The #1 ranked University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds found themselves in a tight contest with the visiting York Lions tonight, but struck for three late goals en route to a 6-3 victory in the first game of the 12th annual Peterbilt Pete Kelly Cup.
The Varsity Reds have dominated OUA competition in recent years and it looked like the trend would continue when Philippe Halley (Maillet, Braes) banged in a cross-crease pass from the side of the net on UNB's first shot of the game just 1:41 in. However, just under three minutes later the Lions would even the score after Trevor Petersen made a nice toe-drag around the stick of a defender before ripping a wrist shot past the out-stretched glove hand of Etienne Marcoux and into the top right corner. The V-Reds restored their lead at 15:24 after a lucky bounce off the end boards came to Christopher Clapperton at the side of the net. He quickly found Maillet who put it into a wide open net before goaltender Mack Shields was able to scramble back into position. Braes recorded his second assist of the night on the goal. Shots in the period were 15-6 for UNB.
The two teams exchanged goals in the middle frame with the Lions holding a 13-8 advantage in shots. Maillet gave UNB a 3-1 lead at 9:53 with his second of the night after taking a breakaway pass through the middle of the neutral zone from Matt Murphy. York responded late in the period while on the power play to get back within a goal when Tyler Mort blasted in a slap shot from the blue line at 19:36.
The Lions knotted the game 4:29 into the third period with another power play goal. Colton Vannucci got the puck all alone in front of the net and fired a quick snap shot between Marcoux's legs. The Varsity Reds would dominate the period, but the score would remain deadlocked 3-3 until the 15:35 mark when Randy Gazzola's (Mignardi, Clapperton) point shot found it's way through traffic. Just 58 seconds later Maillet (Braes) came down the left wing and completed his hat-trick with a snipe into the short side top corner to make it a 5-3 game. The Lions pulled their goalie in a desperate attempt to get back in the game, but the strategy quickly backfired as Francis Beauvillier (Gazzola) won a race for a loose puck in the offensive zone and found the empty net at 17:27 to make it 6-3 and complete the scoring. Shots in the period favoured UNB 20-3.
- Oliver Cooper and Peter Trainor were the lone scratches for UNB.
- The Lions were missing their top player in defenceman Derek Sheppard. Sheppard, who has 23 points in 18 games thus far this season, is participating in an evaluation camp for OUA players in hopes of representing Team Canada at the upcoming FISU Games.
- The V-Reds have added former St. Thomas goalie Luke-Lee Knight as their 3rd goaltender.
- Shots in the game were 43-22 for UNB.
- Face-offs were 37-26 for the V-Reds.
- York scored on two of their three power plays. UNB was 0 for 4 with the man advantage.
- Maillet (3 goals, 1 assist) was named the UNB player of the game after continuing his recent torrid stretch. He has 11 points in his last three games. Colton Vannucci (1 goal) earned player of the game honours for York.
- Attendance was 1639.
- The Varsity Reds hit no less than 4 posts in the game.
- UNB has now won 35 straight exhibition games against OUA competition. They are on a 47-1-0 streak overall (exhibition + Nationals) against OUA teams dating back to 2004.
- The two teams are back at it at 7PM tomorrow night for the final game of the Pete Kelly Cup.