Saturday, November 17, 2018

Twice Is Nice

For the second consecutive Friday night the #1 nationally ranked University of New Brunswick Reds and rival St. FX X-Men met - this time in Antigonish - and once again the final result was a dominating performance for UNB, this time to the tune of a 5-1 final score. The win allows the Reds to tighten their grip on 1st place as they improve to 11-0-2 on the season, five points clear of 2nd place Saint Mary's. The X-Men remain in 3rd place with a 7-4-2 mark, 8 points back.

The X-Men were in penalty trouble right from the get-go in this one, taking five minor penalties in the first nine minutes of the game, and Stephen Anderson made them pay twice. His first came as a 5-on-3 was winding down, converting a nice passing play with Christopher Clapperton and Olivier LeBlanc at 3:41. Then, at 9:59, Anderson (Boland, Bennett) struck again, pouncing on a rebound in front and easily depositing it around X-Men goalie Blade Mann-Dixon. After surrendering the first nine shots on goal of the game, St. FX were finally credited with their first of the night with 5:21 left in the period. A couple late power plays tilted the momentum in favour of the home side, but the Reds maintained their 2-0 lead through twenty minutes, holding a 10-7 advantage in shots.

Despite another five power plays handed out in the second period - three to St. FX and two to UNB - the game remained 2-0. Shots in the period were 10-3 for the Reds.

It only took 78 seconds for the Reds to extend their lead in the 3rd period and it was a beauty. Cameron Brace found Mark Simpson with a cross-ice pass on a 3-on-2 rush and, after the puck bounced off Simpson's stick while trying to corral the pass, he spun around and let loose a no-look backhand that found the back of the net. Clapperton picked up his second assist of the night on the goal. Exactly six-and-a-half minutes later Brace (Clapperton, Gazzola) finally got one of his own after being snake bitten the last couple of games. Clapperton had the puck along the half boards when he fed Gazzola who was rushing into the offensive zone. The veteran defenceman waited as Brace crossed from the near side of the goal to the far side before feeding the puck down low where Brace had plenty of time and space to lift the puck past the sprawling X-Men goaltender. The only hiccup of the night for UNB came at 9:23 when St. FX got their only goal of the night thanks to a 2-on-0 shorthanded rush that resulted in Sam Studnicka chipping the puck past Rylan Parenteau. The X-Men's frustration started to percolate late in the period after X-Men forward Anthony Difruscia - who went after Mark Rassell late in last week's game and was also assessed a double minor for butt-ending earlier in this game - was called for tripping at 11:06 after a dangerous play on Patrick Watling that should have been a kneeing penalty. The Reds didn't do anything on the ensuing power play but they did add their fifth of the night shortly after it expired at 13:28 with Rassell (Dove-McFalls, Anderson) digging a loose puck out a crowd in front of the net and firing it home. With the outcome no longer in doubt the X-Men's frustration finally reached it's boiling point in the final minute - which seems to be their MO - and once again it was Difruscia going after Watling, this time leveling the Reds forward from behind in front of the the St. FX goal. Matt Boudens took exception to the play and went after Difruscia with the two dropping their gloves and getting into a fight. They were both assessed 5 minute fighting majors with Difruscia also receiving an instigating and aggressor minor penalty. The remainder of the game was played without incident. Shots in the period were 9-2 for UNB.

- Patrick Watling saw his first action since October 19th, replacing James McEwan in the line-up. Alexandre Goulet and Noah Carroll remained out.

- Shots in the game were 29-12 for UNB.

- There were plenty of power plays in the contest. UNB went 2 for 11 while the X-Men were stymied on their six opportunities. Special teams continue to be a major strength for the Reds recently. They have scored a power play goal in 10 out of their last 11 games and killed 40 out of their last 42 shorthanded situations.

- Stephen Anderson was named the player of the game. Mark Rassell and Sam Studnicka were the other two stars.

- Face-offs were almost dead even with the X-Men winning 36 out of 71. Samuel Dove-McFalls had the best game for UNB, winning 13 out of 21.

- Rylan Parenteau improves to 7-0-0 on the season and 16-0-0 in his career. He leads the AUS with a sparkling 1.51 GAA and is 3rd with a 0.916 save percentage.

- Cameron Brace picked up his 100th career point with his assist on Mark Simpson's goal. He now has 101 points (43 goals, 58 assists) in 112 career regular season games. He now has 10 points in his last five games.

- Christopher Clapperton has 12 points in his last four games to take over the conference scoring lead with six goals and 14 assists for 20 points.

- Attendance was 574.

- Since Randy Gazzola returned from his injury, the Reds have given up only eight goals and 16.57 shots/game in seven games. In the six contests they played in his absence, they surrendered 14 goals and 21.83 shots/game.

- UNB has out-scored their opposition 27-3 in their last four games.

- They have won their last two games in Antigonish by a combined 10-1 score.

- The other two games scheduled for last night - UPEI at Dalhousie and Acadia at Moncton - were both postponed.

- The Reds travel to Halifax on Saturday night for a 7PM tilt against the Dalhousie Tigers.