Thursday, May 24, 2018

Regular Season Schedule Released

With the hot stove beginning to heat up, the AUS released the 2018-2019 regular season schedules for their winter sports today, including men's hockey.

Here is how the Varsity Reds schedule for the upcoming season:

Friday, September 28th vs. UPEI
Saturday, September 29th at Moncton
Friday, October 12th vs. Moncton
Saturday, October 13th at UPEI
Friday, October 19th at Acadia
Saturday, October 20th at Saint Mary's
Friday, October 26th vs. Acadia
Saturday, October 27th vs. Saint Mary's
Tuesday, October 30th at Moncton
Saturday, November 3rd vs. UPEI
Friday, November 9th vs. St. FX
Saturday, November 10th vs. Dalhousie
Friday, November 16th at St. FX
Saturday, November 17th at Dalhousie
Friday, November 23rd vs. Saint Mary's
Saturday, November 24th vs. Acadia
Friday, November 30th at Saint Mary's
Saturday, December 1st at Acadia
---CHRISTMAS BREAK---
Friday, January 4th vs. Saint Mary's
Saturday, January 5th vs. Acadia
Friday, January 11th at Dalhousie
Saturday, January 12th at St. FX
Wednesday, January 16th vs. Moncton
Friday, January 18th at UPEI
Friday, January 25th at Dalhousie
Saturday, January 26th at St. FX
Wednesday, January 30th at Moncton
Saturday, February 2nd vs. UPEI
Friday, February 8th vs. St. FX
Saturday, February 9th vs. Dalhousie

A few observations after looking over the schedule:

- All games are scheduled for a 7PM start with the exception of the home game against Acadia on Saturday, November 24th which is slated for a rare 4PM puck drop.

- All games will be played on Friday or Saturday except for three games against Moncton - Tuesday, October 30th on the road (which was most likely moved up a day to avoid falling on Halloween), Wednesday, January 16th at home, and Wednesday, January 30th in Moncton. 

- Once again they will play 18 games (9 home/9 away) prior to the Christmas break and 12 (6 home/6 away) after.

- UNB will face each of the other 6 teams five times each. They will have the extra home game against UPEI, Saint Mary's, and Acadia while playing an extra road game against Moncton, Dalhousie, and St. FX.

- The AUS season opener goes on Wednesday, September 26th with UPEI hosting Moncton.

- For the Varsity Reds, their home (and season) opener will take place on September 28th against UPEI. This is the earliest start to the regular season since at least 1966. The V-Reds are currently riding a 7 game winning streak in season openers and a 29 game winning streak in home openers. They have also won 14 home games in a row against the Panthers.

- In a strange quirk, UNB/UPEI/Acadia are all off the following weekend, which is the Thanksgiving long weekend, while the other four teams all see action on Friday, October 5th. Typically Thanksgiving weekend is when the V-Reds, along with other AUS teams, travel to play NCAA teams. However, when the 30 game schedule was introduced a rule was implemented prohibiting teams from playing exhibition games in the middle of the regular season. This means team can only play exhibition games before the season begins or over the Christmas break so it will be interesting to see if that rule has been changed this year or if there just won't be any AUS/NCAA games.

- The V-Reds have two stretches of three straight home games as well as stretches of three straight and four straight road games.

- Much like last year there are a number of "rematches" scheduled. There are four instances - all in the first half - where UNB will play the same two teams in consecutive weekends.

- The UNB/St. FX rivalry will have to wait a while to be renewed. The two foes don't face each other until November 9th at the AUC. This will be the V-Reds 11th game of the season.

- The Varsity Reds will complete their season series against Acadia and Saint Mary's during the first weekend after Christmas. This will complete a stretch of 6 straight games against the two dating back to the end of the first half. At that point they will have played exactly half of their schedule up to that point (10 out of 20 games) against either the Axemen or Huskies.

- Meanwhile, they will have only played Dalhousie and St. FX twice each by then.

- For the second straight year they will host the X-Men in the second to last game of the regular season. It would be shocking if that game did not have serious playoff implications.

- The regular season concludes for all teams on Saturday, February 9th. UNB will host Dalhousie that night.

- The playoff format will be the same as the last number of years with a pair of best 2-of-3 quarter-finals, best 3-of-5 semi-finals, and a best 2-of-3 final.

- The AUS will have two berths at the 2019 University Cup, which is being hosted by the University of Lethbridge from March 14th to 17th.

- The Varsity Reds women's team will play their first regular season game in 3892 days when they host Mount Allison on Saturday, October 13th at 7PM at the AUC.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Offseason Update

While it has been slow beginning to the offseason in terms of news, there have been a few notes of interest thus far:

- At last month's Senior Appreciation and Awards Ceremony the team handed out a number of accolades. These included Hardest Worker (Kris Bennett), Most Improved (Tristan Pomerleau), Top G.R.I.T. (Mike Thomas), Most Dedicated (Christopher Clapperton), Top Efficiency (Bennett), Unsung Hero (Dylan Willick), Top Defensive Player (Mark Simpson), and Top Defenceman (Randy Gazzola and Matt Murphy).

- The four graduating seniors were also honoured with forwards Dylan Willick, Mike Thomas, and Chris Caissy and defenceman Colin Suellentrop being welcomed into the UNB Hockey Fellows Society. While Willick and Thomas have used up all five years of their eligibility, Caissy and Suellentrop have opted to move on after four years.

- Trey Lewis will also not return after having signed a contract to play for the Brest Albatros in France.

- These five departures, in addition to playing last season two players under the 22 player roster cap, means the Varsity Reds could have up to seven new players in their line-up next season. One of these - forward Patrick Watling - was already announced in September.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Willick Signs With Railers

Varsity Reds team captain Dylan Willick has agreed to terms with the ECHL's Worcester Railers, the team announced earlier this week.

The 5th year forward joins the Railers - an affiliate of the NHL's New York Islanders - after posting 58 points (28 goals, 30 assists) and a +45 rating in a school record-tying 138 regular season games.

Playing in his first professional game on Friday night against the Brampton Beats, Willick - wearing 42 instead of his usual 9 - picked up an assist in a 3-2 victory. He notched his first career professional goal the next night against the Beast when he opened the scoring after picking up a loose puck in the defensive zone and went in all alone, putting the puck top corner for a shorthanded tally. Worcester would go on to a 4-1 win.

Willick is one of two Varsity Reds players who have used up all five years of their eligibility with Mike Thomas being the other.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

University Cup Wrap-Up: V-Reds Win Bronze, X-Men Lose Gold

The 2018 University Cup concluded this morning and afternoon at the AUC with the bronze medal and gold medal games.

This morning in a chippy bronze medal game the University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds defeated the Saskactchewan Huskies 5-4 in overtime.

- Much like in their semi-final game against Alberta the Huskies got out to a 2-0 lead on goals at 6:08 and 16:22 of the opening period. A Matt Murphy (Simpson, McIvor) shorthanded goal off of the rush in the final minute got UNB back within one heading into intermission.

- Saskatchewan restored their two goal advantage early in the 2nd period only to see the V-Reds storm back for three goals in short order to take the lead. At 4:29 Tyler Boland (Goulet, Brace) picked the top corner on a 3-on-1 rush to make it 3-2, then at 6:32 Alexandre Goulet (Brace, Pomerleau) beat Huskies goalie Taran Kozun clean with a wrist shot from the slot to tie, and 25 seconds later Olivier LeBlanc (Murphy, Anderson) let shot go from the point through traffic that hit the post and went in. UNB would hold the lead for about ten minutes until Carson Stadnyk batted the puck out of mid-air from the side of the net to tie it 4-4, which is how it would stay until overtime.

- At 4:14 of the extra session Mark Simpson threw a pass from the corner out front and Goulet just got enough of the puck to tip it into the far side of the cage to give the V-Reds the win. Tristan Pomerleau also assisted on the game winning goal.

- Shots in the game were 38-22 for UNB.

- Despite there being 25 penalties called for 66 minutes in the game, neither team scored a power play goal. UNB went 0 for 9 and Saskatchewan was 0 for 6.

- Goulet (2 goals, 1 assist) and the Huskies Levi Cable (1 goal, 1 assist) were the players of the game.

- The Varsity Reds won 45 out of 77 face-offs. Simpson was 21 for 27 on the day.

- Mark Simpson was named to the all-tournament team.

- Attendance was 2583, which was impressive given the 10AM puck drop.

- UNB improves to 6-0 all-time versus Saskatchewan with every meeting occurring at the University Cup.

- UNB finishes the season with a combined record of 36-3-5 record. This includes a 24-2-4 conference record, 5-0 in the playoffs, 2-0-1 at the University Cup and 5-1 in exhibition play. This is the fewest regulation losses they have ever had in a season. By comparison, they were 35-7-3 last season and 37-6-1-2 in 2016.

- Just a phenomenal accomplishment by this year's team given how much talent they lost after last season and how this was considered to be a "rebuilding" year. There is certainly lots to look forward to moving forward.

- The V-Reds have finished 3rd, 1st, 1st, and 2nd at their last four University Cup tournaments. They will be looking to medal for a 5th straight time next season when the tournament heads to Lethbridge, Alberta.

- In the Gold Medal game the St. FX X-Men let an early 2-0 lead get away from them in a 4-2 loss to the Alberta Golden Bears. Daniel Robertson and Michael Clarke scored for the X-Men in the first 8:52 of the game, but Alberta tied it up before the end of the period with goals from Stephane Legault and Luke Philp 39 seconds apart. Will Tomchuk's goal at 4:18 of the 2nd period proved to be the championship winner with Jamie Crook's empty netter with 1:28 left providing the insurance.

- This is Alberta's record 16th national title.

- Shots were 27-26 for the Golden Bears.

- The two goaltenders - Chase Marchand for the X-Men and Zach Shawchenko - were named the players of the game.

- St. FX went 1 for 6 on the power play, but failed to convert on a pair of 2nd period 5-on-3's. Alberta went 0 for 4.

- Attendance was a sell-out of 3374 although there were a noticeable number of empty seats visible. The actual attendance was probably closer to 2800-3000.

- St. FX is now 1-4 all-time in championship games. Alberta is 16-5.

- Only 6 months until the 2018-2019 season begins!

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Heartbreak On Home Ice

Adam Stevens’ goal with 47 seconds remaining in the first overtime period lifted the #5 seeded St. FX X-Men over the #1 seeded University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds 5-4 in an epic semi-final contest this afternoon at the University Cup, ending the Varsity Reds bid for a three-peat.

- Scoring for the Varsity Reds were Chris Caissy, Tyler Boland, Chris Clapperton, and Mark Simpson.

- The V-Reds went ahead 1-0 early in the game on Caissy's power play goal before giving up two quick ones shortly afterwards from Anthony Difruscia and Santino Centorame. Boland's power play goal late in the 1st period tied it at 2-2 after one period of play.

- After dominating the 2nd period Chris Clapperton finally broke through in the final minute with UNB's third power play goal of the game, giving the home side a 3-2 lead after 40 minutes.

- The X-Men capitalized on their own power play chances in the 3rd period, including a pair of 5-on-3's and a 5 minute major to Olivier LeBlanc, to grab a 4-3 lead. Scoring for St. FX were Holden Cook and Cole MacDonald. Mark Simpson provided the equalizer when he banged in a rebound from the doorstep with just over five minutes remaining in regulation. This set the stage for an overtime period that saw the V-Reds generate the majority of quality scoring chances until the X-Men capitalized on a scramble in front of Alex Dubeau.

- Shots in the game were 46-29 for UNB.

- St. FX went 3 for 7 on the power play. The Varsity Reds were 3 for 6.

- Steven and Clapperton were the player's of the game.

- Attendance was a sell-out of 3374.

- This is the second time St. FX has dashed the V-Reds title hopes in overtime at the AUC. They won their lone title in 2004 with a 3-2 double overtime victory over UNB.

- The X-Men will now move on to face the winner of #2 Alberta and #6 Saskatchewan, which gets underway at 4PM, in tomorrow’s gold medal game. UNB will face the loser of that game in the bronze medal game.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Huskies Top Redmen

The #6 seeded Saskatchewan Huskies secured the last semi-final berth at the 2018 University Cup after getting past the #3 McGill Redmen 4-1 in a physical, hard-hitting affair tonight at the AUC.

The Huskies received goals from Michael Sofillas - on a tap-in at the side of the net 5-on-3 power play at 12:42 of the 1st period - and Connor Cox - from a sharp angle 1:03 into the 2nd period. The Redmen got back into it with a power play goal from Antoine Dufort-Plante on a goalmouth scramble at 17:37 of the 2nd period, setting up an exciting finish. However, the Huskies got a big insurance goal from Carson Stadnyk at 9:58 of the 3rd period and salted the game away with a Kohl Bauml empty netter with 65 seconds remaining.

- Shots in the game were 34-33 for McGill.

- Each team scored a power play goal. The Huskies had 4 opportunities to the Redmen's 5.

- There were a combined 84 penalty minutes in the game. This included 5 10-minute misconducts, all of which were handed out in the 3rd period.

- Both goalies earned player of the game awards. Taran Kozun - who is filling in for two-time U Sports Goaltender of the Year Jordon Cooke, who is injured - for the Huskies and Louis-Philip Guindon for the Redmen.

- Attendance was 2739.

- McGill's loss ends another disappointing showing from OUA teams at the University Cup. They have now gone 0-3 at each of the last three tournaments. Their last win came in 2015 when UQTR rallied for a 6-5 overtime win against Acadia.

- This is the 3rd straight year Saskatchewan will be playing in the semi-finals. They fell in an epic triple overtime game to St. FX in 2016 and of course lost 5-3 in the University Cup final to UNB last year.

- The Golden Bears beat the Huskies 5-2 and 5-1 on home ice to sweep the best 2-of-3 Canada West Final earlier this month. Unlike the AUS and OUA playoffs, in Canada West every game of a series is played at the home of the lower seeded team.

- Alberta won the season series against Saskwatchewan as well, winning 3 out of the 4 games.

- Tomorrow's semi-finals are now set and they not only feature a pair of regional rivalries, but also rematches from the conference finals. At 12PM it will be the UNB Varsity Reds versus the St. FX X-Men and then at 4PM Fredericton fans will get to see arguably the only rivalry in the country that is more heated when the Alberta Golden Bears face the Saskatchewan Huskies. Both games will be broadcast on Sportsnet 360.



UNB vs. St. FX: Preview, Prediction, Poll

The heated rivalry between the University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds and St. FX X-Men will add yet another chapter tomorrow afternoon when the two battle in the national semi-final. Game time is 12PM and if you can't make it to the rink the game will be broadcast live on Sportsnet 360.

The stakes are clear for both teams. For the Varsity Reds - they are looking to make it to the University Cup final for a fourth consecutive season. For the X-Men - they are looking to rebound from last week's 2-0 series loss to the V-Reds in the AUS Final and do what UNB has done the last two year's, which is to make the final as the AUS runner-up.

The two teams have met twice previously at the University Cup, but this is the first time they will play prior to the final. Each team has won once and that win came in enemy territory. In 2004 St. FX stunned a sold out AUC crowd with a 3-2 double overtime win to capture their first ever national championship. In 2016 the Varsity Reds returned the favour when they emerged victorious 3-1 before a huge crowd in Halifax.

This is the 3rd straight year the Varsity Reds will be facing a fellow AUS team in the semi-finals. Much like 2016 against Saint Mary's and last year against Acadia, at this point there probably isn't too much each side doesn't know about the other. For UNB they will look to replicate what made them successful in the AUS Final, namely getting a lead, crashing the net and getting some ugly goals, executing on special teams, playing a solid three zone game, and getting strong goaltending. For the X-Men, it is much the same. Although they struggled in the AUS Final, one has to expect that they will be better in all facets of the game tomorrow with a trip to the University Cup final on the line. They will need Chase Marchand to be on his game as he will no doubt face a lot of rubber. They lived and died with his performance as well as that of their special teams all year. If both are in top form they will be tough to beat. Not to mention they should have the confidence of being the only opposing team to win in the AUC in the last two years.

Although the Varsity Reds will probably hold a significant advantage in shots on goal, expect a tight game that could go down as a classic when it is all said and done. At the end of the day, I believe the Varsity Reds are just a touch better than the X-Men this year. If this game was played in Nova Scotia it might be different, but the home-ice advantage will be just enough to give UNB a one or two goal game that will come right down to the wire.

Your turn - Who wins tomorrow's semi-final?


UNB or St. FX?

Varsity Reds
X-Men
Created with PollMaker

Golden Bears Exact Revenge Against Axemen

The #2 seeded Alberta Golden Bears entered the 2018 University Cup as one of the favourites and they looked every bit the part this afternoon, at least for the first 50 minutes of the game. The Bears raced out to an 8-2 lead only to watch the Axemen score four times in the latter half of the 3rd period to make the final score a more respectable 8-6. The win avenges last year's 4-1 quarter-final loss and, more importantly, moves Alberta into the semi-finals for the first time in three years.

A pair of Riley Kieser goals - one just 13 seconds into the game and another at 13:16 - gave the Golden Bears an early 2-0 lead. Kyle Farrell responded for the Axemen just 16 seconds later to make it 2-1, which is how it would stay until the intermission.

A slew-footing penalty late in the 1st period put Alberta on a five minute power play and they finally connected 3:12 into the 2nd period courtesy Canada West MVP Luke Philp. That opened the floodgates a bit as the Golden Bears added another pair in short order - first by Cole Sanford at 5:26 and then a power play goal at 9:22. A Remy Giftopoulos power play goal at 15:46 cut the deficit to 5-2 before the end of the period.

The 3rd period was a wild one. Alberta again showed their quick-strike ability with goals from Trevor Cox at 2:31, Jamie Crooks on the power play at 4:31, and U Sports Defenceman of the Year Jason Fram at 6:46 to make it 8-2. To their credit, the Axemen did not quit. Cristiano Digiacinto scored at 11:56 and then they added three more in the final 63 seconds - from Chance Braid at 18:57, Boston Leier at 19:20, and Geoff Schemitsch at 19:43 - to turn what was a blowout to a final score that was much more indicative of the play.

- Shots in the game were 38-29 for Alberta.

- Alberta was without one of their regular forwards in Brandon Magee. Magee, who put up 24 points in 25 regular season games this season, was serving a suspension that carried over from the Canada West final.

- Kieser and Schemitsch were named their team's player of the game.

- Robert Steeves stopped 24 out of 32 shots before giving away to Dawson Carty for the final 13 minutes. Carty stopped all 6 shots sent his way. At the other end, Brendan Burke - son of former NHLer Sean Burke - made 23 saves on 29 shots.

- Acadia was 1 for 4 on the power play while Alberta connected 3 times on 4 tries.

- Attendance was 3063.

- The loss ended a run of 8 straight wins by AUS teams in quarter-final play at the University Cup. UNB, St. FX, and Saint Mary's all won their games in 2016, UNB, St. FX, and Acadia were victorious last season, and UNB and St. FX won yesterday.

- The Golden Bears move on to face the winner of tonight's game between the #3 McGill Redmen and #6 Saskatchewan Huskies in tomorrow afternoon's 4PM semi-final, which will be broadcast live on Sportsnet 360.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

V-Reds Demolish Stingers

The hallmark for the #1 seeded University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds all season has been their ability to get contributions from up and down the line-up. That was on full display tonight in their opening game of the 2018 University Cup, receiving goals from seven different players in a 8-1 dismantling of the #8 seeded Concordia Stingers. The win sets up a semi-final showdown versus rival St. FX at 12PM on Saturday.

After a fairly even opening handful of minutes, the Varsity Reds opened the scoring at the 9:00 mark of the 1st period when Chris Clapperton (Simpson, Murphy) jammed the puck in from the side of the net. Mark Simpson doubled the lead 2:46 later after he stripped the puck from a Stingers defenceman as he attempted to exit his own zone. Simpson turned back, took a few strides, and beat Marc-Antoine Turcotte with a shot just inside the far post. As the period wore on the V-Reds started to exert their dominance and were rewarded with another marker with 30 seconds remaining in the opening frame after Rnady Gazzola (Simpson, Bennett) let a loose a seeing-eye shot from the point that a eluded a screened Turcotte. UNB took the 3-0 lead into the intermission and held a 15-7 advantage in shots on goal.

The Varsity Reds were even more impressive in the 2nd period - out-shooting the Stingers 18-3 - but Turcotte stood on his head, answering every puck thrown his way to keep the deficit within somewhat striking distance after 40 minutes.

The 3rd period is when the wheels fell off for the Stingers. Due to an injury he suffered in the previous period, Turcotte was replaced by back-up Antoine Dagenais and it was is the Varsity Reds smelled blood in the water. To make matters worse, Dagenais' teammates didn't offer him much help when they took three penalties in a span of 1:13 early in the period. UNB connected not on one, not on two, but on all three opportunities to blow the game wide open. At 3:48 U Sports Rookie of the Year Kris Bennett (Boland, Gazzola) picked up a loose puck between Dagenais’ legs and knifed it in while on a 5-on-3 advantage. Then, after another Stingers penalty gave UNB a second two man advantage, Stephen Anderson (Clapperton, Bennett) flipped the puck up and in from in tight at 4:50. Matt Boudens (Goulet, Brace) capped the power play outburst 39 seconds later after driving the net and backhanding the puck in to make it a 6-0 game. The Stinger spoiled Alex Dubeau's shutout bid just 15 seconds later when newly-crowned U Sports Player of the Year Alexandre Beauregard deflecte a shot from the slot that beat Dubeau just under the crossbar. Goals from Alexandre Goulet (Caissy, Brace) - on a tap-in at 11:42 after Cameron Brace found him with a nice pass from behind the net - and Stephen Anderson - unassisted at 17:42 after stealing the puck from a defenceman and beating Dagenais with a deke on a breakaway - put the finishing touches on an impressive victory. Shots in the period were 19-7 for UNB.

- Peter Trainor and Oliver Cooper were both scratched.

- Shots in the game ended up 52-17.

- UNB's special teams picked right up from where they left off in the AUS Final. They went 3 for 7 on the power play and killed off all 7 of the Stingers chances.

- The Varsity Reds won 48 out of the 78 face-offs. Mark Simpson (16 out of 26), Dylan Willick (11 out of 18), and Alexandre Goulet (8 out of 13) all had strong nights at the dot.

- Simpson was an absolute beast tonight and was rewarded by being named the player of the game. Massimo Carozza picked up an assist on Beauregard's goal and took home the honour for the Stingers.

- Every member of the V-Reds registered a shot on goal.

- Attendance was a sell-out of 3374.

- The winner of the 50/50 took home over $3800.

- Beauregard’s goal snapped Alex Dubeau’s shutout streak at 129:19, dating back to Matt Needham’s 2nd period goal in game 1 of the AUS Final.
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- UNB has outscored their opponents 29-8 thus far in 6 postseason games.

- The 8 goals scored are tied for the most by UNB in a University Cup game. They also did it 2013 against UQTR (8-3). The 7 goal margin of victory is their best ever.

- This is UNB's 7th consecutive University Cup victory since losing in the 2015 final to Alberta.

- Since losing 3-2 to Western at the 2012 University Cup, the Varsity Reds have steamrolled OUA opponents at the tournament. They have now reeled off 6 straight wins and have outscored the opposition 37-10.

- This is the 15th consecutive time UNB has won their opening game at the University Cup.

- The Varsity Reds will now have a day off before they renew their rivalry with the #5 St. FX X-Men in the semi-finals on Saturday at 12PM in what is sure to be a heated contest. The game will be broadcast live on Sportsnet 360.

- Tomorrow's action includes the #2 Alberta Golden Bears facing the #7 Acadia Axemen at 1PM and perhaps the most intriguing match-up, the #3 McGill Redmen tangling with the #6 Saskatchewan Huskies at 7PM. The two winners will face off in the other semi-final on Saturday, scheduled for 4PM.

X-Men Too Much For Badgers

The #5 seeded St. FX X-Men broke open a tie game with four unanswered goals over the final 25 minutes to pull away from the #4 seeded Brock Badgers in a 6-2 victory in the opening game of the 2018 University Cup this afternoon at the AUC.

The X-Men struck for a pair of goals in the early going - one from Holden Cook at 0:44 and another from Kristoff Kontos at 7:13 - and looked to be well on their way to blowing it open early. But the underdog Badgers battled back to tie the game before the end of the period on a power play goal from Braden Pears at 14:22 and a marker by Ayden MacDonald at 19:30.

With each team generating quality chances in the second period it was the X-Men who finally broke through when Michael Clarke gained control of a bouncing puck behind a Badgers defender and skated in all alone, beating Clint Windsor with a deke. St. FX took a 3-2 lead into the dressing room.

The 3rd period was all X-Men as they began to wear down the Badgers. Craig Dunnick's added some insurance with a power play goal at 5:04 and then Cook got his second of the afternoon just over two and a half minutes later to make it 5-2. Brock pulled their goalie with over four minutes remaining in hopes of pulling off a miracle, but Kontos added his second of the game with 10 seconds left to cap the scoring.

- Shots in the game were 38-25 for the X-Men.

- Brock was 1 for 3 on the power play. St. FX was 1 for 5.

- Michael Clarke (3 points) and Ayden MacDonald (1 goal) were named the player of the game for their respective teams.

- Attendance was 3176.

- After missing game 2 of the AUS Final, forward Matt Needham remained sidelined for the X-Men. His absence is a big one as he contributed 29 points in 29 games this season. There was some good news though with Holden Cook - who also missed game 2 against UNB - and defenceman Santino Centorame - who left early in game 2 - being back in their line-up.

- The X-Men now move on to Saturday's 12PM semi-final. They will face the winner of tonight's game between the #1 UNB Varsity Reds and #8 Concordia Stingers. Game time is 7PM and a very limited number of tickets remain.


Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Bennett, Gazzola Take Home Major Awards

Varsity Reds forward Kris Bennett and defenceman Randy Gazzola were both named recipients of U Sports major awards at the annual men's hockey Awards Gala earlier this evening at the Richard J. Currie Center on the campus of the University of New Brunswick.

After being awarded the AUS Rookie of the Year as well as being selected to the AUS all-rookie team earlier this month, Bennett replicated the feat on the national level. He was named the winner of the Clare Drake Award as the U Sports Rookie of the Year and earned a place on the U Sports all-rookie team. He joins defenceman Kevin Young (2003-2004) and Ryan Lindsay (1997-1998) as the only V-Reds to win the award.

Defenceman Randy Gazzola was named the winner of the R.W. Pugh Award as the nation's most sportsmanlike player. In 30 games this season the 4th year defender contributed 24 points, was a +13, and took only four minor penalties. He is only the second UNB player to earn this honour after Chris Culligan in 2014. Gazzola was also nominated for the Dr. Randy Gregg Award for outstanding community service, but lost out to Kendall McFaull of the Saskatchewan Huskies.

Here is the complete list of award winners and all-star teams:

Senator Joseph A. Sulivan Trophy (Player of the Year): Anthony Beauregard, Concordia
Dr. Randy Gregg Award (Student-Athlete Community Service): Kendall McFaull, Saskatchewan
Father George Kehoe Memorial Award (Coach of the Year): Kelly Nobes, McGill
R.W. Pugh Award (Most Sportsmanlike Player): Randy Gazzola, UNB
Clare Drake Award (Rookie of the Year): Kris Bennett, UNB
Defenceman of the Year: Jason Fram, Alberta
Goaltender of the Year: Chase Marchand, St. FX

First Team All-Canadians
F - Anthony Beauregard, Concordia
F - Hunter Garlent, Saint Mary's
F - Luke Philp, Alberta
D - Jason Fram, Alberta
D - Jagger Dirk, St. FX
G - Chase Marchand, St. FX

Second Team All-Canadians
F - Stephen Harper, Acadia
F - Matt Mistele, Ryerson
F - Joshua Roach, Saskatchewan
D - Alex Basso, Ryerson
D - Spencer Abraham, Queen's
G - Jordon Cooke, Saskatchewan

All-Rookie Team
F - Kris Bennett, UNB
F - Steven Owre, Alberta
F - Riley Brandt, RMC
D - Carl Neill, Concordia
D - Dylan DiPerna, Saint Mary's
G - Jordan Papirny, Calgary

UNB vs. Concordia: Preview, Prediction, Poll

The AUS Champion and #1 seeded University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds will begin their quest for a University Cup three-peat tomorrow night when they battle the OUA bronze medalists and #8 seeded Concrodia Stingers. Game time is 7PM.

The Stingers hovered just inside and outside of the top ten rankings for much of the year after putting together an 18-7-3 regular season and 6-3 playoff record, eventually falling to the OUA champion McGill Redmen 2 games to 1 in the OUA East final. They rebounded to defeat the York Lions 3-2 in the OUA Bronze Medal game to earn their first berth at the University Cup since 1983-1984.

The Stingers are primarily known for their offense as they tied for 5th (out of 35 teams) in the country with 3.93 goals per game and 8th with 34 shots per game. However, much like the Varsity Reds, their explosive offence did not translate to the power play as the Stingers only connected at a 16.3% clip during the regular season, good for 24th in the country.

Concordia is slightly above average when it comes to keeping the puck out of the net. They surrendered 2.93 goals per game (tied for 14th) and posted a save percentage of 0.910 (tied for 13th). Their penalty kill ranked only 19th at 81%, although they did strike for 5 shorthanded goal during the year. They also gave up an average of 32.5 shots per game, placing them in the lower half of all teams. By comparison, UNB gave up a U Sports-low of 20.9 shots per game.

Much like Queen's last year, it appears the Stingers rely heavily on 4-5 guys to do most of the heavy listing offensively. Unlike the Golden Gaels though, one of those guys is the nation's leading scorer. OUA East MVP and first team all-star Anthony Beauregard finished 2nd in the country in 19 goals and led everyone with 41 assists. His 60 points on the year lapped the field as they were 14 higher than anyone else. Other forwards to keep an eye on include all-rookie team member Massimo Carozza (15 goals, 20 assists), Philippe Sanche (15 goals, 22 points in 21 games), and former Saint John Sea Dog Scott Oke (20 points in 25 games).

Their offensive production from the back-end comes almost entirely from all-rookie team member Carl Neil, who posted 31 points (5 goals, 26 assist) in 28 games from the blue line. Matthieu Desautels (2 goals, 11 assists) was their only other defenceman to reach double-digit points.

In net, Marc-Antoine Turcotte has been their number one guy all year, playing over 90% of their minutes between the pipes. Turcotte had a solid season with 15 wins, a 2.71 goals against average, and 0.915 save percentage.

Some other fun facts about the Stingers:

- This is their 10th appearance a the University Cup. Interestingly, their previous 9 all came consecutively - from 1965 to 1984.

- They have never won a University Cup, finishing 2nd on two separate occasions.

- They are 9-12-2 all-time at the tournament, getting out-scored 94-77 in the process.

- UNB and Concordia have never met at the University Cup. They have previously played 7 exhibition games. After dropping the first two (14-0 in 1978 and 6-3 in 1985), UNB has won the last 5 match-ups. This includes a 4-2 win in Montreal in the fall of 2012 and 7-3 and 5-1 wins in the Pete Kelly Cup in January 2016.

- Dustin Kagan-Fleming of Concordia's The Link newspaper has a game preview.

The Stingers will offer an interesting match-up for UNB with their offensively-focused approach. Most AUS teams that find success against the V-Reds do it by getting out to a lead and then clamping down defensively, keeping the V-Reds attack primarily to the perimeter and limiting quality scoring chances. Very rarely does getting in to a back-and-forth, wide open style of game work for the opposition as the V-Reds can typically more than keep up offensively, but have the defence to limit the other team's shots on goal and possession.

Simply looking at the stats shows us that UNB scored more goals and took more shots on goal than Concordia while giving up fewer goals and significantly fewer shots. They had a slightly better power play, but hold a large advantage on the penalty killing side. We all saw in the AUS Final against St. FX how important special teams can be in game's like this. The one advantage the Stingers may have - at least judging from the regular season - is in goal. Turcotte's numbers were better than Alex Dubeau's, but this does not take into account the fact Dubeau played easily the best hockey of his UNB career during the playoffs.

Simply puy, this is a game UNB should win. A loss would be disastrous. While the Stingers may have the best player in the country in Beauregard, they do not have the depth up and down the line-up to match the V-Reds. If UNB can neutralize the Stingers top line, it could be a long night for Concordia. It should be noted that Beauregard only put up up a single goal to go along with 6 assists  in 7 games against McGill this season, so he may not find the same time and space against a similarly strong Varsity Reds defense that he is used to against some of the lesser OUA teams.

Another factor in play is that none of these Stingers have ever played at the University Cup before, let alone against the host team in what is sure to be a loud, sell-out crowd. By contrast, the V-Reds line-up is littered with guys who have won a National Championship, and some who have already played in 3 national finals. We have saw in the past how much playing in your first University Cup can impact your performance.

Of course in a single elimination tournament anything can happen. The opposing goalie might stand on his head, Dubeau might have an off-night, the V-Reds lack of discipline may finally catch up to them, their penalty kill may let them down etc., but ultimately, expect UNB's depth and relentless fore-check - aided by a hostile environment - to eventually wear down the Stingers and guide them to an opening game victory.

Now it's your turn, who do you think takes the quarter-final match-up?

Who wins?
UNB in a close one (1-2 goals)
UNB in a blowout (3+ goals)
Concordia in a close one (1-2 goals)
Concordia in a blow out (3+ goals)

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

News And Notes: Tickets, UCup Trophy, Preview, Dubeau, Willick, Awards Gala

A few notes of interest leading up to the 2018 University Cup:

- For those looking to purchase tickets to the UNB/Concordia game on Thursday night, there were fewer than 600 tickets remaining as of Tuesday morning.

- The University Cup trophy has been renamed in honour of former governor general David Johnston.

- U Sports men's hockey insider Victor Findlay has posted his University Cup preview. Findlay will also have the call all weekend long on Sportsnet along with Jason York and Nikki Reyes.

- Monty Mosher previews the three AUS entries taking part in this year's tournament.

- Goaltender Alex Dubeau has been named the Subway Atlantic University Sport male athlete of the week. The 3rd year netminder was the AUS playoff MVP after going 5-0 with a 0.940 save percentage. This included making a combined 38 saves in 6-3 and 5-0 victories over St. FX in the AUS Final.

- CBC talks to V-Reds captain Dylan Willick ahead of his final weekend of university hockey.

- CBC also caught up with Mike Thomas about playing in front of a home crowd as well as event co-ordinator Kate Morrison about preparing for this year's tournament.

- Just a reminder the U Sport's men's hockey awards gala takes place tomorrow night - Wednesday, March 14th - at 7:30PM at UNB's Richard J. Currie Center. The event will be headlined by Tara Slone of 'Rogers Hometown Hockey' and sports psychologist Dr. David Scott.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Single Game Tickets Now On Sale

We have encountered many people asking about the availability of single game tickets for the University Cup. They are now on sale at the AUC box office as well as online. The prices are as follows:

Thursday/Friday Quarter-Finals
Adult - $25
Senior - $20
Youth - $15

Saturday Semi-Finals/Sunday Bronze Medal Game
Adult - $30
Seniors - $25
Youth - $20

Sunday Gold Medal Game
Adult - $35
Seniors - $30
Youth - $25

Please note - Should UNB win their quarter-final game on Thursday night they will play in the 12PM semi-final on Saturday.


UNB At The University Cup

The University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds will open their 2018 University Cup on Thursday night at the AUC when they face the Conordia Stingers at 7PM. This will be their 17th appearance all-time at the tournament, including their 15th since 1997 and 12th under head coach Gardiner MacDougall.

Here is how they have fared at the previous 16 tournaments:

1964: 1-1 (Lost in semi-final)
1984: 0-2 (Lost in Atlantic regional)
1997: 1-1 (Lost in final)
1998: 3-0 (Won championship)
2000: 2-1 (Lost in final)
2003: 1-2 (Lost in semi-final + bronze medal game)
2004: 2-1 (Lost in final)
2007: 3-0 (Won championship)
2008: 2-1 (Lost in final)
2009: 3-0 (Won championship)
2011: 3-0 (Won championship)
2012: 1-1 (Lost in semi-final)
2013: 3-0 (Won championship)
2015: 2-1 (Lost in final)
2016: 3-0 (Won championship)
2017: 3-0 (Won championship)

Some notes of interest:

- UNB will be looking to become the first team to three-peat since the 1978-1980 Alberta Golden Bears.

- The V-Reds have also played in three consecutive finals and four out of the last five. The 1977-1980 Golden Bears are the last team to reach four consecutive finals.

- The Varsity Reds 7 championships and 12 championship games rank 3rd to Alberta (15 and 20) and Toronto (13 and 10) all-time.

- Their 5 championship game losses are tied with Alberta and Saint Mary's for 2nd most all-time. Saskatchewan holds the dubious distinction of losing 6 championship games.

- The V-Reds have won 6 titles and appeared in 8 title games in the last 11 years.

- They have appeared in the final in 9 out of their last 10 appearances at the tournament.

- UNB has a 0.750 winning percentage all-time at the University Cup. They are 33-11 in 44 career games, including an astounding 26-6 record under Gardiner MacDougall.

- This includes 18 wins in their last 20 games and 23 wins in their last 26 games.

- They have out-scored the opposition 176-107 in those games.

- UNB has recorded 7 shut-outs at the University Cup. They have never been shut-out.

- They are 6-2 all-time in games decided in overtime.

- This is the 5th time UNB will enter the tournament as the top seed. In the four previous instances they finished 1st (1998), 2nd (2008), 1st (2011), and 3rd (2012).

- They will have now been the top seed in three of the six tournaments they have hosted.

- In the previous five University Cups hosted by UNB they have finished 4th (2003), 2nd (2004), 1st (2011), 3rd (2012), and 1st (2017).

- The Varsity Reds will be playing the Concordia Stingers for the first time ever at the University Cup. Their all-time University Cup record against the other participants is 1-0 against Brock, 1-0 against McGill, 2-0 against Acadia, 4-5 against Alberta, 5-0 against Saskatchewan, and 1-1 against St. FX.

- Next season the University Cup will head out west for the first time since 2013-2014 when the Lethbridge Proghorns host for the first time. The following year it is back in the Maritimes with Acadia playing host to the 2020 tournament in Halifax. 

Sunday, March 11, 2018

University Cup Seeds, Schedule Announced

The University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds will have a target on their back as they look to capture their third consecutive University Cup. The two-time defending champions will open the tournament as the #1 seed and will face the #8 Concordia Stingers in their opening game on Thursday night, U Sports announced today.

Here is the full schedule:

Thursday, March 15th (Quarter-finals)
#4 Brock Badgers vs. #5 St. FX X-Men (1PM)
#1 UNB Varsity Reds vs. #8 Concordia Stingers (7PM)

Friday, March 16th (Quarter-finals)
#2 Alberta Golden Bears vs. #7 Acadia Axemen (1PM)
#3 McGill Redmen vs. #6 Saskatchewan Huskies (7PM)

Saturday, March 17th (Semi-finals)
Brock/St. FX winner vs. UNB/Concordia winner (12PM)
Alberta/Acadia winner vs. McGill/Saskatchewan winner (4PM)

Sunday, March 18th
Bronze Medal Game (12PM)
Gold Medal Game (2PM)

Much to our surprise, the committee decided to keep St. FX ranked ahead of Saskatchewan, which means the top two AUS teams (UNB and St. FX) as well as the top two Canada West teams (Alberta and Saskatchewan) find themselves on the same side of the bracket.

Predicting The Pools

With the McGill Redmen's convincing 5-1 victory over the cinderella Brock Badgers in last night's Queen's Cup, we now know the designation of each of the eight participants at this week's University Cup. With this we can try and predict exactly how the teams will be ranked heading into the tournament.

First, here are the eight teams:

UNB Varsity Reds (AUS Champion)
St. FX X-Men (AUS Finalist)
Acadia Axemen (AUS Bronze medal)
McGill Redmen (OUA Champion)
Brock Badgers (OUA Finalist)
Concordia Stingers (OUA Bronze medal)
Alberta Golden Bears (Canada West Champion)
Saskatchewan Huskies (Canada West Finalist)

Going step by step through section 4.2.2 (Seeding Criteria) of the U Sports men's hockey playing regulations we can attempt to put the participants in the proper order.

Here is what we think the final rankings will look like when they come out later today:

1) The three (3) Sport Conference champions will be seeded 1st, 2nd, and 3rd based on their respective team national ranking in the final Top Ten of the season. The last Top 10 ranking will be done after the Sport Conference playoffs are completed.

By virtue of being their respective conference champions, UNB, Alberta, and McGill must be ranked in the top 3. There will be one more top ten ranking done today, but if we look at last week UNB was ranked #1, Alberta #2, and McGill #4. With both UNB and Alberta sweeping their conference final in impressive fashion, there is no reason for the committee to adjust their rankings. McGilll will slide up from #4 to #3 as required.

So the top three should look like this:
1 - UNB
2 - Alberta
3 - McGill

2. The OUA finalist (either the OUA East or OUA West divisional champion) will be seeded #4.

This one is easy. The Brock Badgers lost in the OUA Final so they will go in as #4.

This now gives us:
1 - UNB
2 - Alberta
3 - McGill
4 - Brock

3. The remaining 4 qualifying teams will be seeded using the final Top Ten of the season as a guiding tool. 
4. Results of regional playoffs must be respected.
5. Once the seeding has been completed, teams 5 through 8 can be flipped no more than two spots (up or down) to try to avoid first round match-ups of teams from the same sport conference. (This means teams seeded 1 through 4 cannot be flipped). 

This is where the committee can start using their own discretion a bit, though the rule saying "results of regional playoffs must be respected" means that the conference finalists (St. FX and Saskactehwan) have to be seeded ahead of conference bronze medal winners (Acadia and Concordia). This mean St. FX and Saskactehwan must be seeded #5 and #6 in some order and Concordia and Acadia must be seeded #7 and #8 in some order.

We will tackle Concordia and Acadia first as that one is easy. Due to rule 5 stating the desire to avoid first round match-ups of teams from the same conference, we can guess that Acadia will be seeded #7 to avoid having to play UNB in the first round. This means Concordia will be #8.

The case of where to seed Saskatchewan and St. FX is a little trickier, and is perhaps the most debated we have seen in quite some time. On one hand St. FX was consistently ranked higher than Saskatchewan all season - including in last week's poll - and they both got swept in their conference final so there is not really a case for Saskatchewan to move ahead of the X-Men. This would mean St. FX goes in #5 and the Huskies #6. However, on the other hand, this puts each team in the same bracket as their conference champion (St. FX with #1 UNB and Saskatchewan with #2 Alberta). 

Although the rules state that the committee can move teams around to avoid first round match-ups of teams from the same conference, we believe they will look to do the same here for potential semi-final match-ups. This would also keep the top two teams from the AUS and Canada West on opposite sides of the draw. 

It will be interesting to see how the committee deals with this situation. While we would not be completely shocked if they put St. FX at #5 and Saskatchewan at #6 our best guess is that the final seedings will be as follows:

1 - UNB
2 - Alberta
3 - McGill
4 - Brock
5 - Saskatchewan
6 - St. FX
7 - Acadia
8 - Concordia

In terms of the schedule - 

6. The Host may flip the brackets to ensure a local team plays at a preferred time to assist with ticket sales. However, the structure of the brackets must be maintained (i.e. 1 vs. 8 and 4 vs. 5 must always stay together and 2 vs. 7 and 3 vs. 6 must stay together) so that common rest times are protected and the integrity of the draw is maintained.

The host gets to choose when they want to open the tournament and we know the #1 Varsity Reds will play their first game on Thursday night against the #8 Concordia Stingers. This means #4 Brock and #5 Saskatchewan will play Thursday afternoon as those four teams, being in the same bracket, all have to play on the same day.

This leaves #2 Alberta vs. #7 Acadia and #3 McGill vs. #6 St. FX playing on Friday in rematches from last year's tournament.  

Saturday, March 10, 2018

University Cup Participants Finalized

The 8-team field for next week's University Cup - kicking off Thursday afternoon at the AUC - was finalized last night with the completion of the OUA bronze medal game and AUS consolation series.

In the OUA the Concordia Stingers defeated the York Lions 3-2 in Montreal to claim the conference's bronze medal and earn their first trip to the national tournament since 1984. Meanwhile, the Acadia Axemen raced out to a 4-0 lead after the 1st period and cruised to a 6-1 victory over Saint Mary's in the 3rd and deciding game of the AUS consolation final, capturing the conference's 3rd place berth at the expense of the Huskies for a second straight season.

These two teams will join the UNB Varsity Reds (AUS Champion), St. FX X-Men (AUS Finalist), Alberta Golden Bears (Canada West Champion), and Saskatchewan Huskies (Canada West Finalist) as teams who have their designation secured. The McGill Redmen and Brock Badgers will face off in the Queen's Cup tonight to determine the OUA Champion and runner-up.

Interestingly, six of the teams in this year's tournament are making return trips. The only new teams from last year are the Stingers and Badgers with only the Queen's Golden Gaels and York Lions failing to get back.

The tournament rankings and schedule are expected to be released Sunday.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

V-Reds Bring Home AUS Championship

(Photo courtesy www.vreds.ca)
The #1 ranked University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds picked a good time to play arguably their most impressive game of the season. The defending University Cup champions played a dominating puck possession and fore-checking game in a 5-0 victory over the St. FX X-Men tonight in Antigonish in game 2 of the best-of-3 AUS Final. With the win UNB sweeps the series, avenges losses in each of the last two AUS Finals, and captures their first conference championship since 2015 and 15th all-time.

The visitors opened the scoring while shorthanded at 14:58 of the 1st period when Mike Thomas (Willick, McIvor) pounced on a bobbled puck at the blue line and raced down the right wing before putting the puck in the far corner, quieting the sell-out crowd. This was the only goal of the period as the V-Reds out-shot the X-Men 11-4 in the frame.

The turning point of the game may have came in the early minutes of the 2nd period. After Alex Dubeau denied a breakaway opportunity at one end then Alexandre Goulet (Gazzola, Boland) brought the puck the other way and snapped a shot past Chase Marchand for a 2-0 advantage at 2:32. The V-Reds power play extended the lead just under 6 minutes later. An Olivier LeBlanc point shot hit a defenders stick and the puck dribbled down low to Chris Clapperton at the side of the net. The 3rd year forward beat Marchand five-hole to make it a 3-0 game, which they would carry into intermission. Shots in the period were 18-10 for UNB.

With only 20 minutes separating V-Reds and an AUS Championship, UNB completely shut-down and neutralized the X-Men in the 3rd period. They held a 15-5 advantage in shots on goal and added a pair of highlight-reel goals to boot. At 3:14 Cameron Brace (McIvor) picked up the puck in the neutral zone and skated down the right side, somehow finding a minuscule opening above Marchand's left shoulder from a sharp angle. Then, at 11:36, the Varsity Reds came into the offensive zone on a 3-on-2 rush. Mark Simpson dropped a pass to Chris Clapperton who peeled to the right before finding Matt Boudens with a slap-pass in the slot. Boudens iced the game by picking the left corner to make it 5-0. Dubeau and the defence took it from there, killing off a couple of late power plays to preserve the shut-out and put an exclamation point on a tremendous all-around game.

- As expected, Oliver Cooper received a suspension after being assessed a game misconduct in game 1 of the series. Trey Lewis was back in the line-up in his place. Peter Trainor remained scratched.

- Shots in the game were 44-19 for UNB.

- Once again Alex Dubeau was a rock between the pipes. Although he only had to make 19 shots in recording his 2nd shut-out of the playoffs, he was forced to make a couple of breakaways as well as a number of other high quality scoring chances.

- Dubeau was named playoff MVP after going a perfect 5-0 with a 1.37 GAA and 0.940 save percentage in the postseason.

- Much of the V-Reds success in this series can be traced to their special teams play. The dangerous St. FX power play went 0 for 6 tonight and 0 for 13 in the series. Meanwhile, UNB victimized the X-Men's top ranked penalty kill 3 times in 6 opportunities in the two games. They were 1 for 3 tonight.

- St. FX won 30 out of 59 face-offs.

- Attendance was a sell-out of 1735.

- Clapperton and Craig Duininck were named the player of the game for their respective teams.

- The X-Men were playing without their leading and 3rd leading scorer in Holden Cook and Matt Needham. They also played much of the game without all-rookie team defenceman Santino Centorame who never returned after leaving early.

- Alexandre Goulet left the game in the 2nd period after getting tied up in front of the net. He missed some time but did eventually return.

- UNB out-scored their opposition 11-2 in the two road playoff games they played this year.

- The V-Reds went undefeated in the playoffs for only the fourth time. They went 6-0 in 1997 (2-0 vs UdeM, 2-0 vs. STU, 2-0 vs. ACA), 5-0 in 2008 (3-0 vs. STU, 2-0 vs. SMU), and 6-0 in 2012 (3-0 vs. UPEI, 3-0 vs. UdeM).

- It has been a rough couple of days for St. FX athletics. On Sunday they fell in the AUS men's basketball championship game against UNB and on Tuesday night the women's hockey team lost 1-0 on home ice to Saint Mary's in the 3rd and deciding game of the final

- In the consolation series, the Saint Mary's Huskies forced a 3rd and deciding game Friday night in Wolfville with a 3-2 home win over the Acadia Axemen.

- The Varsity Reds and X-Men will now prepare for next week's University Cup. UNB will almost certainly enter the tournament as the top seed and will play Thursday night against most likely the winner of Friday night's OUA bronze medal game between the York Lions and Concordia Stingers.

- Stay tuned for more UCup info in the coming days.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Varsity Reds Draw First Blood

The #1 ranked University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead and kept the visiting St. FX X-Men at bay the rest of the game as they took game 1 of the AUS Final by a 6-3 score. The V-Reds will look to close out the series on Wednesday night in Antigonish.

The Varsity Reds had the X-Men on their heels from the get go as they connected just 53 seconds into the contest when Cameron Brace (Caissy, Goulet) banged in a loose puck from in tight past AUS MVP Chase Marchand. UNB doubled their lead 41 seconds later as Tyler Boland (Pomerleau, Boudens) gathered the puck out of a crowd in the slot and snapped it past a screened Marchand. Stephen Anderson then made it a 3-0 game at 3:54 after Boland, standing in front of the net, deflected a Matt Murphy point shot out of the air and right to Anderson at the far side of the net. The 3rd year forward had a wide open cage to shoot at and made no mistake putting it in. The goal prompted a St. FX time-out and though it didn't pay immediate dividends, the X-Men did manage to cut into the lead before the end of the period with the help of a fortuitous bounce. Holden Cook rimmed the puck around the boards behind goaltender Alex Dubeau and it caromed off a stanchion out to Bryson Cianfrone, who had the entire right side of the net to shoot at. The goal past an unsuspecting Dubeau came at 12:18 and cut the deficit to two heading into the intermission. Shots in the frame were 11-6 for UNB.

A back and forth, wide-open 2nd period featured 34 shots on goal - including 23 from the V-Reds - and saw the two teams exchange five goals. At 5:28 Matt Boudens (Brace) snapped a shot from the left face-off circle that eluded Marchnd for a power play goal to restore the three goal advantage. A Sam Studnicka shorthanded goal at 10:22 pulled the X-Men back within two, but the V-Reds quickly responded on the same power play with a bit of a lucky goal of their own when Olivier LeBlanc's (Brace, Caissy) shot from the blue line hit off Marchand, bounced up in the air, and came down behind him where it got pushed across the goal line. The goal, which came at 10:51, made it a 5-2 game. Once again St. FX was able to cut it two thanks to a Matt Needham goal and once again the V-Reds answered. With only 15 seconds remaining in the period Cameron Brace (Pomerleau, Goulet) drove down the left side and to the net. When an X-Men defender attempted a stick check in front of the net the puck fluttered past Marchand for a 6-3 lead. The two teams then played through a fairly uneventful final period with UNB clamping down defensively to seal the victory. Shots in the period were 7-5 for the V-Reds.

- Trey Lewis sat out a one game suspension and Peter Trainor remained out. Oliver Cooper drew back into the line-up.

- Shots in the game were 41-22 for UNB.

- Although St. FX had the most prolific power play and penalty kill in the league in the regular season, special teams played a big part in UNB's success tonight, much like in their last regular season meeting. The V-Reds went 2 for 3 on the man advantage while killing off all 7 of the X-Men's chances, including a 46 second 5-on-3 late in the 1st period.

- The Varsity Reds owned the face-off circle, winning 45 out of 71 draws. Mark Simpson (13 out of 18) and Dylna Willick (12 out of 17) once again led the way.

- Brace, Boudens, and Mark Tremaine were the game's three stars.

- Attendance was 2807.

- Oliver Cooper picked up a game misconduct late in the game when he was called for interference from the bench after engaging in a scuffle with Regan Spears.

- The win snaps a 4 game playoff losing streak to the X-Men.

- Before the game members of the UNB basketball team were honoured and took part in the ceremonial face-off. The team won its first AUS Championship in 51 years with an 84-81 victory over St. FX yesterday in Halifax.

- In the consolation series between Acadia and Saint Mary's, the Axemen also picked up a 6-3 home win. They will attempt to punch their ticket to the University Cup on Wednesday night when game 2 goes in Halifax.

- The Varsity Reds will try to capture the AUS Championship on Wednesday night in Antigonish. Game time is 7PM and it will be streamed live at www.AUStv.ca.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Familiar Foes Set To Battle For AUS Supremacy

The St. FX X-Men stormed out to a 5-0 lead after the first period in game 5 of their semi-final series against the Acadia Axemen last night in Antigonish, but needed to hold on for a nail-biting 6-5 decision to take the series and advance to the AUS Final. They will meet the University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds, who have been off since sweeping Saint Mary's on Monday night, in the best 2-of-3 final for a third consecutive season.

Here is what you need to know to get ready for another clash between two of the top teams in the country:

- The schedule for the series is as follows:

Game 1 - Monday, March 5th at UNB
Game 2 - Wednesday, March 7th at St. FX
Game 3 - Friday, March 9th at UNB (if necessary)

All games will be streamed live at www.AUStv.ca

- The victory over Acadia clinched a berth in the University Cup for St. FX.

- UNB enters the series as the #1 ranked team in the country with the X-Men sliding from 3rd to 5th in the latest poll.

- These two have met in the last two AUS Finals with St. FX sweeping both series 2 games to 0. For UNB, who are playing in their 4th straight AUS Final, they will be looking to get over the hump and avenge the last two years while the X-Men will be looking for a three-peat.

- Of course, the Varsity Reds have ultimately gotten the last laugh in both years, capturing the University Cup, including defeating the X-Men 3-1 in the 2016 National Championship game in Halifax.

- This is the 11th time under Gardiner MacDougall the V-Reds have faced the X-Men in the playoffs, with four of those meetings occurring in the finals.

2001 - Lost 2 games to 1 in semi-finals
2003 - Won 3 games to 1 in finals
2005 - Won 2 games to 0 in quarter-finals
2006 - Won 2 games to 1 in quarter-finals
2007 - Won 3 games to 1 in semi-finals
2010 - Lost 3 games to 0 in semi-finals
2011 - Won 3 games to 2 in finals
2015 - Won 3 games to 2 in semi-finals
2016 - Lost 2 games to 0 in finals
2017 - Lost 2 games to 0 in finals

- UNB has won 6 out of the previous 10 series.

- Although they a slight 17-16 record overall, UNB has lost 11 out of their last 17 playoff games against the X-Men.

- The two teams have split their four previous finals match-ups with the V-Reds emerging victorious in 2003 and in an epic series in 2011.

- The Varsity Reds will look to have better success in Antigonish, where they are only 4-11. They are 13-5 in games played at the AUC.

- This marks the 11th AUS Final appearance under Gardiner MacDougall, including the 7th in the last 8 years. They will be looking for a 7th AUS Championship and to improve on a 16-13 record in finals games.

2003 - Defeated St. FX 3 games to 1 
2006 - Lost to Acadia 3 games to 0
2007 - Lost to Moncton 2 games to 0
2008 - Defeated Saint Mary's 2 games to 0
2009 - Lost to Saint Mary's 2 games to 1
2011 - Defeated St. FX 3 games to 2
2012 - Defeated Moncton 3 games to 0
2013 - Defeated Saint Mary's 2 games to 1
2015 - Defeated Acadia 2 games to 0
2016 - Lost to St. FX 2 games to 0
2017 - Lost to St. FX 2 game to 0

- St. FX will be looking to add to their conference leading total of 26 AUS banners. UNB ranks 2nd with 14 all-time, one ahead of Saint Mary's.

- It is a fitting end to the AUS season as the Varsity Reds and X-Men were neck and neck all season with first place only being decided in the last head to head game on the final weekend of the season. The V-Reds finished the season 24-2-4 with St. FX right behind them at 22-4-2.

- The two teams played five regular season games, with UNB going 3-1-1 and the X-Men posting a 2-2-1 record. In the first match-up of the season on November 10th the Varsity Reds took a 5-3 decision at the AUC. The X-Men then responded with a pair of wins - 3-2 in overtime on November 17th and then a shocking 5-2 domination at the AUC on January 6th, handing UNB their first regular season home loss in over two years. However, the Varsity Reds came back with a big 2-1 shootout win in Antigonish on January 13th before clinching first place with a solid 5-2 victory on February 9th.

- UNB's last three home losses have all come at the hands of St. FX. The aforementioned game earlier this season plus losses in each of the last two finals (2-1 last year and 3-2 in 2016). The last time they lost a home game to a non-St. FX team was on October 30th, 2015 against Acadia (3-2 in a shootout).

- The X-Men have a number of dangerous players to watch for, but perhaps no one will be more important to their success than goaltender and AUS MVP Chase Marchand. Marchand led the conference in wins (16) an save percentage (0.924) and was just behind Alex Dubeau in goals against average (2.38 vs. 2.31). Not to mention the fact Marchand has played some of his best hockey in his two year AUS career versus the V-Reds.

Offensively, the X-Men are led by top-ten scorers Holden Cook (6th with 10 goals, 27 assists) and first team all-star Michael Clarke (7th with 17 goals, 17 assists) as well as Matt Needham (29 points in 29 games) and Mark tremaine (23 points). Their defensive corps is one of the most offensively-gifted in the league with first team all-star Jagger Dirk (2nd amongst D-men with 28 points), second team all-star Cole MacDonald (25 points), and all-rookie team member Santino Centorame (18 points in 24 games) doing most of the heavy lifting.

- Much like last year, while both teams know they will be at Nationals, the outcome of this series will have big implications on seeding. If UNB wins they will almost certainly remain the #1 ranked team in the country and enter the tournament seeded as such. This means they would face the #8 seed in their first game, which most likely would be the OUA bronze medalists. They would also earn the right to be the designated home team and have last change for every game. If the V-Reds lose, however, the best they can hope for is the #5 seed, which would make them the road team for their first game against the OUA runner-up. They would also be put them in the same pool as the #1 ranked team. They could also drop as low as 6th depending on how the other conference play-offs shake out.

- The Acadia Axemen and Saint Mary's Huskies will play a best 2-of-3 series to determine the third AUS entry at the University Cup. The schedule for that series will mirror that of the finals - Monday in Wolfville, Wednesday in Halifax, and Friday back in Acadia if necessary.

- Prediction time. Who do you got taking the 2018 AUS Championship?


Who wins the 2018 AUS Final?

UNB in 2
UNB in 3
St. FX in 2
St. FX in 3
Created with PollMaker

Monday, February 26, 2018

V-Reds Sweep Huskies

The #1 ranked University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds have advanced to their 4th consecutive AUS Final thanks to a 6-2 victory over the Saint Mary's Huskies tonight in Halifax. After a pair of tense one goal games in Fredericton, UNB completes a sweep of the best 3-of-5 semi-final series with a convincing win and now await the winner of the St. FX/Acadia series.

- Matt Murphy (Boland, Anderson) scored the lone goal of the 1st period at 11:26 after stepping up in the neutral zone to intercept the puck, executing a give-and-go in the offensive zone, and driving down the left side before sliding the puck past Eric Brassard.

- The V-Reds busted the game wide open in the 2nd period, scoring four straight goals to jump out to a 5-0 lead. Finding the back of the net were Christopher Clapperton (Anderson) at 1:16, Kris Bennett (Willick) at 4:00, Dylan Willick (Bennett, Gazzola) at 8:02, and Clapperton (Gazzola, Murphy) again at 14:28. The Huskies finally stopped the onslaught with an Aaron Berisha power play goal at 16:19 to make it 5-1 after 40 minutes.

- The two teams traded power play goals late in the 3rd period with Tyler Boland (Anderson, Gazzola) restoring UNB's five goal cushion at 14:01 before Stephen Johnson rounded out the scoring at 18:10.

- Shots in the game were 25-23 for Saint Mary's. This marked a season-low in shots on goal for the V-Reds and they only managed 80 in the entire series, well below their regular season average of 39 per game. Furthermore, they have been held below 31 shots in 6 out of their last 7 games dating back to the regular season.

- Peter Trainor and Oliver Cooper were both out of the line-up.

- Alex Dubeau was once again solid in goal for UNB. Berisha's 2nd period goal snapped a 148:03 scoreless streak for Dubeau, dating back to Bradley Latour's shorthanded goal early in the 2nd period of game 1. It also ended a string of nine consecutive V-Reds goals in the series.

- The V-Reds went 1 for 6 on the power play. SMU was 1 for 8.

- Trey Lewis received a 5 minute major and game misconduct for contact to the head only 45 seconds after Murphy opened the scoring. Once again, the V-Reds penalty kill stepped up with a Kris Bennett shorthanded breakaway being the best chance by either team during the man advantage.

- As a result of the misconduct, we can expect to see Lewis suspended for at least the first game of the AUS Final.

- Face-offs were heavily in favour of UNB at 40-28. Dylan Willick led the way with 13 wins in 20 chances.

- This is the first time UNB have swept Saint Mary's in a best-of-5 series. They have swept them in a best-of-3 series in both 2003 and 2008.

- Attendance was 1080.

- After losing 1-0 last night, St. FX got a late go-ahead power play goal to defeat Acadia 4-3 and knot their series at two game apiece. Game 5 will go Thursday night in Antigonish.

- While the V-Reds will await the winner of that game to see who they play in the best 2-of-3 AUS Final (schedule TBD), the Huskies will face the loser in a consolation series to determine the conference's third and final berth and the University Cup.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Gazzola, Bennett Capture Major Awards

The first place University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds were well represented as the AUS announced the 2017-2018 men's hockey major award winners and all-stars earlier this week.

Defenceman Randy Gazzola was the big winner as he was the only player to take home a pair of major honours. The 4th year veteran claimed the Don Wells Trophy as the most sportsmanlike player as well as the coveted Godfrey Award, which recognizes both a player's on-ice and off-ice contributions. Gazzola was also named a second team all-star along with teammates Kris Bennett and Christopher Clapperton.

Varsity Reds leading scorer Kris Bennett was also recognized, being named the recipient of the A.J. MacAdam Trophy as the conference's top rookie. Bennett finished 2nd in the conference with 18 goals and 5th overall in points with 38 while also playing a key role on both special team's units. Bennett is joined on the all-rookie team with goaltender Rylan Parenteau.

Here is the full list of award winners and all-stars:

Most Valuable Player (Kelly Trophy) - G Chase Marchand, St. FX
Rookie if the Year (A.J. MacAdam Trophy) - F Kris Bennett, UNB
Coach of the Year (Bob Boucher Trophy) - Brad Peddle, St. FX
Most Sportsmanlike Player (Don Wells Trophy) - D Randy Gazzola, UNB
Student-Athlete Community Service Award (Godfrey Award) - D Randy Gazzola, UNB

All major award winners will now become the AUS nominee for the respective U Sports award, which will be presented at the University Cup Awards Gala on Wednesday, March 14th at the Richard J. Currie Center.

First Team All-Stars

G - Chase Marchand, St. FX
D - Jagger Dirk, St. FX
D - Ryan MacKinnon, UPEI
F - Hunter Garlent, SMU
F- Stephen Harper, ACA
F - Michael Clarke, St. FX

Second Team All-Stars

G - Corbin Boes, DAL
D - Randy Gazzola, UNB
D - Cole MacDonald, ST. FX
F - Kris Bennett, UNB
F - Christopher Clapperton, UNB
F - Boston Leier, ACA

All-Rookie Team

G - Rylan Parenteau, UNB
D - Santino Centorame, St. FX
D - Dylan DiPerna - SMU
F - Kris Bennett, UNB
F - Kameron Kielly, UPEI
F - Jake Coughler, SMU

Friday, February 23, 2018

PK, Dubeau Stymie Huskies

A Cameron Brace power play goal, 24 saves from Alex Dubeau, and a lights-out penalty kill fueled the #1 ranked University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds to a 1-0 victory over the #4 Saint Mary's Huskies tonight at the AUC. UNB now has a 2-0 series lead in the best 3-of-5 semi-final.

- The V-Reds dominated the early going, out-shooting the Huskies 10-1 midway through the first period, but the Huskies weathered the storm and began to push back some during the latter half of the frame. UNB ultimately held a 12-5 advantage in shots on goal in a scoreless opening twenty minutes.

- A key story this game was the Varsity Reds penalty kill, and they were put to a massive test early in the 2nd period. Beginning at the 3:44 mark the V-Reds took four consecutive penalties over a a 4:16 span, leaving them shorthanded for 8 minutes out of a stretch of 8:25 of game time. Not only did UNB manage to kill them all off, they received their first power play of the game just 8 seconds after the last penalty expired and they took advantage. With what looked like another lackluster power play winding down, Cameron Brace (Boudens, LeBlanc) got time and space to carry the puck down the left side and let go a wrist shot along the ice that caught the inside of the far post for the game's first goal at the 14:00 mark. Despite scoring the loan goal in the period, the V-Reds were out-shot 12-7 in the frame.

- Alexandre Goulet had a gilt-edged chance to extend the lead in the 3rd period, but his attempt to navigate the puck between the Eric Brassards out-stretched skate and the post died on the goal line, leaving the game 1-0.

- The penalty kill was presented with one last challenge. After Mark Simpson's errant stick caught a Huskies player up high with 1:59 remaining, the Varsity Reds were forced to protect the slim lead with one of their top face-off men and penalty killers unavailable. The difficulty was further compounded when Saint Mary's gained control of the puck in the offensive zone, which allowed them to remove Brassard and make it a 6-on-4. However, the V-Reds penalty killers - and Dubeau - were once again up to the task and they fended off the Huskies last gasp to preserve a nail-biting victory. Shots in the period were 8-7 for UNB.

- Tristan Pomerleau was back in the line-up after serving an automatic one game suspension. Peter Trainor and Oliver Cooper were both out.

- Shots in the game were 27-24 for UNB.

- The V-Reds went 1 for 2 on the power play while killing off all 6 of Saint Mary's opportunities.

- Alex Dubeau was sensational in net as he earned his first career playoff shutout.

- After dominating in the face-off circle last night, the V-Reds struggled tonight in winning only 27 out of 62 face-offs.

- Dubeau, Brassard, and Brace were the three stars.

- Attendance was 2730.

- This is the 5th straight one goal game between these two teams this year. UNB has won 4 of those.

- UNB's last playoff shutout was in 2016 when Etienne Marcoux blanked UPEI. It should be noted that they have two University Cup shut-outs since then - 4-0 against Saint Mary's in 2016 and 3-0 versus Acadia last year.

- 5 out of UNB's last 7 playoff/University Cup shut-outs have come against Saint Mary's.

- The St. FX X-Men evened their semi-final series against the Acadia Axemen with a 3-0 win tonight in Antigonish. The series will now shift to Wolfville for game 3 on Sunday night and game 4 on Monday night.

- The Varsity Reds will look to complete the sweep on Monday evening in Halifax. Game time is scheduled for 7PM.