Monday, March 5, 2018

Varsity Reds Draw First Blood

The #1 ranked University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead and kept the visiting St. FX X-Men at bay the rest of the game as they took game 1 of the AUS Final by a 6-3 score. The V-Reds will look to close out the series on Wednesday night in Antigonish.

The Varsity Reds had the X-Men on their heels from the get go as they connected just 53 seconds into the contest when Cameron Brace (Caissy, Goulet) banged in a loose puck from in tight past AUS MVP Chase Marchand. UNB doubled their lead 41 seconds later as Tyler Boland (Pomerleau, Boudens) gathered the puck out of a crowd in the slot and snapped it past a screened Marchand. Stephen Anderson then made it a 3-0 game at 3:54 after Boland, standing in front of the net, deflected a Matt Murphy point shot out of the air and right to Anderson at the far side of the net. The 3rd year forward had a wide open cage to shoot at and made no mistake putting it in. The goal prompted a St. FX time-out and though it didn't pay immediate dividends, the X-Men did manage to cut into the lead before the end of the period with the help of a fortuitous bounce. Holden Cook rimmed the puck around the boards behind goaltender Alex Dubeau and it caromed off a stanchion out to Bryson Cianfrone, who had the entire right side of the net to shoot at. The goal past an unsuspecting Dubeau came at 12:18 and cut the deficit to two heading into the intermission. Shots in the frame were 11-6 for UNB.

A back and forth, wide-open 2nd period featured 34 shots on goal - including 23 from the V-Reds - and saw the two teams exchange five goals. At 5:28 Matt Boudens (Brace) snapped a shot from the left face-off circle that eluded Marchnd for a power play goal to restore the three goal advantage. A Sam Studnicka shorthanded goal at 10:22 pulled the X-Men back within two, but the V-Reds quickly responded on the same power play with a bit of a lucky goal of their own when Olivier LeBlanc's (Brace, Caissy) shot from the blue line hit off Marchand, bounced up in the air, and came down behind him where it got pushed across the goal line. The goal, which came at 10:51, made it a 5-2 game. Once again St. FX was able to cut it two thanks to a Matt Needham goal and once again the V-Reds answered. With only 15 seconds remaining in the period Cameron Brace (Pomerleau, Goulet) drove down the left side and to the net. When an X-Men defender attempted a stick check in front of the net the puck fluttered past Marchand for a 6-3 lead. The two teams then played through a fairly uneventful final period with UNB clamping down defensively to seal the victory. Shots in the period were 7-5 for the V-Reds.

- Trey Lewis sat out a one game suspension and Peter Trainor remained out. Oliver Cooper drew back into the line-up.

- Shots in the game were 41-22 for UNB.

- Although St. FX had the most prolific power play and penalty kill in the league in the regular season, special teams played a big part in UNB's success tonight, much like in their last regular season meeting. The V-Reds went 2 for 3 on the man advantage while killing off all 7 of the X-Men's chances, including a 46 second 5-on-3 late in the 1st period.

- The Varsity Reds owned the face-off circle, winning 45 out of 71 draws. Mark Simpson (13 out of 18) and Dylna Willick (12 out of 17) once again led the way.

- Brace, Boudens, and Mark Tremaine were the game's three stars.

- Attendance was 2807.

- Oliver Cooper picked up a game misconduct late in the game when he was called for interference from the bench after engaging in a scuffle with Regan Spears.

- The win snaps a 4 game playoff losing streak to the X-Men.

- Before the game members of the UNB basketball team were honoured and took part in the ceremonial face-off. The team won its first AUS Championship in 51 years with an 84-81 victory over St. FX yesterday in Halifax.

- In the consolation series between Acadia and Saint Mary's, the Axemen also picked up a 6-3 home win. They will attempt to punch their ticket to the University Cup on Wednesday night when game 2 goes in Halifax.

- The Varsity Reds will try to capture the AUS Championship on Wednesday night in Antigonish. Game time is 7PM and it will be streamed live at www.AUStv.ca.