Saturday, December 30, 2017

V-Reds Bury Rams With Late Flurry

The University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds broke open a close game with a burst of five unanswered goals over the final 11:31 to pull away from the visiting Ryerson Rams in an 8-2 victory this afternoon at the AUC. With the victory the V-Reds capture the Pete Kelly Cup for the 12th consecutive season.

After a scoreless opening twenty minutes in which UNB out-shot the Rams 14-8 the Varsity Reds got on the board first while shorthanded 6:22 into the middle stanza. Some aggressive forechecking by Matt Boudens caused Rams goaltender Taylor Dupuis to misplay the puck near the half boards. Boudens picked up the puck and found Kris Bennett near the far post on a 2-on-1 down low and the rookie banged it in. The Rams took out Dupuis - who was once again outstanding, stopping 17 out of 18 shots - just after the halfway mark of the period and replaced him Brodie Barrick, who has yet to see a minute of regular season action this season. Ryerson evened the score at 15:53 with Brandon Hughes taking a pass from behind the net as he was skating towards the goal and quickly snapping past Rylan Parenteau. However, just like last night, the Varsity Reds quickly responded as Mike Thomas (Willick, McIvor) got the puck at the blue line on a delayed penalty and found the top corner with a slap shot to restore UNB's lead at 16:27. Stephen Anderson (Clapperton, LeBlanc) tipped in a point shot at 19:52 to make it a 3-1 lead heading into the final twenty minutes, after a period in which the Rams out-shot the V-Reds 9-7.

Ryerson made the game interesting with Kyle Tibbo scoring 2:52 into the 3rd period to cut the deficit to a goal, but the floodgates opened shortly after. Three quick goals  from Tyler Boland (from Anderson and Clapperton at 8:29), Randy Gazzola (Bennett, Goulet at 9:13), and Thomas (McIvor, Willick at 10:42) made it a comfortable 6-2 lead and then they capped the contest with goals on both ends of a 5-on-3 power play, first by LeBlanc (Gazzola, Goulet at 17:43) and then by Cameron Brace (Murphy, McIvor at 18:48). Shots in the final frame were 17-11 for UNB.

- Shots in the game favoured the V-Reds 38-28. One could argue that, despite the score, today's game was actually a much more even contest than last night's 6-5 overtime victory.

- Mark Simpson was once again the lone scratch.

- UNB went 2 for 7 on the power play while the Rams were shut-out on 7 opportunities.

- Mike Thomas (2 goals) and Kyle Tibbo (1 goal, 1 assist) were named their team's player of the game.

- Rylan Parenteau played all 60 minutes and was sharp, stopping 26 out of 28 shots.

- UNB had another strong game in the face-off circle, winning 48 out of 75 draws. Dylan Willick (13 out of 20), Tyler Boland (9 out of 14), and Alexandre Goulet (also 9 out of 14) led the way.

- Attendance was a solid 2368 for a rare afternoon game.

- Chris Clapperton was named the tournament MVP.

- The tournament all-star team consisted of forwards Stephen Anderson and Tyler Boland and defenceman Olivier LeBlanc along with Ryerson goaltender Taylor Dupuis, forward Devon Paliani, and defenceman Jared Walsh.

- Although Ryerson lost both games and were outscored 14-7 in the process, they showed they can hang with one of the top teams in the country for long stretches. Keep in mind that this is a team that was 8-18-2 in conference play just 7 years ago and were routinely hovering around 0.500 most years until they broke out to the tune of a 22-4-2 record last season. This is an up and coming program that has improved by leaps and bounds this decade. They will no doubt use this experience as a learning tool as they look to get back here for the University Cup in March.

- The Varsity Reds are 11-0-0 at the AUC this season and are 33-1-0 on home ice since the beginning of last season.

- UNB lost 4-3 in overtime to Saint Mary's in the final of the inaugural Pete Kelly Cup in 2005/2006, but has captured every edition since.

- The 8 goals scored tie a season-high. They also scored 8 in a win over UPEI on November 24th.

- Regular season action resumes this upcoming weekend at the AUC when the V-Reds host Dalhousie on Friday night and St. FX on Saturday night, in what most likely will be a battle for first place. Both games are scheduled for a 7PM puck drop.

Friday, December 29, 2017

UNB Pulls Out Improbable Victory

The visiting Ryerson Rams found out first hand what many teams have learned over the years - you can never count out the University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds, especially on home ice. The Rams jumped out to a 3-0 1st period lead and held a 5-2 advantage in the 3rd period before the defending U Sports champions stormed back to claim a 6-5 overtime victory in a wildly entertaining first game of the annual Peterbilt Pete Kelly Cup.

The V-Reds jumped out to a good start with a number of close calls in the opening period, but the combination of Rams goaltender Taylor Dupuis and a little but of luck kept the game scoreless until late in the frame. That's when the wheels came off for UNB and things went from bad (a Devon Paliani power play goal on a scramble at 16:46 after Alex Dubeau was interfered with) to worse (a Matt Mistele shot from the slot and into the top corner at 17:54) to terrible (Dubeau, still agitated about the non-call on the first goal, took an unsportsmanlike penalty and Paliani scored his second power play goal of the night on a breakaway at 18:40). Peter Trainor (Bennett, Gazzola) saved the period from being a complete disaster when he batted a puck out of mid-air past Dupuis at 19:26 to get UNB on the board and make it a 3-1 game heading into the intermission. Shots in the period were 19-8 for the Varsity Reds.

It was all UNB in the 2nd period, at least on the shot clock, as the V-Reds out-shot the Rams 22-4 over the middle twenty minutes, however the two teams traded goals. Stephen Anderson (Clapperton, Bennett) finished off one of the nicest rushes you will ever see with a power play goal at 11:40 and it appeared UNB was well on its way. The momentum was halted, though, at 16:07 when Erick DeLaurentis forced a turnover at his own blue line after all kinds of offensive pressure from the V-Reds and took the puck the other way, beating Rylan Parenteau, who had replaced Dubeau at the beginning of the period, with a snap shot off the rush to make it a 4-2 game.

Ryerson appeared to clamp down a bit defensively in the opening stages of the 3rd period as UNB failed to get as many pucks on net as they had over the first forty minutes. Things really began to look dire after a Colin Suellentrop penalty led to the Rams third power play goal of the night at 7:34. Then the comeback began. Again, the V-Reds quickly answered, this time with Anderson finding himself all alone in front to bang home a Chris Clapperton pass from behind the net just 36 seconds later to make it 5-3. Tyler Boland (Clapperton, Bennett) pulled UNB to within one at 10:31 when he fired a rocket into the short side top corner from the left face-off circle and then Chris Caissy (LeBlanc, Brace) knotted the game with a wrist shot from the bottom of the right face-off circle at 14:38. Each team had a couple of chance to go ahead over the final 5+ minutes but the game remained tied and headed to a five minute, 3-on-3 overtime. Shots in the period were 19-7 for UNB.

In the extra session the Rams controlled the puck off of the opening face-off, but a Steve Harland interference penalty just as the Varsity Reds were about to rush the puck up the ice put UNB on a 4-on-3 the power play at 2:25. It took only 29 seconds to end the game as a Tyler Boland (Clapperton, Goulet) shot deflected off of something in front and going in to give the V-Reds an unlikely win. The Varsity Reds had all three shots in the overtime period.

- Shots in the game were 63-19 for UNB.

- Mark Simpson was the lone scratch. He was also sidelined for the game against Poland earlier this month.

- Alexandre Goulet made his UNB debut, wearing number 91. His usual number 19 is already being worn by Cameron Brace. Goulet picked up his first point - a secondary assist - on the game-winning goal.

- UNB was 3 for 8 on the power play. The Rams showed off a lethal power play of their own, converting on 3 out of 4 opportunities.

- The V-Reds won 50 out of 83 face-offs. Goulet (13 out of 20), Boland (11 out of 16), Caissy (9 out of 14), and Dylan Willick (9 out of 12) all had strong night at the dot.

- Boland (2 goals, 1 assist), Dupuis (a Ryerson record 57 saves), and Clapperton (4 assists) were named the game's three stars.

- Marcus McIvor was the lone V-Reds not to register a shot on goal.

- UNB allowed a season-high five goals in regulation.

- This game was reminiscent of the 5-4 shootout win over Dalhousie last October in which UNB also trailed by three goals in the 3rd period..

- This was the first ever meeting between the two schools.

- UNB extends their winning streak over OUA teams to 23 games (exhibition + University Cup) since suffering a 3-2 loss to Western at the 2012 University Cup.

- They have also now won 44 consecutive exhibition games versus U Sports competition at the AUC and 26 straight exhibition games versus U Sports competition overall.

- This game continues a bit of a recent trend for UNB in that the opening game of the Pete Kelly Cup has tended to be fairly close. In 2013 they defeated Windsor 6-5, in 2014 they beat Concordia 7-3, and last year they were tied with York 3-3 late in the game before pulling away for a 6-3 victory. However, the rematches have been a different story as they won 7-1, 5-1, and 6-1, respectively, those years.

- The Varsity Reds will hope that trend holds tomorrow as the two teams go at it again. Game time is 4PM.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

V-Reds Add Firepower To Line-Up

Although it took a little longer than originally hoped, the University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds have secured the services of blue-chip recruit Alexandre Goulet.

The former Charlottetown Islanders and Victoriaville Tigres forward was thought to be joining the team in the fall along with junior teammate and good friend Tristan Pomerleau, however he instead decided to try his hand at professional hockey. After playing three games with the AHL's Rochester Americans at the end of last season, Goulet attended the training camps for the Montreal Canadiens and their AHL affiliate in Laval earlier this season before eventually joining the expansion Jacksonville Icemen of the ECHL, who currently sport a 5-15-4 record. In 18 games with the Icemen - who also feature former Varsity Reds captain Cameron Critchlow - he was the team's leading scorer with 9 goals and 13 assists.

A native of Thetford Mines, Quebec, the 5'11", 190 pound Goulet put up 133 goals and 125 assists in 262 career games in the QMJHL. This was capped by a career year of 89 points (39 goals and 50 assists) in 68 games with the Tigres last season. During his four year junior career he never scored fewer than 26 goals in a season, including 33+ in each of the previous three years.

Without question, the addition of Goulet is a massive one for the Varsity Reds as they gear up to defend their back to back University Cups on home ice. While they are once again the highest scoring team in the conference (80 goals scored vs. 79 for Acadia), there have been times when they have had trouble finding the back of the net despite averaging over 41 shots per game. His skill should help make their line-up even more balanced and potent - and should certainly help what has thus far been a disappointing power play.

It may seem to some to be a bit of a surprise to see Goulet join UNB given he was leading the Icemen in scoring and was getting top minutes, but it is apparent the chance to pursue an education - while taking advantage of the CHL educational package - plus the opportunity to play for one of the top team's in the country and for a national championship, won out at the end of the day.

Goulet is expected to be in the line-up when the Varsity Reds host the Ryerson Rams for a pair of games at the end of the month.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

U Sports All-Stars Sweep Junior Hopefuls

The U Sports All-Star team and Team Canada World Junior Prospects faced off for a pair of games earlier this week in St. Catharines and, for the first time ever, the squad made up of university players from across the country won both contests.

On Wednesday night, Alberta Golden Bears forward Luke Philip scored 2:44 into the 1st period and Michael Clarke (St. FX) and Logan McVeigh (Saskatchewan) added empty net goals in the final 1:15 to secure a 3-0 victory for U Sports. Team Canada goaltenders Carter Hart and Colton Point combined for 32 saves in the U Sports net to record the first shutout of Team Canada by U Sports in 32 meetings dating back to 1988. Shots in the game were 32-24 for Team Canada.

The next afternoon U Sports completed the two game sweep with a 4-3 win thanks to Golden Bears defenceman Jason Fram's goal with only 6.5 seconds remaining in regulation. Also scoring for U Sports were Cole Sanford (Alberta), with a pair, and Stephen Harper (Alberta). The teams switched goalies for the game with Michael DiPietro and Samuel Harvey playing for U Sports. Shots in the game were 27 apiece. 

Varsity Reds defenceman Randy Gazzola and forward Stephen Anderson were both held scoreless during the series.

- UNB has an article on the pair of V-Reds while Bernd Franke of the St. Catharines Standard and Bill Petrecz of BPSN each have a nice piece on Randy Gazzola, who was playing only about 10 minutes from his home of Thorold.

- Team Canada finalized their roster Thursday night as they prepare to kick off the tournament on Boxing Day against Finland.

- For UNB, their next action is Friday, December 29th and Saturday, December 30th when they host the Ryerson Rams in this year's Pete Kelly Cup. The Rams are currently 11-4-1 and tied for first place in the OUA's west division. 

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Varsity Reds Take Down Poland

The #2 ranked U Sports University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds added an impressive win to their resume this afternoon as they defeated Poland's national men's team - the 20th ranked team in the world according to current IIHF rankings - by a 4-1 score.

UNB jumped out to a 2-0 first period lead thanks to a power play goal by Chris Clapperton (Bennett, Anderson) at 9:53 and a breakaway goal by Tyler Boland (Clapperton, McIvor) at 12:45. After Oliver Cooper (Brace, Murphy) got behind the defence for a power play goal 4:56 into the second period that pushed the lead to 3-0, the Polish squad played quite well the rest of the game and had a number of high quality scoring chances. Krystian Dziubinski scored Poland's lone goal of the afternoon off of a rebound four seconds into a power play at 7:05 of the second period to cut the V-Reds lead to 3-1, but Kris Bennett (Murphy, Boudens) sealed the game with an empty net marker with 1:21 remaining.

- Shots in the game were 34-28 for UNB. The period totals were 14-10, 9-9, and 11-9.

- Mark Simpson sat out the game while Chris Caissy did not appear to play after the first period.

- UNB was 2 for 3 on the power play. Poland had all five of their opportunities in succession over a 23 minute span in the 2nd and 3rd periods, scoring once.

- Alex Dubeau played the opening twenty minutes and stopped all 11 shots he saw. Rylan Parenteau turned aside 16 out of 17 shots over the final two periods.

- Attendance was 1901.

- Clapperton (1 goal, 1 assist), Dziubinski (1 goal), and Boland (1 goal) were named the game's three stars.

- UNB won 35 out of 62 face-offs with Boland (8 out of 14) and Bennett (7 out of 11) doing the bulk of the damage.

- Prior to the contest 4th year veteran defenceman - and alternate captain - Randy Gazzola was awarded this year's Don MacAdam Award for leadership.

- The V-Reds will now focus on exams before hosting the OUA's Ryerson Rams on Friday, December 29th (7PM) and Saturday, December 30th (4PM) in the annual Pete Kelly Challenge.

Friday, December 8, 2017

News And Notes: Back From Vacation Edition

Catching up on some news over the past week:

- The Varsity Reds picked up an important three points in their last two regular season games before the Christmas break, despite not leading for a single second of game time. On Friday night they rallied from 1-0, 3-1, and 4-3 deficits against Saint Mary's before finally succumbing in the 10th round of the shoot-out. The next night they fell behind 1-0 and 2-1 against Acadia, but battled back to tie it each time. Matt Murphy's goal on a great individual effort just 15 seconds into overtime gave the V-Reds their first pre-Christmas win in Wolfville since 2009.

UNB heads into the holiday break having already clinched a playoff spot and in first place in the AUS with a 15-0-3 record, just ahead of the 15-1-2 St. FX X-Men. This is only the second time in school history they have been undefeated in regulation in the first half of the season. The only other instance was 2009-2010 when they were 15-0-0 at the break.

-  Thanks in large part to his overtime winning goal, Murphy was named the UNB Varsity Reds/Papa John's Pizza Athlete of the Week.

- Forward Stephen Anderson and defenceman Randy Gazzola have been named to the U Sports Men's Hockey all-star team that will face Canada's National Junior Team prospects for a pair of games next week in St. Catharines, Ontario. The games are scheduled for Wednesday, December 13th at 8PM AST and Thursday, December 14th at 5PM AST.

The 21 player roster, which also features fellow AUS players Hunter Garlent (SMU), Boston Leier (Acadia), Stephen Harper (Acadia), Jagger Dirk (St. FX), Holden Cook (St. FX), and Michael Clarke (St. FX), is being coached by Brad Peddle (St. FX) along with assistant coaches Mark Howell (Calgary), Patrick Grandmaitre (Ottawa), and Trevor Stienburg (Saint Mary's). V-Reds forward Christopher Clapperton was also selected before a concussion injury kept him out of action for seven games.

- Although the regular season schedule is on hold until after Christmas, the Varsity Reds will be in action this Sunday afternoon at 2PM when they host Team Poland in an exhibition game at the AUC. Tickets can be purchased online or at the box office.