Thursday, February 23, 2017

V-Reds Too Much For Shorthanded Huskies

The #1 ranked University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds did not show any signs of rust in their first playoff game after a first round bye as they were in complete control all game long in a 5-1 victory over the visiting Saint Mary's Huskies tonight at the AUC. UNB leads the best 3-of-5 semi-final 1 game to 0.

The Huskies, playing with only 15 skaters to begin the game, looked like a team who had just came off of a grueling playoff series and were playing a well-rested - and well-oiled - team in the first period. The V-Reds out-shot Saint Mary's 16-3 and struck for a pair of goals to quickly set the tone for the night. UNB got on the board 3:51 into the contest while shorthanded when noted playoff performer Philippe Halley (Petgrave) took a pass in the neutral zone and had a breakaway from the centre line. Halley made a move to get goaltender Erik Brassard moving from right to left and slid a backhanded shot along the ice between Brassard's legs. Things quickly went from bad to worse for the Huskies shortly after the goal when they lost their best defenceman Kyle Pereira for the game with an apparent lower body injury after he was the recipient of a Jordan Murray kneeing penalty. UNB was able to double the lead at 17:26 when Francis Beauvillier (Mignardi, Halley) finished off a nice cross-ice feed from Rob Mignardi by roofing the puck up and over Brassard's shoulder from just outside the crease.

Things didn't get any better for the visitors in the middle frame with the V-Reds holding a 15-5 shot advantage and striking for three more goals. Just 1:41 into the period Christopher Caissy (Gazzola) scored arguably the goal of the year when he picked up a loose puck in the neutral zone and stickhandled around and through the defence before roofing a backhanded shot into the top corner to make it 3-0. Just over 9 minutes later Beauvillier (Gazzola) scored his second of the game after he skated down the right side, got around a defender, and once again beat Brassard with a perfectly placed shot into the top corner on the short side. The V-Reds kept applying pressure and at 13:36 Cam Braes (McIvor, Maillet) was rewarded after a long shift in the offensive zone with a deflection of a Marcus McIvor blast from the point. Saint Mary's finally got on the board 80 seconds later on a bit of a confusing play as Francis Menard knocked the puck out of the air and in after Etienne Marcoux made the original stop. One referee originally waved off the goal, but the call was reversed and the goal stood. It proved to be much too little and much too late on this night for the Huskies. The two teams skated through a fairly uneventful final period with UNB out-shooting SMU 9-6.

- Cameron Brace, Mike Thomas, Oliver Cooper, and Peter Trainor were all scratched for UNB.

- In addition to Pereira, the Huskies also lost defenseman Adam Bateman in the 2nd period and he never returned, meaning they finished the game with only 13 out of 18 possible skaters.

- Final shots were 40-14.

- UNB also won 51 out of 78 face-offs with Dylan Willick (10 out of 12), Cam Braes (10 out of 17), and Mark Simpson (13 out of 19) all having excellent nights.

- If there was one thing to nitpick it was UNB's power play. They went 0 for 6 on the night. The penalty killing was superb, though. SMU was 0 for 5 with the man advantage.

- Marcoux stopped 13 out of 14 shots to improve his career postseason record to 7-2.

- Beauvillier, Halley, and Caissy were named the game's three stars.

- Here is Caissy's goal (courtesy Victor Findlay):

- Attendance was 2523.

- In game 1 of the other semi-final tonight, defenceman Cole MacDonald scored in double overtime to lift the visiting St. FX X-Men over the Acadia Axemen.

- The series resumes tomorrow night with the Varsity Reds looking to take a stranglehold on the series. Puck drop is scheduled for 7PM at the AUC.