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