Friday, February 2, 2018

Road Win Vaults V-Reds Into First

Moments after the Dalhousie Tigers put the finishing touches on a shocking 7-3 win over the U Sports #1 ranked St. FX X-Men, the #2 ranked University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds hung on for a wild 5-4 victory over the # 7 Saint Mary's Huskies tonight in Halifax to jump back into first place in the AUS. UNB is now 22-2-3 on the season, one point up on the 21-2-4 X-Men with each team having 3 games remaining.

Much like their meeting a few weeks ago at the AUC, it looked like UNB would put the game to bed early. They controlled play from the get-go and were finally rewarded with a pair of breakaway goals only 22 seconds apart late in the period. At 14:38 Tyler Boland (Bennett, Brace) got the puck at the Huskies blue line and took advantage of a defenceman who fell down to break in all alone on goaltender Eric Brassard, going backhand to forehand to slide the puck between Brassard's legs for his 6th goal of the year. Then at 15:00 Chris Clapperton (LeBlanc, McIvor) took a long stretch pass as he split the defence and went left to right to backhand the puck just inside the post to make it 2-0. However, the Huskies got back into it at 17:46 thanks to some good work in the offensive zone. After a battle in the corner Jake Coughler gloved the puck down and fed Calder Brooks in the slot for a quick snap shot that beat Alex Dubeau. UNB would take a 2-1 lead into the intermission after out-shooting Saint Mary's 11-5 in the period.

The Varsity Reds were able to restore their two goal lead early in the 2nd period while on the power play. UNB held the zone as the Huskies were looking to clear and the puck eventually found its way to Clapperton (Bennett, Anderson) all alone at the side of the net for the easy tap-in to make it 3-1 at 1:36. The Huskies then exploded for three goals in the next 7 minutes to take the lead. At 4:20 Thomas Stavert ripped a wrist shot from the slot to get Saint Mary's back within one. Just over two minutes later Alex Peters, while shorthanded, cleared the puck off the boards that took a favourable bounce into the neutral zone. Stephen Johnson tracked down the loose puck and got in behind the defence, beating Dubeau off the rush to tie the game. The Huskies would take their only lead of the night at 8:39 when Hunter Garlent was on the receiving end of a cross-ice pass down low that the superstar forward put in short side. Despite losing their lead, the V-Reds were able to quickly recover and tie the game just 1:21 later. Clapperton (Anderson, Suellentrop) came off the boards with the puck in the high slot and shot back against the grain, putting the puck off the post and in to complete the hat-trick. After the five goal flurry in the first half of the period there was no more scoring over the latter half as the two teams would remain tied 4-4 after forty minutes. Shots in the period were 19-12 for SMU.

After a wild first two periods, the 3rd period was a bit more tame. The V-Reds out-shot the Huskies 7-6 in the frame and Mark Simpson's unassisted goal - a harmless looking shot from the top of the face-off circle that deflected and skipped past Brassard at 9:42 - stood up as the game winner.

- Chris Caissy replaced Matt Boudens in the line-up. Peter Trainor was also out.

- Shots were 30 apiece.

- UNB was 1 for 6 on the power play. SMU was 1 for 5.

- The V-Reds won 47 out of 92 face-offs with Boland (12 out of 22) and Willick (11 out of 19) having the best night's in the dot.

- Attendance was 578.

- Simpson's goal broke a streak of 14 straight goals scored by the top-6 forwards. The last goal that wasn't scored by Clapperton/Goulet/Anderson/Boland/Brace/Bennett was a 3rd period tally by Olivier LeBlanc in UNB's 6-0 win over Acadia on January 20th.

- UNB improves to 9-10-3 at the Halifax Forum against SMU since 2010-2011.

- As previously mentioned, the Dalhousie Tigers defeated St. FX 7-3 in Antigonish for their 5th straight win. On the other end of  the spectrum, the Acadia Axemen dropped their 5th in a row with a 6-3 loss at the hands of the UPEI Panthers in Wolfville.

- The Varsity Reds hope to add to Acadia's recent struggles tonight when they travel down the highway to face the Axemen. Game time is 7PM and it can be seen at www.AUStv.ca.