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