds were able to extend their lead 4:21 into the 2nd period when Randy Gazzola flipped the puck out of his own end and found Matt Boudens, who was joined by Dylan Willick as well as Cameron Critchlow, who just stepped out of the penalty box, for a 3-on-1 that was executed to perfection. Boudens patiently waited as Willick drove the net and took the defenceman out of the play before sliding a pass across to Critchlow for the one-timer goal. The X-Men once again had a quick answer. After UNB iced the puck St. FX won the ensuing face-off and only seconds later ex-Saint John Sea Dog Michael Kirkpatrick roofed the puck up and over David Shantz's shoulder. The goal cut the lead to 3-2 just 90 seconds after UNB scored. The V-Reds were able to restore their two goal lead at 9:27 thanks to a persistent shift by the top line. After a number of opportunities from in close in quick succession it was Halley (Maillet, Gazzola) who was finally able to slide the puck past a sprawling Owsley for the "garbage" goal. As we have seen time and time again, the X-Men would not go down easily. They once again made it a one goal game at 15:11 when Gabriel O'Connor flipped the puck into the top right corner from in close. That would finally be the end of the scoring in a period in which UNB out-shot St. FX 13-8.

As expected, the 3rd period proved to be nerve-wracking, even as UNB held the territorial advantage and controlled the puck the majority of the time. They were finally rewarded at 10:02 after a great forecheck by Chris Caissy forced a turnover behind the X-Men net. He skated out in front and threw a pass across the crease to Matt Boudens. Even though Boudens had a defender draped all over him he was able to find the puck and backhand it into the net before Owsley could get across to make it 5-3. The V-Reds successfully killed a penalty a few minutes later in what proved to be the X-Men's last great opportunity to get back into the game. St. FX pulled Owsley with a couple minutes remaining but it quickly backfired when Rob Mignardi chipped the puck out to Dylan Willick in the neutral zone. Willick only had one defender in front of him and a quick move to go wide gave him a clear shooting lane. He made no mistake in finding the empty cage from just outside of the blue line. Shots favoured UNB 12-7 in the period and 40-21 in the game.

- UNB made a few line-up changes for the game. R.D. Chisholm replaced Matt Petgrave and Rob Mignardi returned from his one game suspension, replacing Francis Beauvillier. Peter Trainor was once again out.

- Boudens, Wall, and Halley were the game's three stars.

- After a slow start to the series the top line of Fraser, Maillet, and Halley all had a goal in the game. They combined for 5 points on the night.

- UNB won 40 out of 70 face-offs with Willick winning 14 out of the 21 he took.

- Robertson did return to the ice at the end of the game for the celebration.

- Attendance was 3011.

- UNB went 0 for 2 on the power play. Although they struggled mightily with the man advantage in the series (2 for 21 with both goals coming in the first game), they were absolutely outstanding in shutting down St. FX's power play. The V-Reds killed off all 6 X-Men power plays tonight and only allowed one goal on 21 chances in the series.

- UNB out-shot St. FX 177-100 in the series.

- The V-Reds opponent in the best-of-3 AUS Final will be the Acadia Axemen. Acadia defeated Saint Mary's 3-2 in game 5 of their series tonight in Wolfville to also clinch a berth in the University Cup.

- It is a fitting match-up as the teams finished 1st and 2nd in the regular season this year. Acadia took 3 out of the 4 meetings with 3 of the games going to overtime.

- Before tonight there had been only 4 series in AUS history go to a 5th and deciding game. Interestingly, in all four previous instances the 5th game went into overtime with the home team only winning once (UNB against St. FX in 2011).

- It appears that game 1 of the AUS Final will be Monday night at the AUC. Game 2 will be Wednesday in Wolfville and game 3, if necessary, will be Friday night back in Fredericton. All games are scheduled for 7PM puck drop.

Monday, February 23, 2015

UNB In Winner Take All Games

On Thursday night the Varsity Reds and St. FX X-Men will face-off in the 5th and deciding game of their semi-finals series. Since Gardiner MacDougall became UNB's head coach they have played in 7 such games, compiling a record of 5-2 (4-1 at home). Here is the breakdown:

2013: Defeated Saint Mary's 2-0 in game 3 of Finals
2011: Defeated St. FX 5-4 OT in game 5 of  Finals
2009: Lost 5-1 to Saint Mary's in game 3 of  Finals
2006: Defeated St. FX 9-3 in game 3 of Quarter-finals
2003: Defeated St. Thomas 4-1 in game 3 of Semi-finals
2001: Lost to St. FX 5-4 OT2 in game 3 of Semi-finals.
2001: Defeated Acadia 3-1 in game 3 of Quarter-finals

X-Men Force Game 5

The St. FX X-Men staved off elimination for a second straight night with a 4-2 victory over the visiting University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds tonight in Antigonish. The best-of-5 semi-final series is now tied at two games apiece.

The stories of the game was the play of X-Men goaltender Drew Owsley (39 saves), the X-Men penalty killing (5 for 5 with a number of blocked shots), and the X-Men's ability to quickly counter each time UNB scored (scored two minutes after the V-Reds tied the game at 1 and then 1:31 after UNB tied it 2-2).

St. FX scored the only goal of the 1st period courtesy Steve Kuhn just 2:30 into the game. That's how the game would stand until Chris Caissy (Murray, Suellentrop) tied it 3:21 into the 2nd period with his first goal of the year. As mentioned, the X-Men responded only two minutes later to retake the lead. At 16:59 the V-Reds tied it again when Dana Fraser (Maillet, MacDougall) was all alone in the slot to snap the puck past Owsley, but the X-Men answered with what turned out to be the game winning goal at 18:30 of the period. Michael Kirkpatrick added some insurance with a beautiful shot off the cross-bar and in 7:44 into the 3rd period. 

- Shots in the game were 41-14 for UNB with period totals of 10-6, 13-5, 18-3.

- Chris Caissy replaced Rob Mignardi (suspension due to 10 minute misconduct last night) in the line-up. Peter Trainor and R.D. Chisholm remained out.

- St. FX blocked 21 shots in the game to 9 for UNB.

- This is the 2nd straight playoff series between these two teams that has gone the full 5 games. In 2011 UNB defeated St. FX 5-4 in OT in game 5 to win the AUS Championship. UNB fans will hope for a similar result Thursday night.

- That series was the only 5 game series UNB has played in under Gardiner MacDougall, and their only one since at least since 1982 when records became available.

- St. FX has won 7 out of their last 12 playoff games against UNB dating back to 2010.

- The other semi-final series resumes tomorrow night in Halifax as Saint Mary's tries to finish off the Acadia Axemen. The Huskies won 4-0 last night to go up 2 game to 1 in the series.

- Game 5 goes 7PM Thursday night at the AUC.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

X-Men Push Series To Game 4

The University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds failed to close out the St. FX X-Men in game 3 of their best-of-5 semi-final series as they dropped a 3-1 decision tonight in Antigonish.They now lead the series 2 games to 1.

Philippe Halley (Carroll, Petgrave) gave the V-Reds a 1-0 lead at 17:19 of the 1st period, but Ted Stephens tied the game shortly afterwards, with 51 seconds left in the period, and Michael Kirkpatrick gave the X-Men a lead they would never relinquish just 1:07 into the 2nd period. An empty net goal by Eric Locke in the final minute rounded out the scoring.

Shots in the game favoured UNB 20-18, although they never really got much going offensively until the latter part of the 3rd period.

The turning point in the game may have been late in the 2nd period when UNB received a 4 minute power play. Not only did they fail to score, they didn't generate a single shot on goal as the Varsity Reds power play was underwhelming for the 2nd consecutive game.

UNB will get another chance to finish the series tomorrow night back in Antigonish. Game time is 7PM.

Friday, February 20, 2015

V-Reds Go Up 2-0

The University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds now lead their best-of-5 AUS semi-final series against the St. FX X-Men 2-0 after eking out a 2-1 victory tonight at the AUC. With the win the V-Reds move within one win of a berth in the AUS Finals and, more importantly, the University Cup.

The game played out completely opposite to last night's 5-2 UNB win that featured a combined 76 shots on goal. The X-Men played the frustrating style that we are more accustomed to seeing from them, limiting UNB's time, space, and scoring chances. After a scoreless first period in which UNB held a 9-6 advantage in shots the V-Reds didn't generate a shot on net for about the first 5 minutes of the 2nd period. They finally broke through at 8:26 when Jordan Murray (Brace, Willick) received a pass from the side boards as he was streaking in from the blue line unnoticed. Murray quickly closed in on X-Men goalie Drew Owsley before ripping a shot off the crossbar and in. The V-Reds would take the 1-0 lead into the 2nd intermission, despite out-shooting St. FX 14-4 in the period. The 3rd period began similarly to the 2nd for UNB as they failed to get a shot on net until there were just over 10 minutes to play. To make matters worse, the X-Men tied the game at 5:57 just after their power play expired when Ted Stephens jammed the puck past David Shantz during a goal-mouth scramble. However, the Varsity Reds were not to be denied on this night and Cameron Brace (Carroll, Braes) scored what proved to be the game winner at 11:41 when he entered the X-Men zone, cut across the ice, and took a shot that grazed a defender just enough to flutter past a fooled Owsley. It was one that the X-Men goalie would undoubtedly like to have back. St. FX pressed for the tying goal, pulling Owsley with 1:06 remaining, but even though they held the puck in UNB's zone for the majority of the time they failed to create anything dangerous. Shots in the period favoured the X-Men 9-5 though UNB held the advantage in the game 28-19.

- UNB went with the exact same line-up as last night, meaning Peter Trainor, R.D. Chisholm, and Chris Caissey were scratched.

- The X-Men were without defenceman Trey Lewis (suspended for his 5 minute major for checking from behind last night) and leading goal scorer Blake Gal (suspended after picking up his 3rd 10-minute misconduct of the season last night). They have also been without forward Cole Grbavec (9 goals, 5 assists this season) for both game thus far after he was injured against UPEI.

- Neither team was particularly effective on the power play with UNB going scoreless on 4 chances and St. FX on 5.

- Brace, Murray, and Dylan Willick were the game's three stars.

- David Shantz was solid once again in net for the V-Reds, including making a couple of saves on breakaway.

- UNB won 34 out of the 64 face-offs in the game. Dylan Willick had the best night, winning 9 out of 14 draws.

- Attendance was 2662.

 - Matt Petgrave's hip check on X-Men Steven Kuhn last night received some attention from both TSN and The Hockey News today.

- The V-Reds will look to wrap up the series on Sunday night when it moves to Antigonish for game 3. Game time is 7PM and can be seen on www.AUStv.ca. The other series between Acadia and Saint Mary's will also resume that night in Halifax.

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.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Semi-Final Schedule Announced

The AUS has released the schedule for the UNB and St. FX series.

Game 1: Thursday, February 19th at UNB
Game 2: Friday, February 20th at UNB
Game 3: Sunday, February 22nd at St. FX
Game 4: Monday, February 23rd at St. FX (if necessary)
Game 5: Thursday, February 26th at UNB (if necessary)

If the Varsity Reds win they will guarantee themselves a spot at the University Cup next month in Halifax. However, since the AUS has 3 spots at this year's tournament and St. FX has an automatic berth as the tournament host, even if UNB loses this series they will get a 2nd chance and face the other semi-final loser for the 3rd and final spot.

V-Reds, X-Men To Renew Rivalry

When the Varsity Reds begin their quest for the AUS title later this week the first team standing in their way will be a familiar opponent - the St. FX X-Men. This will be the 8th time the two teams have met in the playoffs since 2000-2001, the most common playoff opponent for the V-Reds during that span. UNB has gone 14-10 (10-3 at home, 4-7 on road) in winning 5 out of the previous 7 series.

Here is the breakdown:

2000-2001: Lost 2 game to 1 in semi-finals
2002-2003: Won 3 game to 1 in finals
2004-2005: Won 2 games to 0 in quarter-finals
2005-2006: Won 2 games to 1 in quarter-finals
2006-2007: Won 3 games to 1 in semi-finals
2009-2010: Lost 3 games to 0 in semi-finals
2010-2011: Won 3 games to 2 in finals

Of course, none of that has any bearing on the next two weeks. More importantly, the Varsity Reds (22-4-2) won all four of the match-ups with the 4th ranked X-Men (17-9-2) this year, winning 5-2 on October 18th and 3-0 on January 16th at the AUC and 3-2 on October 31st and 3-2 in overtime on November 22nd in Antigonish.

A few key stats and facts to keep in mind this series:

- The X-Men only ranked 5th in the league with 84 goals scored (to UNB's 118), but they were 2nd in the league in goals allowed with 61 (to UNB's 60).
- St. FX led the league with a 0.921 save percentage.
- Starting goaltender Drew Owsley led the league in games (24) and minutes (1445) played while finishing 2nd in the league with a 2.28 GAA and 3rd with a 0.917 save percentage.
- The X-Men received the most power play opportunities in the league (157) and scored 31 power play goals, which accounted for 37% of their total goals scored.
- Defenceman Blake Gal tied for the league lead in goals by a d-man with 11, including 6 on the power play (t-3rd amongst all skaters).
- They led the league in fewest shorthanded goals against (17), fewest times shorthanded (125), and penalty killing percentage (86.4%).
- Michael Kirkpatrick led the team in scoring with 34 points (9 goals, 25 assists), but their next highest scorer was Robert Slaney with only 20 points (10 goals, 10 assists). They only had 11 players reach double digits in points.
- By comparison, UNB had 6 players reach the 20 point plateau and 16 players hit at least 10 points.

I expect the V-Reds to carry the majority of play and hold an advantage in shots on goal this series but, like is so often the case, it appears that special teams and goaltending will play a major role in this series. We have seen the X-Men win numerous games, despite getting out-played and out-shot by a considerable margin, by taking advantage of limited opportunities and getting a few lucky bounces and then clamping down defensively. The V-Reds out-shot the X-Men 141-68 this year while out-scoring them 14-6. They did manage a good number of power play opportunities (22), but only converted 4 times for an 18% success rate. They held the X-Men power play in check however, only allowing 3 goals on 26 chances (88.4%). The Varsity Reds would be wise to stay out of the penalty box this series and if they do that and are able to at least keep the special teams even, like they did in their 4 regular season match-ups, I like their chances in what should be a very close series.

PREDICTION: UNB in 4


Your Prediction?

UNB in 3
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St. FX in 3
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News And Notes: AUS Semi-Finals Set, Winter Universiade, Maillet

- Both AUS quarter-finals have been completed and we now know the semi-finals match-ups. On Friday night St. FX completed a sweep of UPEI with a 3-1 victory in Charlottetown. In the other series Moncton pushed Saint Mary's to a 3rd and deciding game after winning 5-1 in Moncton on Thursday night, but the Huskies rallied from a 2-1 3rd period deficit to defeat the Aigles Bleus 3-2 last night to advance. These results mean the Varsity Reds will play St. FX and Acadia will play Saint Mary's in the best-of-5 semi-finals. We will have more info once the official schedule has been announced.

- Team Canada suffered a tough 3-2 shootout loss to eventual gold medal winners Russia in the semi-finals at the Winter Universiade on Friday afternoon. The team, made up of all-stars from the Canada West conference, rebounded with a 6-2 victory over the Czech Republic yesterday to capture the bronze medal.

- The accolades keep rolling in for Varsity Reds forward Philippe Maillet. After being named the UNB Athlete of the Week last week, he has been named the Varsity Reds Athlete of the Month. Check out an interview with him here.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

2014 - 2015 By The Numbers

It was yet another successful regular season for the Varsity Reds, finishing in 1st place in the AUS for an 8th straight year thanks to a 22-4-2 record. Here is how this year's edition compared to the other teams in the league as well as with previous V-Reds squads.

- This was the 8th straight year they have won at least 20 games and the 6th time in that span they have reached 22 victories. They are 186-28-10 since the beginning of the 2007-2008 season, good for an 0.853 winning percentage.

- With a 12-1-1 home record it marks the 11th time in 12 years they reached double digits in home wins. It is the 8th straight year they have accumulated at least 11 wins on home ice, posting a 99-10-3 (0.897) record during that time.

- They went 10-3-1 on the road, the 3rd straight year and 6th time in 8 years they won at least 10 games away from the AUC.

- The V-Reds also continued to be a 2nd half team as their 12-2-0 record this year marked the 3rd straight year and 6th time in 8 years they had a better record in the 2nd half of the season than the 1st.

- For the 6th straight year the V-Reds led the AUS in goals scored (118). They have finished in the top-2 in goals scored every season since 2003-2004.

- After finishing 2nd last year in goals allowed, breaking a streak of 6 straight years leading the league, UNB was once again the leader this year with only 61 goals given up.

- UNB scored 61 goals at home this year, their most since scoring 62 in 2011-2012.

- The V-Reds gave up 12 goals in the 3rd period, the 4th straight year that has been their stingiest period. It is also tied with the 2010-2011 team for the fewest goals they have allowed in a 3rd period in at least the last 9 seasons.

- However, the 29 goals allowed in 2nd periods this year was their worst defensive period since allowing 37 2nd period goals in 2006-2007.

- UNB's 4 overtime wins were their most since also having 4 in 2008-2009 and 2009-2010.

- The Varsity Reds recorded 1.83 assists per goal this year, their highest ratio since a 1.89 mark in 2008-2009.

- Their +57 goal differential was the best since the +71 mark achieved in 2010-2011. It is the 8th straight year they have led the league in this category. UNB has now scored a staggering 510 more goals than they have allowed over the last 8 years. However, it is evident that the gap has shrunk between them and the rest of the competition recently as they were a +302 for the 4 seasons from 2007-2008 to 2010-2011 and +208 for the 4 seasons from 2011-2012 to 2014-2015.

- This year was the 1st time in 3 years UNB led the league in shots on goal. They averaged 36.4 shots per game, highest since having 36.8 in 2010-2011.

- The Varsity Reds led the league in fewest shots allowed per game for the 8th straight year, surrendering just 22.3 per contest. They only allowed 30+ shots in game twice all year (32 at Acadia on October 24th and 32 at Moncton on January 11th).

- They out-shot the opposition by an average of 14.1 shots per game, highest since 2010-2011 (14.9/game). They were out-shot only 2 times all season (29-28 at Saint Mary's on November 21st and 29-20 at Acadia on January 24th).

- UNB scored 28 power play goals this year (4th in the AUS), tied for the most they have had in the last 4 seasons. Their 146 opportunities mark the 3rd straight year they finished 3rd in the AUS in that category.

- Interestingly, the number of play play opportunities in the AUS has gone down significantly in recent years. For the 3 years from 2006-2007 to 2008-2009 UNB had 200, 165, and 164 power play chances and only ranked 8th, 7th, and 6th respectively compared to other teams in the league. In 2010-2011 they had a similar number of chances (166), yet led the league. In the last 3 years the league leader has had 160, 172, and 157 man advantages.

- The Varsity Reds had a 19.2 success rate on the power play this year. It was their highest in 5 years, but still only ranked 4th in the league. UNB has not had a power play ranked higher than 3rd in that stretch.

- UNB was 2nd in the league in giving up only 1 shorthanded goal, their best showing in 6 years.

- The Varsity Reds finished 2nd in the conference in power play goals allowed (22) and penalty killing percentage (84.3), although both of those marks are worse than last year (20 and 87.7), when they finished 3rd in each category.

- For the 8th straight year UNB was at least top-2 in shorthanded goals scored. Their 4 this year (tied for 2nd in the league, but their lowest in 6 years) brings their total to 57 in those 8 years.

- UNB's 0.904 save percentage (3rd in the AUS) is the 3rd straight year, and 5th time in 6 years, they have been over 0.900. It is their highest since posting an absurd 0.930 mark in 2010-2011.

- For the 8th time in 9 years the Varsity Reds at least tied for the league lead in shutouts, finishing tied for the top spot this year with 3. They now have 27 since the 2006-2007 season.

- The Varsity Reds were the 3rd most penalized team in the league this year, averaging 20.9 penalty minutes per game. This is the 5th time in 6 years they have ranked in the bottom half of the league.

- The V-Reds won 54.9% of their face-offs this year, up from the 52.9% mark of last year.

- UNB only averaged 2298 in attendance this season, the worst mark they have posted since the stat became available in 2006-2007 and the 3rd straight year they have seen a decline. It is a far cry from the 2712 they averaged per game for the 3 years from 2009-2010 to 2011-2012.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

News And Notes: AUS Playoffs Underway, Universiade, Top Ten

- The AUS playoffs kicked off last night in Halifax with the 3rd ranked Saint Mary's Huskies defeating 6th ranked Moncton 2-0. Stephen Johnston scored both goals and Anthony Peters turned aside all 34 shots he faced to pick up the shut-out. The series resume tomorrow night in Moncton as the Huskies look to close out the series. Meanwhile, tonight in Antigonish the 4th ranked St. FX X-Men recovered from blowing a 2-0 lead to fend off 5th ranked UPEI 4-2. Kristoff Kontos scored the game winning goal with just over 8 minutes remaining while Brad Cuzner added an empty netter. The series will now shift to Charlottetown for game 2 on Friday night.

- Team Canada is moving on to the semi-finals at the Winter Universiade after defeating the USA 4-0 earlier today. University of Saskatchewan goaltender Ryan Holfeld stopped 20 shots for the shutout and University of Alberta forward Kruise Reddick scored two goals. Canada fired 42 shots on goal, including 21 in the final period when they scored two goals to put the game away. Canada will now move on to face Russia on Friday with a berth in the championship game on the line.

- The latest men's hockey rankings were released yesterday and they are unchanged from last week. Alberta picked up all 16 1st place votes while the Varsity Reds received all but one of the 2nd place votes. The complete rankings can be found below.

(regular season record) / votes (first-place votes) / (previous ranking)
1. Alberta (24-3-1) / 160 points (16) / (1)
2. UNB (22-4-2) / 143 / (2)
3. Acadia (20-5-3) / 121 / (3)
4. Calgary (20-8-0) / 107 / (4)
5. Saint Mary’s (20-7-1) / 90 / (5)
6. McGill (21-5-0) / 87 / (6)
7. Windsor (22-4-1) / 70 / (7)
8. UQTR (19-4-3) / 41 / (8)
9. Carleton (20-5-1) / 33 / (9)
10. Mount Royal (17-10-1) / 16 / (10)

Other teams receiving votes: StFX (9), Western (3).

Monday, February 9, 2015

1st Annual Reader's Choice Awards

With the Varsity Reds idle until next week we thought it might be fun to pass the time by handing out some virtual hardware with you, the readers, deciding the winners. Thus, the 1st Annual Reader's Choice Awards:

Team MVP

Philippe Maillet (AUS leading 39 points, +17)
Philippe Halley (11 goals, 15 assists, +18, 3 GWG)
Cam Braes (7 goals, 17 assists, +13, 2 GWG)
Randy Gazzola (2nd in D-men scoring with 24 points, 2nd in conference with a +22 rating)
Jordan Murray (3rd in D-men scoring with 23 points, +19)
David Shantz (AUS leading 18 wins, 2.24 GAA, .897 save %)
Poll Maker

Top Forward

Philippe Maillet
Philippe Halley
Cam Braes
Tyler Carroll (6 goals, 10 assists in only 14 games)
Dana Fraser (10 goals, 4 assists in 12 games after joining team)
Poll Maker

Top Defenceman

Randy Gazzola
Jordan Murray
Adrian Robertson (2 goals, 13 assists, AUS-leading +24)
Matt Petgrave (1 goal, 14 assists)
Alex Wall (3 goals, 5 assists in only 11 games)
Poll Maker

Top Goalie

David Shantx (18-3-2, 2.24 GAA, .897 save % in 1392 minutes)
Chris Carrozzi (4-1-0, 1.61 GAA, .932 save % in 298 minutes)
Poll Maker

Top Rookie (1st Year of Eligibility)

Randy Gazzola
Cameron Brace (9 goals, 14 assists, 3 PPG, +8 in 28 games)
Peter Trainor (8 goals, 11 assists, 5 PPG, +9 in 28 games)
Matt Boudens (4 goals, 8 assists, +11 in 23 games)
Colin Suellentrop (1 goal, 6 assists, +8 in 26 games)
Poll Maker

Top Defensive Forward

Dylan Willick
Taylor MacDougall
Cam Braes
Matt Boudens
Cameron Critchlow
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Unsung Hero

Dylan Willick
Taylor MacDougall
Rob Mignardi
Philippe Halley
R.D. Chisholm
Dana Fraser
Poll Maker

Fan Favourite

Philippe Maillet
Philippe Halley
Randy Gazzola
Jordan Murray
Cam Braes
Matt Petgrave
Alex Wall
Cameron Brace
Tyler Carroll
Cameron Critchlow
Adrian Robertson
Dylan Willick
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