Saturday, January 27, 2018

Line-Up Shuffle Sparks Offense

The U Sports #1 ranked University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds tinkered with their forward lines before their game against the visiting Universite de Moncton Aigles Bleus and it paid immediate dividends. Each member of the newly constructed top-6 found the back of the net - and accounted for all seven goals - in a 7-4 win tonight at the AUC. UNB rebounds from a rare regulation loss earlier in the week to move to 21-2-3 on the season, climbing back within one point of the idle 21-1-4 St. FX X-Men.

The Varsity Reds got off to a hot start in this one, striking for three goals in the opening period as they out-shot their visitors 13-2. They got the ice-breaker just 1:28 in when Chris Clapperton (Anderson) broke in with Alexandre Goulet on a 2-on-1 and his cross-ice pass deflected off of a defenceman's skate and past goaltender Brandon Thibeau. At 12:54 Tyler Boland (Bennett, Anderson) doubled the lead while on the power play after banging the puck in from the side of the net. They made it 3-0 at 17:09 thanks to a great shorthanded effort from Goulet (Bennett, Suellentrop) that was reminiscent of his shoot-out winner against St. FX a couple week ago. The rookie won a race to a loose puck near the Moncton bench, cut towards the goal, and held the puck long enough to get Thibeau down before firing it in the top of the cage.

The two teams traded goals in the middle stanza. Robbie Graham got Moncton on the board at 7:15 to cut the lead to 3-1, but Cameron Brace (Bennett, Suellentrop) restored the three goal advantage at 15:12 when he took a breakaway pass and went forehand to backhand, sliding the puck between  Thibeau's legs to give UNB a 4-1 lead that they would take into the intermission. Shots in the period were 18-3 in the period - and 31-5 through 40 minutes - for the Varsity Reds.

The 3rd period was Moncton's best of the night as they out-shot UNB 14-12, but they were only able to match the V-Reds on the scoreboard with each team striking for three goal outbursts. The Varsity Reds put the game away early in the period with goals from Stephen Anderson (Clapperton, Bennett), on the power play at 0:59, Bennett unassisted at 1:31, and Anderson (Clapperton, Goulet) again at 4:09 to build a 7-1 advantage. The Aigles Bleus answered with goals at 15:31, 17:33, and 19:12 to make the score look a bit more respectable, but that was as close as they could get as UNB rolled to a comfortable 7-4 win.

- Shots in the game were 43-19.

- Peter Trainor was back in the line-up, replacing Chris Caissy. Trey Lewis remained out.

- The new top-6 featured the trio of Anderson-Goulet-Clapperton on one line and Bennett-Boland-Brace on the other. They combined for 7 goals and 9 assists on the night.

- Rylan Parenteau remained undefeated on the season, stopping 15 out of 19 shots to go to 8-0-0.

- UNB was 2 for 4 on the power play. Moncton was 1 for 5.

- Anderson (2 goals, 2 assists), Bennett (1 goal, 4 assists), and Goulet (1 goal, 1 assist) were the game's three stars.

- This was Bennett's 2nd five point game of the season. He is now tied with Saint Mary's forward Anthony Repaci for the conference lead with 16 goals while his 30 points are the most for a UNB rookie since Philippe Maillet put up 41 during the 2013-2014 season.

- UNB won 41 out of 75 face-offs.

- Attendance was 2260.

- Before the game Alex Dubeau and Marcus McIvor were presented as this year's recipients of the Ross "Punchy" Walker award.

- Although we very rarely mention other sports on here, we need to send a special shout-out and congratulations to star Varsity Reds basketball player Javon Masters, who was honoured and participated in the ceremonial face-off prior to the game. In Friday night's 104-96 victory over Saint Mary's the 5th year point guard scored 39 points to become the leading scorer in U Sports history with 2296 career points and counting.

- In the only other game in the AUS tonight the Acadia Axemen's recent woes continued in a 6-2 loss in Halifax to Dalhousie.

- With only 4 games left in the regular season, the standings look like this:

xy  SFX: 21-1-4 = 46 points
xy  UNB: 22-2-3 = 45
x  SMU: 16-8-2 = 34
x  ACA: 15-9-2 = 32
x  UPEI: 8-17-1 = 17
DAL: 7-18-1 = 15
UdeM: 3-21-2 = 8

xy = clinched first round playoff bye
x = clinch ed playoff berth

- The Varsity Reds wrap up the road portion of their regular season schedule next weekend with a pair of crucial games in Nova Scotia. On Friday night they visit Halifax and Saint Mary's and then on Saturday night they travel to Wolfville to face Acadia. Both games are set for a 7PM puck drop and can be viewed at www.AUStv.ca.