Friday, January 27, 2017

UNB Clinches 1st With Romp Over Panthers

For the 10th consecutive season the University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds have won not only 20 games but also the AUS regular season title, accomplishing both feats with a 7-1 thumping over the visiting UPEI Panthers in a feisty game on Military Appreciation Night at the AUC. UNB moves to 20-2-3 on the season, 9 points ahead of the 16-8-2 Acadia Axemen.

The V-Reds came out flying in this one, generating the game's first 8 shots on goal. They were rewarded at 6:38 when Mark Simpson (Critchlow, Thomas) followed up on the play after the original shot was stopped and jammed in a rebound past Panthers back-up goalie Michael Giugovaz. Despite being dominated early the Panthers tied the game on just their third shot at 11:35 after UPEI's leading goal scorer Cody Payne intercepted the puck in the neutral zone and went in all alone, beating Etienne Marcoux with a backhanded shot glove side for the equalizing tally. A Panthers penalty shortly after the goal snuffed out any potential momentum and put the vaunted Varsity Reds power play to work and, like usual, they capitalized as it took only 35 seconds for Rob Mignardi (Braes, Maillet) to flip the puck in from the side of the net. UNB held a 2-1 lead after twenty minutes, out-shooting UPEI 17-7 in the period.

UNB extended their lead in the middle period with the only goal of the frame. After extended offensive zone pressure Matt Petgrave (Maillet, Suellentrop) ripped a shot from the point through traffic that hit the post, deflected off Giugovaz, and went in. The goal came at 13:05 and made it 3-1, a lead that the V-Reds would take into the locker room. Shots in the period were 12-8 for UNB.

The V-Reds blew the game open early in the 3rd period thanks to some undisciplined play from the visitors. The Panthers took a four minute penalty at the end of the 2nd period and another penalty 48 seconds into the 3rd, which resulted in a 5-on-3 goal from Cam Braes (Caissy, Clapperton) at 2:01. After a UNB penalty evened things up, Dylan Willick (Murphy, Anderson) busted down the right wing before sliding the puck between Giugovaz's legs to make it 5-1 with a 4-on-4 goal at 3:45. Jordan Murray (Braes, Maillet), with a shot from the high slot, extended the lead to 6-1 at 6:32 and then Braes (Mignardi, Clapperton) capped the outburst with his second power play goal of the period at 8:20. The goal came during a five minute power play after the Panthers RT Rice was assessed a major penalty and game misconduct for contact to the head of Mike Thomas. Rice leveled Thomas with an ugly, blindside high hit in the neutral zone that clearly shook up the V-Reds forward to the point where he needed helped off the ice and never returned. UNB received two more power plays later in the period, including another two man advantage, but were unable to capitalize. However, it was a moot point by that time as the V-Reds skated to the 7-1 win. Shots in the period favoured UNB 15-3.

- Defenceman Colin Suellentrop returned to the line-up after missing a couple of games. Cam Brace served the final game of his four game suspension while Francis Beauvillier (injury), Oliver Cooper, and Peter Trainor were also out.

- Final shots were 44-18.

- Much like the last few games, Etienne Marcoux gave up an early goal only to lock it down the rest of the way. He also produced a save of the year candidate in the 3rd period after his stretch pass attempt from the side of his net was picked off in the slot by a Panthers forward. With a wide open net to shoot at it looked like a sure goal except, in the words of @UNBHockey, Marcoux pulled a "Henderson sliding into 2nd base head first" to block the shot.

- It is starting to sound like a broken record, but once again the Varsity Reds special teams had a big night. They went 3 for 8 on the power play and also killed off all four shorthanded situations. For the season UNB is operating at 29.2% with the man advantage and 92.3% while shorthanded. They have also currently killed off 25 straight penalties.

- The Panthers took 47 out of the 51 penalty minutes handed out in the 3rd period. They had 69 penalty minutes on 16 infractions in the game compared to just 26 minutes and 9 infractions by UNB.

- UNB won 39 out of 68 face-offs. Braes was 10 out of 11 in the dot.

- For the second straight year Cam Braes was named the recipient of the "Fallen Soldier Award" for being the player of the game. Marcoux and Mignardi were the 2nd and 3rd stars, respectively.

- Attendance was 2917, which included hundreds of members of the Canadian Armed Forces.

- UNB was sporting special edition "winter camo" jerseys for the occasion.

- By clinching the regular season title the Varsity Reds have guaranteed themselves a first round playoff bye as well as home-ice advantage throughout the playoffs.

- With three more assists tonight Philippe Maillet has opened up a seven point lead in the conference scoring race over Moncton's Allain Saulnier.

- Elsewhere around the AUS tonight Saint Mary's stunned St. FX with five goals in the last seven minutes to emerge with a 6-2 road win and, in Wolfville, Acadia defeated Dalhousie 5-2.

- The Varsity Reds travel to Moncton tomorrow night for a match-up with the Aigles Bleus. Game time is scheduled for 7PM.