Monday, February 20, 2017

AUS Semi-Final: #1 UNB vs. #4 Saint Mary's

The AUS and U Sports #1 ranked University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds will get their playoffs started this Thursday night when they welcome the AUS #4 ranked Saint Mary's Huskies to the AUC in game 1 of the best 3-of-5 semi-finals.

The Huskies are fresh off of a dramatic, hard fought three game series win over the UPEI Panthers in the quarter-finals. Rookie of the year favourite Hunter Garlent netted the series clinching goal with only 32 seconds remaining in regulation to propel Saint Mary's to the next round and a date with the V-Reds.

This series could prove to be tighter than most may predict as the Huskies were the only team to defeat UNB twice this season. However, home-ice advantage may prove to be the difference. Saint Mary's won both games in Halifax by a goal - 3-2 on November 26th and 4-3 in OT on January 13th - while UNB won each of the three games at the AUC by a comfortable margin - 5-0 on November 5th, 8-3 on December 2nd, and 5-2 on January 20th.

A few notes:

- The full series schedule is as follows:

Game 1 - Thursday, February 23th at UNB
Game 2 - Friday, February 24th at UNB
Game 3 - Monday, February 27th at SMU
Game 4 - Tuesday, February 28th at SMU (*if necessary)
Game 5 - Thursday, March 2nd at UNB (*if necessary)

- This marks the 6th playoff series between the two teams since Gardiner MacDougall became head coach.

- UNB has emerged victorious in 3 of the previous 5 series.

- UNB has won 8 out of 14 games, although the Huskies have won 6 out of the last 9.

- The V-Reds are 6-2 at the AUC and 2-4 at the Forum.

- Interestingly, the teams have combined for only 57 goals in the 14 playoff games. The average score has been 2.2 (UNB) - 1.9 (SMU).

- There have been five games that went to overtime.

- Only one of the previous series was a best 3-of-5.

- Here is the recent history:

2003: UNB defeated SMU 2 games to 0 (2-0, 3-1) in quarter-finals
2008: UNB defeated SMU 2 games to 0 (3-2 OT, 3-2 OT2) in finals
2009: SMU defeated UNB 2 games to 1 (1-5, 3-2, 5-1) in finals
2013: UNB defeated SMU 2 games to 1 (1-0 OT, 2-5, 2-0) in finals
2014: SMU defeated UNB 3 games to 1 (2-1 OT2, 2-5, 2-1 OT2, 1-0)

- The Huskies can guarantee themselves a berth at the University Cup with a series win. However, if they lose they will get another chance as they will play a series against the loser of the Acadia/St. FX to determine the conference's third entry into the tournament.

- Acadia and St. FX will follow the same schedule as UNB/SMU.

- Who do you got? Make your prediction below:

UNB/SMU - Who Wins?

UNB in 3
UNB in 4
UNB in 5
SMU in 3
SMU in 4
SMU in 5