The AUS-leading and USports #1 ranked University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds extended their undefeated streak to nine straight games to open the regular season with a convincing 5-1 win over the visiting Acadia Axemen tonight at the AUC. UNB moves to 7-0-2 on the season while Acadia falls to 4th place with a 5-4-0 record.
The Varsity Reds scored the lone goal of the opening period on their first shot of the game thanks to Mike Thomas and a horrendous Axemen turnover in their own end. An Acadia forward attempted to clear the puck from his own corner by passing it across the offensive zone which Thomas, charging in from the neutral zone, promptly intercepted just inside the blue line before blasting a shot past goalie Brandon Glover. UNB out-shot the Axemen 7-5 in the period.
The majority of the offense in this one came in the 2nd period with four goals being scored. The V-Reds managed to extend their lead just 42 seconds into the period while on the power play when Cameron Brace (Murray, Maillet) gathered the puck near the right circle and waited just long enough for a screen to form in front before unleashing a wrist shot along the ice that evaded the traffic and found the back of the net. The Axemen responded only 87 seconds later when a rush up the ice resulted in goaltender Alex Dubeau being taken out of the play after a couple players crashed the net. The puck came out front to Alexander Lepkowski and he had no trouble putting it in to the yawning cage. This was as close as Acadia would get, however, as UNB answered twice more before the end of the period. At 6:35 Stephen Anderson (Willick, McIvor) picked up a loose puck in the crease and was able to sweep it between Glover's legs and then at 16:41 Cam Braes scored the prettiest goal of the night after some nifty passing. Jordan Murray gained control of the puck near the UNB bench after an offensive zone face-off win and quickly zipped it across the ice to Philippe Maillet at the far boards. Maillet then found Braes at the side of the net for an easy tap-in and a 4-1 lead. UNB held an 11-9 shot advantage in the period.
Despite trailing, the Axemen were never a threat in the 3rd as they took a total of four penalties in the period. The Varsity Reds took advantage on their 2nd opportunity when Dubeau made a long stretch pass from his own goal up to Maillet at the Axemen blueline. Maillet patiently waited for Braes to split two defenders before feathering him a pass, sending the 5th year senior in all alone. Braes went forehand to backhand, beating Glover up high to give UNB a 5-1 lead and round out the scoring. Shots in the period were 9-6 for UNB.
- Francis Beauvillier was back in the line-up after serving his suspension after last Friday night's game misconduct. Cameron Critchlow, Chris Clapperton, Oliver Cooper, and Peter Trainor were all scratched.
- Shots in the game ended up 27-20 for UNB, marking the first time they have failed to register at least 31 shots on goal in a game this season.
- Dubeau stopped 19 shots to improve to 3-0-1 on the year.
- Braes, Dubeau, and Lepkowski were named the game's three stars.
- Mike Thomas had an eventful evening. He scored a goal, took three minor penalties, drew another three penalties, and certainly had the attention of the Axemen all game long. He was buzzing around all night and definitely provided a spark and a ton of energy every time he was on the ice.
- Attendance was a solid 2140.
- UNB was 2 for 8 on the power play. The Axemen were 0 for 8 with the man advantage, which included a 5-on-3 chance in the 3rd period.
- The V-Reds held a slight 35-33 advantage on face-offs.
- Maillet's three assists give him an AUS-leading 18 points on the season. Murray and Braes are tied for 3rd with 16 points apiece.
- This is the third time in four years UNB has been undefeated through their first 9 regular season games. They began the season 8-0-1 last year as well as in 2013-2014.
- This is the first time since the 2012-2013 season the Varsity Reds have beaten the Axemen in the first half. They had previously lost 3-2 in a shootout and 4-3 in overtime last year, 4-3 in overtime twice in 2014, and 4-3 in a shootout and 5-1 in 2013.
- In other games around the AUS tonight, St. FX defeated Dalhousie 4-1 in Antigonish and Saint Mary's outlasted UPEI 8-6 in a wild one on the island.
- Tomorrow night the V-Reds are back on home ice as they welcome the Saint Mary's Huskies to town for a 7PM tilt.