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.