Friday, September 28, 2018

Reds Hang On To Post Opening Night Win

The University of New Brunswick Reds won their 8th straight season opener and 30th straight home opener, but not before having to weather a last minute flurry from the UPEI Panthers to eke out a 4-3 victory tonight at the AUC.

The Reds got off to a quick 2-0 lead and looked to be well on their way to cruising to an opening night win. Kris Bennett (Clapperton, Boland) got the first goal of the season 2:15 into the contest after a Clapperton pass from the corner found him all alone in front of the net. Bennett made a nice deke before lifting the puck past rookie goaltender Simon Hofley. Just over a minute later UNB struck again with Cameron Brace (Simpson, Cooper) doing the honours to double the lead and force the visitors into calling a time-out. The move paid immediate dividends. Despite the Reds controlling play and dominating the shot clock the Panthers fought back and got on the board at 5:40 when Cody Payne went in all alone, made a move to get Rylan Parenteau moving side to side, and slipped a backhanded shot along the ice five-hole to cut the deficit to a goal. UPEI was much better in the latter part of the period but there would be no more scoring in the frame. Shots in the period were 13-10 for UNB.

The Reds were able to restore the two goal advantage at the six minute mark. After holding the puck in the offensive zone it was worked down to Stephen Anderson (Boucher, LeBlanc) at the right face-off dot and his snap shot found the top right corner. Once again, the Panthers responded. At 9:53 Kameron Kielly was able to shake Olivier LeBlanc at the UNB blue line and went in on a breakaway, beating Parenteau with a backhanded shot. The visitors then squared the game 3-3 at 17:48 while on the power play when Kielly found Gabe Guertler at the side of the net for the equalizer. Shots favoured UNB 13-8 in the period.

UNB were given a great chance to re-take the lead early in the 3rd period after the Panthers took a pair of penalties within 49 seconds in the period's opening minutes. However, the Reds couldn't convert on the lengthy two man advantage. Another UPEI penalty at 4:49 gave UNB another chance and this time they made it count. With the power play winding down Joe Gatenby (Brace, Boucher) sifted a shot from the blue line through traffic that caught the inside of the post and went in. It was Gatenby's first career AUS goal and would ultimately prove to be the game winner, but not before some last minute drama. With just 1:02 remaining in the game Alexandre Goulet took a slashing penalty which allowed the Panthers to operate a 6-on-4 power play after pulling their goalie. They maintained offensive zone pressure for the majority of the final 62 seconds, but the defence and Parenteau stood tall to preserve the 4-3 win. UNB had an 11-4 shot advantage in the period.

- Randy Gazzola (injured), James McEwan, and Patrick Watling were all out of the line-up for UNB. Alex Dubeau was dressed as the back-up tonight after missing the pre-season due to a minor injury.

- The Reds announced yesterday that 4th year defenceman Marcus McIvor will serve as the team captain this season. Mark Simpson, Matt Boudens, Christopher Clapperton, and Randy Gazzola will serve as the alternates

- Shots in the game were 37-22 for UNB.

- UNB was 1 for 7 on the power play. UPEI was 1 for 5.

- The Reds won 41 out of 74 face-offs. Boland had the best night with 15 wins in 23 chances.

- Gatenby, Guertler, and Brace were named the game's three stars.

- Attendance was 2388.

- This is how UNB lined up, at least at the beginning of the game:

Bennett - Boland - Clapperton
Rassell - Boucher - Anderson
Cooper - Simpson - Brace
Goulet - Dove-McFalls - Boudens

Carroll - McIvor
Gatenby - Pomerleau
LeBlanc - Murphy

Parenteau
Dubeau

- Before the game a moment of silence was held for the victims of the Fredericton shootings on August 10th as well as the for the victims of the Humboldt Broncos bus crash on April 6th. Former Bronco - and current Panther - Nick Shumlanski was also acknowledged and he received the longest ovation of the night.

- In other AUS action tonight, Acadia rebounded from a 5-1 loss to Dalhousie on Wednesday to beat St. FX 2-1 in overtime in Wolfville and Saint Mary's defeated Dalhousie 6-1 in the Huskies home opener.

- Tomorrow night UNB is in Moncton for the Aigles Bleus home opener. Both teams will look to move to 2-0-0 on the young season after Moncton beat UPEI 5-3 in Charlottetown on Wednesday. Game time is 7PM.