Friday, February 26, 2016

V-Reds Overcome Panthers, Refs

The University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds surrendered a goal on the first shot they faced in the game and were assessed the last 10 penalties of the game (8 of which resulted in a power play), but it didn't matter as they persevered and defeated the visiting UPEI Panthers 5-2 tonight in an intense, physical, chippy game at the AUC. They now hold a 2-0 series lead and will look to wrap it up Monday night in Charlottetown.

UNB came out strong and were awarded a power play 3:40 into the game for their efforts. However, a turnover at the blue line led to Craig Maclauchlan getting a breakaway and beating Etienne Marcoux with a quick, perfectly placed snap shot over Marcoux's left shoulder 32 seconds into the man advantage. The V-Reds weren't fazed and kept the pressure on, but their numerous scoring chances were denied by Panthers goalie Mavric Parks. They finally broke through at 10:18 of the period when Mike Thomas (Petgrave, Critchlow) fired a hard shot along the ice from near the Panthers bench that eluded Parks. UNB was awarded their second power play of the night less than two minutes later and this time they converted. Jordan Murray worked his way to the middle of the blue line and his shot deflected off of a Panther defender, throwing off Park's timing just enough to allow the puck to sneak between his legs. Cam Braes and Philippe Maillet picked up the assists on the go-ahead goal, which was scored at 12:33. The V-Reds got into trouble under a minute later when two of their defencemen were sent to the penalty box 8 seconds apart, which was a sign of things to come. Things became even more dire when Murray broke his stick during the penalty kill, however Marcoux made a number of big saves to kill off the penalties and preserve the lead. UNB was given their 3rd - and last, as it turned out - power play opportunity of the game when Parks took his second penalty of the series at 19:09. UNB took that power play into the 2nd period after out-shooting UPEI 19-10 in the opening frame.

It only took 18 seconds of the 2nd period for the V-Reds to convert on the man advantage as Chris Clapperton (Murray, Braes) one-timed a shot from the bottom of the left face-off circle past Parks. That was when the fun began. UNB successfully killed off another 5-on-3 when they took penalties at 4:01 and 5:05. The parade to the penalty box continued and they went down two men for the third time of the night at 12:03, just 12 seconds after taking the first penalty. The third time wasn't a charm though, as Marcus Power banged in a rebound from in close to make it a 3-2 game at 12:52. Things became even more frustrating at 14:22 when Dylan Willick was given a 10-minute misconduct after expressing his displeasure about getting roughed up moments earlier with no call. Amid all of the penalties the V-Reds re-gained their two goal lead at 16:18 when a battle at the Panthers blue-line led to a 2-on-1 for UNB. Cameron Brace threw a saucer pass across the slot to Rob Mignardi and he stretched just enough to chip the puck over a sliding Parks and into the top of the net. The V-Reds took another penalty at 17:29 but killed it off and went to the dressing room with a 4-2 lead. Shots in the period favoured UNB 13-7.

The Panthers were gifted three more power plays in the 3rd period but were unable to convert on any of them. After Tyler Carroll took a roughing penalty at 16:32 UPEI pulled Parks to make it a 6-on-4, but Matt Boudens (Willick) fired a shot from his own zone that found the empty net for a shorthanded goal at 18:20. That rounded out the scoring in what was an eventful game. Shots in the period were 10-9 for UNB.

- The V-Reds went with the same line-up as last night with Gazzola, Caissy, Trainor, and Anderson all out.

- Shots in the game were 42-26 for UNB.

- Marcoux had another strong game in net, making a number of key saves throughout the night, most of which came on the penalty kill.

- UPEI was 1 for 10 on the power play. UNB was 2 for 3.

- The V-Reds were given 50 minutes in penalties to the Panthers 6. Francis Beauvillier and Dylan Willick each picked up 10-minute misconducts while Cam Brace was given a game misconduct in the 3rd period for, presumably, saying something the referees didn't agree with.

- As a result, Brace will most likely be suspended for Monday's game 3.

- Attendance was a raucous 3174.

- There were a whopping 90 face-offs in the game - a season-high - with the V-Reds only winning 42 of them. Willick was strong per usual (13 out of 21), but both Philippe Halley (1 for 8) and Taylor MacDougall (15 out of 34) had off-nights.

- MacDougall left the game briefly in the 1st period after taking a clearing attempt to his upper body. He only missed a few minutes before returning.

- Murray had an interesting night with his equipment. In addition to losing his stick while trying to kill off a 5-on-3in the 1st period, he also lost a skate blade while killing a penalty in the 2nd period.

- This is UNB's 7th straight home playoff win, their longest streak since at least 1967-1968, which is as far back as the records go.

- It is also their 5th straight playoff win overall, dating back to a game 4 loss to St. FX in last year's semi-finals.

- The other semi-final series between St. FX and Saint Mary's resumes tomorrow night in Antigonish. The X-Men currently lead the series 1-0 after a 2-0 win last night.

- The Varsity Reds will look to advance to the AUS Final, and clinch a berth in the University Cup, on Monday night when they travel to Charlottetown for game 3 of the series. Game time is 7PM. The game will be streamed live at AUStv.ca.