The University of New Brunswick Varsity Red did not show much sign of rust in their first game in almost two weeks as they downed the visiting UPEI Panthers 4-1 tonight in game 1 of their best 3-of-5 semi-final series at the AUC.
UNB got on the board first at 6:02 of the opening period when Francis Beauvillier raced in all alone on a breakaway. His original shot was blocked aside by goaltender Mavric Parks, but Beauvillier collected the rebound and found Philippe Halley with a pass. Halley pushed the puck back to Matt Petgrave at the top of the face-off circle for a shot that was kicked out in the opposite direction by Parks. However, the rebound came right to the stick of Cameron Brace, who was waiting at the side of the net and wasted little time in sliding it in. The Panthers responded just over 3 and a half minutes later as Sam Aulie cleaned up a loose puck from just outside the crease to tie the game on what was just UPEI's second shot of the period up to that point. The teams would head to the dressing room tied with UNB holding a 17-7 shot advantage in the period.
The Varsity Reds got the only goal of the 2nd period at 8:51 as they converted just 26 seconds into their first power play opportunity of the game. The puck was worked around the offensive zone until it made its way to Philippe Maillet (Clapperton, Murray), who was all alone in the slot. Maillet unleashed a snap shot that Parks was able to get a piece of, but not enough of to prevent it from going in and giving the V-Reds a 2-1 lead. That proved to be the only scoring of the period even though UNB fired 19 shots on goal to the Panthers 6.
UNB was finally able to gain some breathing room 3:17 into the 3rd period. Francis Beauvillier (Murray, Brace) skated down the right side and used his speed to beat a defender wide in the offensive zone before cutting back towards the net and sliding the puck under Parks. A potential turning point occurred at 5:58 when captain Cam Critchlow was assessed a four minute penalty for spearing, giving the Panthers a golden opportunity to get back in the game. The V-Reds penalty killers responded in a big way, killing the first 2:33 of the penalty without so much letting the Panthers get set-up in the offensive zone. An interference penalty on goalie Parks negated the remaining 87 seconds and allowed UNB to escape unscathed. With just under three minutes remaining the Panthers took a penalty which basically put a nail in their coffin. They killed it off, but Beauvillier (Migardi) put the finishing touches on the victory with an empty net goal with 24 seconds remaining. Shots in the period were 8 apiece.
- Randy Gazzola, Chris Caissy, Peter Trainor, and Stephen Anderson were all out of the line-up tonight.
- Final shots on goal were 44-21 for UNB. The V-Reds had a fantastic game defensively, only getting pinned in their own zone for an extended period on a couple of occasions. Besides that, the Panthers weren't able to generate much.
- Etienne Marcoux got the start in goal and was stellar in his play-off debut.
- UNB was 1 for 5 on the power play while the Panthers were scoreless on four chances.
- The V-Reds dominated in the face-off circle, winning 41 out of 67 draws. Dylan Willick had his usual strong game, going 13 for 16.
- Attendance was 2838.
- There was a stretch between the 2nd and 3rd period where UNB had 15 consecutive shots.
- Beauvillier and Parks were named the player of the game for their respective team's.
- Dylan Willick had a great chance late in the 2nd period when he went in all alone on Parks. His shot hit the crossbar and, although the red light originally came on, it was determined that the puck stayed out.
- UNB is now 32-0-1 in their last 33 home games.
- The V-Reds have won 6 straight home playoff games, tied for their longest streak under Gardiner MacDougall.
- The other AUS semi-final got underway tonight in Antigonish. Drew Owsley and the St. FX X-Men blanked the Saint Mary's Huskies 2-0 to take game 1 on home ice.
- UNB will look to take a 2-0 stranglehold on the series when the series resumes tomorrow night at the AUC. Game time is 7PM. If you can't make it to the rink you can catch the action live at AUStv.ca.