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.