Thursday, October 19, 2017

U Sports Top Ten (#2): Status Quo

The top five teams remain unchanged in the latest U Sports men's hockey rankings, with the defending champion UNB Varsity Reds holding down the top spot for the 19th time in the last 20 polls dating back to last season.

The V-Reds received 11 first place votes and 144 points to outpace Alberta (3 and 135), Saskatchewan (117), St. FX (1 and 107), and McGill (74). Calgary, Ryerson, Acadia, Saint Mary's, and Queen's make up the rest of the top ten.

This weekend may provide a shake-up to the rankings as there are match-ups between UNB/Acadia, UNB/Saint Mary's, Alberta/Calgary. and Queen's/Ryerson on the docket.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

UNB Remains Perfect

The University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds scored three times in both the second and third periods as they wore down the visiting UPEI Panthers in a 6-2 victory at the AUC last night. UNB improves to 4-0-0 on the season while the Panthers fall to 2-2-0.

- Although they were out-shot 16-6 in the opening twenty minutes, the Panthers jumped ahead 1-0 at 13:48. Marcus Power made a nice pass from the corner to find Kameron Kielly in front and the rookie had a tap-in goal past Rylan Parenteau.

- The V-Reds continued to dominate the possession and shot clock in the 2nd period and struck for a pair of goals in the early minutes. At 1:38 Oliver Cooper (Gazzola, Parenteau) carried the puck down the left side and snapped a quick shot off the rush that beat Matt Mahalak in the Panthers cage, tying the game 1-1. Then, just 2:20 later, some nice puck movement on the power play resulted in Christopher Clapperton (Boland, LeBlanc) having a wide open net to shoot at from the face-off circle. He buried the opportunity and UNB had a 2-1 lead. The V-Reds added another late in the period after Cameron Brace was hit with a high-stick that led to a four minute power play. It was Clapperton (Boland, Anderson) again doing the honours, blasting a shot from almost the exact same spot as his earlier goal that slipped between Mahalak's out-stretched leg and glove. UNB would take a 3-1 lead to the dressing room after out-shooting UPEI 18-6 in the period.

- The Varsity Reds extended the lead to 5-1 in the opening half of the 3rd period. At 3:13 Stephen Anderson (Clapperton, LeBlanc) took a pass from behind the net, had his initial shot stopped, but got his own rebound and held the puck long enough to get Mahalak down before flipping it up and over the Panthers goalie. Another scramble in front of the net at 9:18 of the period resulted in Mark Simpson (Brace, Cooper) getting credit for his first of the season after some persistent work down low. After Marcus Power cut the lead to 5-2 with a power play goal at 17:34, Matt Murphy (Boland) wrapped up the scoring at 19:36 when he took a face-off win and found the empty net from his own goal line. Shots in the period were 14-5 for the V-Reds.

- Tristan Pomerleau remained out of the line-up for UNB as he is dealing from being on the receiving end of a big hit last weekend against these same Panthers.

- Shots in the game were 48-17. The V-Reds have out-shot their opposition 177-64 through four games thus far.

- UNB was 2 for 7 on the power play while the Panthers went 1 for 5.

- The Varsity Reds won 48 out of 81 face-offs. Boland led the way with 13 wins on 20 draws.

- Clapperton (2 goals, 1 assist), LeBlanc (2 assists), and Power (1 goal, 1 assist) were the game's three stars.

- Rylan Parenteau picked up his first career victory in net.

- The game got off to an interesting start as a collision in the corner between Mike Thomas and a Panthers player just 30 seconds into the contest resulted in a pane of glass shattering, leading to a 10-15 minute delay as AUC staff worked to get it replaced.

- Attendance was 2473 on 'UNB Student Night', which helped make for a more lively atmosphere than usual. 

- UNB have won 27 consecutive regular season games at the AUC. Further, they are on a 38-0-1 run dating back to November of 2014 with the lone loss being a 3-2 shootout loss to Acadia on October 30th, 2015.

- Including exhibition/regular season/playoffs/Nationals, the V-Reds are 59-2-1 in their last 62 games played at the AUC. The only blemishes have been the aforementioned game against Acadia and playoff losses to St. FX in both 2016 (3-2) and 2017 (2-1).

- Saint Mary's doubled Dalhousie 4-2 in the only other game on the schedule last night. On  Friday night UPEI blew out Moncton 8-2 on the island, Acadia needed a shoot-out to get past Dalhousie 3-2 in Wolfville, and St. FX remained perfect with a 4-3 OT win on the road against Saint Mary's.

- UNB faces their biggest challenge of the early season next weekend as they make their first trek to Nova Scotia for a pair of games. On Friday night they are in Wolfville to face Acadia and on Saturday they head to Halifax to take on Saint Mary's. Both games are scheduled for a 7PM puck drop and can be seen on www.AUStv.ca.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

V-Reds Stymie Aigles Bleus

The University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds got an 18 save shutout performance from Alex Dubeau as they ran their record to 3-0-0 with a 2-0 road victory over the Universite de Moncton Aigles Bleus tonight.

- For the second consecutive game, the V-Reds were on the receiving end of a superb goaltending performance as it took them 28 minutes and 25 shots before they finally solved Brandon Thibeau. While on the power play, Cameron Brace found Chris Caissy streaking down the right side. Caissy gained a step on the defence and cut in all alone, beating Thibeau with a nice deke to give UNB the only goal they needed at 8:01 of the 2nd period.

- Randy Gazzola salted the game away with an unassisted goal from the neutral zone and into an empty net with 47 seconds remaining in the game.

- Shots in the game favoured UNB 47-18 with period totals of 18-6, 12-8, and 17-4.

- The Varsity Reds were 1 for 6 on the power play. Moncton was 0 for 5.

- UNB went 50 for 79 in the face-off circle. Mark Simpson had another strong game, winning 17 out of 23 draws.

- Matt Boudens was back in the line-up, but defencemen Tristan Pomerleau and Matt Murphy were out.

- This is Alex Dubeau's 4th career shut-out and first since 2015-2016.

- Brace had a game-high 10 shots on goal.

- Thibeau was named the player of the game after a 43 save performance.

- UNB has started the season 3-0-0 for the 4th time in 5 years. They went 2-0-1 in their first three games last season.

- The Varsity Reds have won 9 straight games against the Aigles Bleus, including 5 in a row in Moncton.

- UNB is on a 12 game regular season winning streak dating back to a 4-3 OT loss to SMU on January 16th.

- After coughing up a 4-0 lead last weekend to the Acadia Axemen, the St. FX X-Men squandered a 4-1 lead tonight to the Axmen only to once again recover and pull out a 5-4 victory in Antigonish.

- The  V-Reds are back on home ice this Saturday night when they welcome the UPEI Panthers to town. Game time is 7PM.

Anderson Picks Up Trio Of Awards

After scoring five goals in the first two games of the season, Varsity Reds forward Stephen Anderson was honoured this week by sweeping the UNB, AUS, and U Sports male athlete of the week awards.

Yesterday the 3rd year forward was awarded the UNB Varsity Reds/Papa John's Pizza male Athlete of the Week as well as the Subway AUS male Athlete of the Week. He capped off the hat-trick today by being named the U Sports male Athlete of the Week.

Anderson will try to continue his hot start this week when UNB travels to Moncton tonight before hosting UPEI on Saturday night at the AUC.

U Sports Top Ten (#1): UNB Starts On Top

U Sports released their first men's hockey top ten ranking of the season yesterday, and the Varsity Reds begin the campaign how they finished the 2016-2017 season - in the number one spot.

UNB collected 11 out of 15 first place votes for a total of 142 points to outpace the Alberta Golden Bears, who picked up two first place votes and 132 points. Making up the rest of the top ten are the Saskatchewan Huskies, St. FX X-Men, McGill Redmen, Acadia Axemen, Saint Mary's Huskies, Ryerson Rams, Calgary Dinos, and York Lions.

As is usually the case with the first rankings of the season, a number of teams received votes. This includes Queen's, UQTR, UBC, Laurier, Carleton, Guelph, Western, Concordia, and Ottawa.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Special Teams Key Victory

The University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds hit the road for the first time this season and used three power play goals and a shorthanded tally to get past the UPEI Panthers 5-3 tonight in Charlottetown.

Although UNB came out strong in the first period and out-shot the Panthers 12-5, it was the home team getting on the board first with the only goal of the period. After some sustained pressure following a power play by the Varsity Reds, UPEI was able to get the puck out of the zone and break out on a rush that ended with Sam Aulie sliding the puck past Alex Dubeau.

In the 2nd period the V-Reds played arguably their most dominant period in recent memory as they were credited with 24 shots on goal to the Panthers 2. However, Matt Mancina was up to the task, making a number of larcenous saves to keep it a 1-0 game. The game finally turned in UNB's favour when Filip Rydstrom was assessed a five minute major penalty at 14:39 for charging Colin Suellentrop, and for the second straight game the V-Reds were able to strike for a trio of late 2nd period goals to take control. At 15:22 Kris Bennett found Christopher Clapperton with a cross-ice pass. Clapperton's shot was stopped but Stephen Anderson collected the rebound in the slot and fired it into a wide open cage. Then, after a scramble in front of the net, Oliver Cooper (Gazzola, Brace) was in the right spot at the right time to clean up the garbage in the crease, tapping the puck into an open net at 18:04 to give UNB the lead. Anderson (Clapperton, McIvor) struck again for his second goal of the night - and fifth of the season - just five seconds after the major penalty expired at 19:44 when he picked the top right corner with a wrist shot off a rush, giving UNB a 3-1 lead that they would take into the intermission.

The V-Reds extended their lead just 2:08 into the 3rd period with another special teams goal, this time shorthanded. Kris Bennett stripped the puck from a Panthers player in the neutral zone and went in all alone on Mancina, beating him with a backhander between the legs to make it a 4-1 game. A goal from Kameron Kielly got UPEI back to within 4-2 at 8:01, but another five minute major penalty and subsequent power play goal from Cameron Brace (Gazzola, Dubeau), who skated through a couple of defenders before one handing the puck between Manicina's legs for an early goal of the year candidate, restored the three goal lead and pretty much sealed the game with 6:23 remaining. Panthers defenseman Ryan MacKinnon closed out the scoring at 17:16, depositing his own rebound at the side of the net. Shots in the period were 13-5 for UNB.

- Shots in the game favoured the V-Reds 49-12.

- Trey Lewis drew into the line-up, replacing Matt Boudens.

- UNB was 3 for 7 on the power play while UPEI was 0 for 4.

- Defenceman Tristan Pomerleau was visibly shaken up after being on the receiving end of Beau McCue's 5 minute charging major in the 3rd period. He needed helped off the ice and did not return.

- The V-Reds struggled all night in the face-off circle, losing 42 out of 70 face-offs in the game.

- Alex Dubeau received his second straight start in goal.

- Cooper and Bennett both scored their first career AUS goal.

- Although he was held off the score-sheet, Peter Trainor had a number of high quality chances only to be denied by Mancina each time.

- UNB improves to 9-0-1 in their last 10 games against UPEI.

- Elsewhere around the AUS tonight, the St. FX X-Men avoided disaster by defeating Acadia 5-4 in a shootout in Wolfville after blowing a 4-0 1st period lead and the Saint Mary's Huskies got past Dalhousie 4-1.

- UNB returns to the ice on Wednesday when they travel to Moncton to face the Aigles Bleus for a 7PM puck drop.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

V-Reds Get Season Started With Victory

The University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds raised their 7th National Championship banner to the rafters and then came out and used a late 2nd period flurry to pull away from the visiting Universite de Moncton Aigles Bleus in a 6-2 win tonight in the AUS regular season opener at the AUC. UNB has now won a remarkable 29 straight home openers and 7 straight season openers.

- The V-Reds got the season off to a quick start with a pair of goals in the opening half of the 1st period, both from Stephen Anderson. At 6:25 Anderson was stationed in front of the net where he was able to tip a Randy Gazzola wrist shot from the high slot. Christopher Clapperton also picked up an assist on the first goal of the USports season. He doubled the lead just 2:18 later at 8:43 when the puck bounced out from behind the net and he was able to backhand it into the corner from the lip of the crease. Gazzola and Tyler Boland - with his first career point - were awarded the assists. However, UNB was in penalty trouble all night and Moncton managed to capitalize when Jean-Sebastien Fournier blasted a slap shot from in close just as the first penalty of a lengthy 5-on-3 opportunity expired, cutting the lead in half. The V-Reds would take a 2-1 lead into the intermission with Moncton holding a 11-10 shot advantage.

- The Aigles Bleus tied up the game early in the middle frame despite lots of offensive zone pressure from UNB. Justin Vanier-Guenette got behind the defense and was the recipient of a nice pass on a rush, redirecting the puck just past the outstretched leg of Alex Dubeau and inside the post to make it a 2-2 game at 2:09. Unfortunately for Moncton, they only had one more shot in the period and UNB was able to put the game away with a flurry of three goals in the latter half of the frame. At 14:26 Chris Caissy (Trainor, Brace) got a rebound all alone in front of the net and quickly fired it past Aigles Bleus goaltender Brandon Thibeau for a power play goal. At 19:08 Caissy (Trainor, Murphy) struck again when a Moncton defender in front of the net batted the puck high out of the air right to him in the slot, where he snapped it past an unsuspecting Thibeau. Just 20 seconds later Anderson (Simpson, Clapperton) completed his hat-trick with a quick one-timer from the bottom of the face-off circle to make it 5-2. Shots in the period were 13-2 for UNB.

- Despite a number of Aigles Bleus power plays in the 3rd period, it was the V-Reds who got the lone goal. At 11:19 Mike Thomas (Simpson, Cooper) ripped a one-timer from the slot off the post and in, capping the scoring. Shots over the final twenty minutes were 10-4 for the V-Reds.

- Shots in the game were 33-17 for UNB.

- The game was marred by penalties. Moncton was 1 for 12 on the power play, including three different two man advantages. UNB was 1 for 5.

- Overall there were 25 penalties called in the game, 18 of which were assessed to UNB. They were also given 60 out of the 82 penalty minutes handed out.

- Perhaps coincidentally (or not), one of the referees in the game also worked the pre-season game against Dalhousie when the Tigers were awarded 10 power plays to UNB's 5.

- The V-Reds won 39 out of 68 face-offs in the game. Mark Simpson led the way with 16 wins in 21 chances.

- Alex Dubeau received the start in goal.

- Attendance was 2417.

- Anderson, Caissy, and Fournier were named the game's three stars.

- Oliver Cooper's assist on the final goal was also his first career point. He was scoreless in 7 games last season.

- Peter Trainor saw his first regular season action since the 2015-2016 season and contributed a pair of assists.

- Before the game a ceremony was held to honour last season's championship team. After the 2017-2018 team was introduced, a number of staff and players representing the six previous title teams were brought out on the ice, newly minted team captain Dylan Willick skated out with the University Cup, a video tribute celebrating UNB's hockey legacy was shown (see below), and the 2017 National Championship banner was unveiled.



- The Varsity Reds are back in action on Friday night when they travel to Charlottetown to face the UPEI Panthers in their home opener. Game time is 7PM and can be viewed at www.AUStv.ca.

News and Notes: Captains Named, Shell Article

A pair of notes before the Varsity Reds raise their 7th National Championship banner to the rafters tonight in the home opener against Moncton:

- It was reported earlier today that 5th year forward Dylan Willick has been named team captain. This represents a slight change in philosophy for UNB as all of their previous captains in recent memory (Critchlow, Culligan, Bailey, Friesen) served multiple years in the role. Nonetheless it is an excellent choice given Willick's on-ice and off-ice resume. 

- It was also announced that Matt Boudens and Randy Gazzola will serve as alternate captains for the entire season while Colin Suellentrop will be the first of four players that will rotate as the third alternate. 

- Former Royal Military College Paladins and University of British Columbia Thunderbirds head coach Adam Shell has joined the CUSN as a contributor. In his first article he discusses the Varsity Reds and the pressure to three-peat.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Hodgson Signs AHL Deal

The Varsity Reds have been dealt a significant blow on the eve of the regular season as one of their top recruits - forward Hayden Hodgson - has signed a two year contract with the Cleveland Monsters, the AHL affiliate of the Columbus Blue Jackets. 

After scoring 38 goals in his final junior season, Hodgson was expected to play a big part in replacing some of the offense the Varsity Reds have lost since the end of last season. Instead, his departure means UNB is now down to only 19 eligible skaters on their roster. This leaves them with only one extra player, which is a risky move given the number of injuries we have seen teams encounter during the course of the season. Since they are now three players below the roster cap of 22 skaters, it seems likely they will be looking to add some impact players at the Christmas break. 

Monday, October 2, 2017

Eagles Hand V-Reds First Loss

The perennial NCAA powerhouse Boston College Eagles scored two quick goals and never looked back in a 4-2 victory over the visiting University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds Saturday night in Boston. UNB finishes pre-season play with a 2-1-0 record.

- After opening up a 2-0 first period lead on goals at 3:14 and 7:05, the Eagles extended the margin to 3-0 just 1:07 into the 2nd period. All goals were scored at even strength.

- The V-Reds finally got on the board with a 5-on-3 power play marker at 18:59 of the 2nd when Chris Caissy fired in a pass from Cameron Brace. Christopher Clapperton also received an assist on the goal.

- Boston College reclaimed their three goal cushion with a breakaway goal 3:59 into the 3rd period before Clapperton (Willick) got the final tally of the evening after stealing the puck in close and beating the Eagles goaltender with a low shot just inside the post at 15:49.

- Shots favoured UNB 36-22 with period totals of 9-11, 17-6, and 10-5.

- Alex Dubeau and Rylan Parenteau once again both played. Dubeau gave up 3 goals on 17 shots during 40 minutes of action and Parenteau came in for the final period, stopping 4 out of 5 shots faced.

- UNB went 1 for 4 on the power play while the Eagles were held scoreless on four opportunities.

- There were only 10 penalties (and 23 penalty minutes) called in the game, a welcome change from the penalty-filled affairs we saw last season between NCAA and USports teams.

- Clapperton received a 5 minute major for boarding in the 2nd period.

- The V-Reds only allowed one shot on goal during 11:40 of shorthanded time. By comparison, they generated 12 shots on goal during their 7:17 of man advantage time.

- The Eagles won 38 out of 64 face-offs.

- Attendance was 323.

- The game was played at the Boston Bruins practice facility - Warrior Ice Arena - due to an Eagles football game on campus.

- UNB is back in action this Wednesday night as the regular season kicks off at the AUC against the Universite de Moncton Aigles Bleus in the home opener. Game time is 7PM. Before the game the team will raise their 7th National Championship banner to the rafters.