Saturday, January 20, 2018

V-Reds Stifle Axemen

The #6 ranked Acadia Axemen entered their game against the #1 ranked University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds as the highest scoring team in the country, but the V-Reds completely neutered their visitors in an impressive 6-0 victory at the AUC. UNB maintains their first place AUS standing, improving to 20-1-3 on the season while Acadia falls to 4th place with a 15-7-2 record.

The home side got on the board early as Cameron Brace - playing on the first line after a bit of a line-up shuffle - came out from behind the net with the puck and had it roll off the end of his stick right to Christopher Clapperton, who wasted little time in beating Robert Steeves from the bottom of the left face-off circle with a snap shot. Tyler Boland also picked up an assist on the goal that came 1:22 into the contest. That was the only marker in the period as UNB out-shot Acadia 9-5.

The 2nd period was all Varsity Reds as they threw 21 shots on Steeves to only 4 directed Alex Dubeau's way. Despite the tilted ice for the majority of the period, it wasn't until 14:10 that UNB was able to extend their lead when Clapperton (Boland, Pomerleau) raced down the right side and cut in towards the net, sneaking a backhanded shot between Steeves and the post on the short side. They struck again just 46 seconds later on a 3-on-2. Matt Boudens carried the puck into the offensive zone and left a drop pass for a trailing Mark Simpson, who fired a shot past a screened Steeves into the left side of the net. Tristan Pomerleau got another helper on the goal that made it a 3-0 game, which is how it would stay until the 3rd period.

Tempers began to flare in the 3rd as the two teams accounted for 19 penalties and 54 penalty minutes. When they were playing hockey the Varsity Reds put the game to bed with three more goals. At 7:34 Brace (Boland, Goulet) came down the left side and used his speed to get in alone before beating Steeves to make it 4-0. A little over four minutes later Matt Boudens and Olivier LeBlanc came in on a 2-on-0 with LeBlanc passing to Boudens before Boudens returned the favour, setting up the rookie defenceman for a one-timer goal. Brace (Boland, Murphy) rounded out the scoring with his second of the period at 14:54 when his shot tipped off the end of Steeves glove and dropped behind him and in to the net. With the game well in hand all that was left was preserving the shut-out, but the V-Reds made it difficult on themselves when they took a pair of penalties - one at 18:01 and another at 18:28 - to put Acadia on a 5-on-3 for the rest of the game. However, like the majority of the night, the Axemen weren't able to generate much offense and UNB wrapped up a dominating effort. Shots in the period were 7-6 for the Varsity Reds.

- Shots in the game were 37-15 for UNB.

- Colin Suellentrop was back in the line-up. Oliver Cooper and Peter Trainor were both scratched. The Axmen, for their part, are still battling numerous injuries as they played two skaters short tonight.

- If there was an area where the V-Reds struggled, it was on the power play. They went 0 for 5 and didn't look particularly dangerous at any point. On the other end of the spectrum was their penalty killing, which was excellent in denying all 8 of Acadia's power play opportunities.

- Although Alex Dubeau wasn't very busy and didn't face very many high quality scoring chances, he did what he had to do to pick up his 2nd shut-out of the season. In his last three starts - against St. FX, Saint Mary's, and Acadia - he has given up only 3 goals on 66 shots.

- UNB won 47 out of 76 face-offs with Dylan Willick (12 out of 19) and Mark Simpson (12 out of 17) doing the heavy lifting. Defenceman Matt Murphy even chipped in with a win after Mark Simpson was kicked out of the circle on the 5-on-3 penalty kill late in the game.

- Clapperton (2 goals, 1 assist), Brace (2 goals, 1 assist), and Boland (4 assists) were the three stars.

- Attendance was 2588.

- This is the 10th straight year UNB has won at least 20 regular season games.

- The Axemen tied their season-low of 15 shots on goal, which they also did in their 7-2 loss at the AUC on October 27th. They only managed 21 shots in a 5-1 loss last night against UPEI. Needless to say, it was not a great weekend for Acadia after opening the second half with four straight wins.

- With their 6 goal outburst UNB has moved ahead of the Axemen in goals scored. They now have 102 to Acadia's 101. They are the only two teams in the country thus far to break triple digits.

- Boland is an AUS-leading +21 on the season.

- AUS leading scorer Stephen Harper had a team-high 4 shots on goal for Acadia, but was a -3 on the night.

- UNB is 28-0-3 in their last 31 home games versus the Axemen. The last time Acadia beat UNB in regulation at the AUC was on March 7, 2006 in game 3 of the AUS Final.

- In other AUS games tonight, St. FX kept the pressure on the V-Reds with a 5-1 win against Moncton in Antigonish and Saint Mary's scored three unanswered goals in the 3rd period to pick up a 5-2 road win over UPEI.

- The Varsity Reds are back in action on Wednesday night when they are in PEI to face the Panthers before returning to the AUC on Saturday night for a date with the Moncton Aigles Bleus.