Saturday, December 29, 2018

UNB Pulls Away From 'Horns

After a four week layoff, the #1 nationally ranked University of New Brunswick Reds picked up right where they left off as they pasted the visiting Lethbridge Pronghorns 8-3 in the 14th annual Peterbilt Pete Kelly Cup tonight at the AUC. The Pronghorns entered the game with a conference record of 5-9-2 this season, good for 6th place in the Canada West conference. The Reds, of course, are the only team in the country without a regulation loss thus far, going 15-0-3.

It looked like it was going to be a long night for the visitors right from the get-go as UNB dominated puck possession and took 10 out of the first 11 shots of the game. They got on the board 5:09 into the game when Mark Rassell (Dove-McFalls, Anderson) beat goaltender Taz Burman with a wrist shot from the high slot. It took the same trio only six - yes, six - seconds to score again, as Anderson got the puck off the ensuing face-off win by Dove-McFalls and fed Rassell on a two-on-one to make it 2-0. However, the Pronghorns turned the tide over the middle half of the period, generating a number of high quality chances among the seven or eight straight shots they threw at Alex Dubeau. The Reds weathered the storm and were able to extend the lead at 12:42, just 15 seconds into their first power play of the game. Christopher Clapperton, stationed on the half-wall, worked the puck down to Kris Bennett below the goal line before Bennett quickly bumped it out to Mark Simpson, who was stationed at the bottom of the face-off circle for a one-timer into the far corner. The Pronghorns cracked the scoreboard at 18:58 when Torrin White got the last touch of the puck on a scramble at the side of the goal. UNB would take the 3-1 lead into the intermission after out-shooting Lethbridge 17-11 in the period.

Much like the opening period the Reds were all over the Pronghorns to open the middle frame, but on their first chance of the period Sam McKechnie slid the puck in to cut the lead to 3-2 at 3:01. A Lethbridge penalty 11 seconds later would prove to be costly. After Tyler Boland hustled back to break up a potential shorthanded odd-man rush Simpson picked up the loose puck and skated into the offensive zone begorw executing a give-and-go with Clapperton to perfection to make it 4-2 with his second goal of the night at 3:49. Kris Bennett restored the three goal lead at 9:45 while shorthanded when he pounced on a turnover at the UNB blue line and split the defence, going in all alone on Burman and beating him with a backhanded shot between the legs. The Pronghorns quickly got that one back, though, when the puck ping-ponged through the slot and beat a helpless Dubeau at 10:10. The game would remain 5-3 through 40 minutes as they narrowly out-shot Lethbridge 14-13 in the period.

The 3rd period was all UNB as the shots favoured them 14-7 and they accounted for all three goals scored in the period. The goals were the result of a Randy Gazzola (Bennett, Boucher) wrist shot at 0:58, a Tyler Boland (Clapperton, Anderson) short breakaway at 10:10, and a Rassell (Boucher, Simpson) rebound to complete the scoring - and his hat-trick - at 17:52.

- The Reds iced almost a full line-up with defenceman Marcus McIvor the lone scratch.

- Shots in the game were 45-31 for UNB. The 31 shots allowed are a season-high for UNB and many of them were of the high quality variety as Lethbridge was able to find open space in the offensive zone throughout the game.

- Alex Dubeau and Rylan Parenteau split the goaltending duties. Dubeau surrendered three goals on 18 shots in 30:10 of work while Parenteau stopped all 13 shots he faced over the last 29:50.

- UNB went 2 for 4 on the power play. Lethbridge, who have operated at an abysmal 7% this season, went 1 for 6 and looked very dangerous most of the night with the man advantage.

- The Reds won 41 out of 70 face-offs on the night. Simpson was a beast, winning 15 out of 18.

- Rassell was named the player of the game. Simpson and former St. Thomas Tommie Connor Sanvido were the other two stars.

- Eight Reds had multi-point efforts with Bennett, Simpson, Clapperton, Anderson, and Rassell all going off for three points.

- Boland had a game-high six shots on goal.

- Attendance was 2500.

- This was the first ever meeting between UNB and Lethbridge.

- UNB improves to 18-2-0 in their last 20 games against Canada West competition. Their two losses both came at the hands of the Alberta Golden Bears - in the 2008 and 2015 University Cup final.

- The regular season resumes this upcoming weekend at the AUC. UNB hosts Saint Mary's on Friday night and then the Acadia Axemen the next night. Game time is 7PM for both contests.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Reds Play Pivotal Role In Series Win

Five UNB players, along with head coach Gardiner MacDougall, participated in the annual series between U Sports all-stars and Hockey Canada's World Junior prospects this past week in Victoria, BC. It was an impressive showing for the Reds as they helped the U Sports team to a pair of victories following an opening game shoot-out loss.

In the series opener on Wednesday night, Christopher Clapperton scored early in the 2nd period and Alberta's Luke Philp tied the game with nine seconds remaining in regulation before Team Canada finally emerged with a 3-2 victory after a nine round shoot-out. U Sports out-shot Canada by a 38-30 margin.

The following night Team Canada held a 3-2 lead late in the 2nd period until Kris Bennett and Mark Simpson scored 57 seconds apart to give U Sports a 4-3 advantage through 40 minutes. Clapperton picked up assists on both goals. St. FX's Holden Cook scored an insurance goal midway through the 3rd period as U Sports picked up the 5-3 win. While they did not show up on the score-sheet, Marcus McIvor and Matt Murphy were both instrumental in helping kill off six out of seven Team Canada power plays. Shots in the game were 32-20 for U Sports.
 
The final game of the series went Friday afternoon and it was an impressive 5-1 victory for the U Sports squad with Bennett (2 goals), Clapperton (1 goal, 1 assist), and Simpson (2 assists) all registering multi-point games. Team Canada held a 33-28 advantage in shots on goal.

- Clapperton had a series-high five points in the three games while Bennett led everyone with his three goals.

- U Sports improves to 4-0-1 in the last two years against Team Canada.

- The five Reds representatives will try to keep the momentum going later this month when they - along with the rest of their teammates - play host to the Lethbridge Pronghorns on December 29th in the annual Pete Kelly Challenge.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Clapperton Wins Monthly Honour

Forward and AUS leading scorer Christopher Clapperton has been announced as the UNB Reds/Valley Graphics male Athlete of the Month for November.

After getting off to a bit of a slow start - at least by his lofty standards - with eight points in his first nine games this season, the diminutive 4th year winger found the score sheet in all eight of UNB's games in November, totaling eight goals and ten assists to vault to the top of the conference scoring race. He was also a +11 and had three game-winning goals during the month.

For the season Clapperton has amassed a league-leading 27 points and five game-winning goals. However, perhaps most importantly, is that after playing in only 43 out of 60 regular games the last two seasons, Clapperton has suited up for all 18 games thus far.

Clapperton, along with four of his teammates, will head to Victoria next week as members of the U Sports all-star team for a trio of games against Canada's world junior team prospects

Five Reds Named To All-Star Team

Five members of the #1 nationally ranked University of New Brunswick Reds - forwards Christopher Clapperton, Kris Bennett, and Mark Simpson, along with defencemen Marcus McIvor and Matt Murphy - have been named to the 25 player U Sports All-Star team that will face Canada's world junior team prospects next week in Victoria, British Colombia. Head coach Gardiner MacDougall will serve as an assistant coach for the squad.

UNB led the way with their five selections. The Calgary Dinos - whose head coach Mark Holwell will be serving the same role in Victoria - placed four members on the team with Alberta and Saskactehwan each contributing three players. There were only three other AUS players selected - Saint Mary's Huskies forward Hunter Garlent (returning for a second straight year), Huskies defenceman Alex Peters, and St. FX X-Men forward Holden Cook, who made the team for a third straight year.

Current Reds Randy Gazzola and Stephen Anderson represented UNB at last year's event.

After years of playing a pair of games against one another, this will be the first time the series will include a third contest. The Reds contingent is expected to travel across the country on Monday in preparation for their first game on Wednesday, December 12th (10PM AST). They will also play on Thursday, December 13th (10PM AST) and Friday, December 14th (6PM AST).

You can hear interviews with the five Reds players here.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

U Sports Top Ten (#10): Reds Complete First Half Sweep

For the 10th time in as many polls the University of New Brunswick Reds are the top ranked men's hockey team in the country.

UNB was the unanimous choice, picking up all 15 first place media votes as well as 150 ELO points for a perfect total of 300 combined points. The Alberta Golden Bears (259) and Saskatchewan Huskies (246) remain 2nd and 3rd, respectively, after the two split their two game series last weekend. The Ottawa Gee Gees are up a spot to 4th with 207 points while the Queen's Gaels (148) make the biggest move in going from 8th to 5th.

The rest of the top ten is made up of the Ryerson Rams (139), Brock Badgers (97), Saint Mary's Huskies (95), Carleton Ravens (63), and McGill Redmen (41).

The St. FX X-Men (7) and UPEI Panthers (2) were among four teams to receive honourable mention.

Boland Picks Up Pair Of Awards

Reds forward Tyler Boland capped off an outstanding first semester by being named both the UNB Reds/Papa John's Pizza and Subway AUS male athlete of the week. 

Boland played a key role in both of UNB's road victories this past weekend. On Friday night he scored two goals and had an assist in a crucial 7-4 win over the 2nd place Saint Mary's Huskies. The next night he assisted on the eventual game winning goal in the Reds 5-1 win against Acadia. 

After joining UNB as a highly rated recruit prior to last season the 6', 194 pound Boland posted a solid rookie campaign with 7 goals, 20 assists, and a +20 rating while playing all 30 regular season games. He added a point per game during the AUS playoffs (5 points) and University Cup (3 points). However, the native of Saint John's, Newfoundland has elevated his game to another level thus far this year, currently sitting 2nd in the league in scoring with 13 goals and 13 assists in 18 games. He is also a league-best +19.

Boland and the rest of his teammates are back in action on Saturday, December 29th when they face the 2019 University Cup host Lethbridge Pronghorns at 7PM at the AUC.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

UNB Enter Break On High

The University of New Brunswick Reds wrapped up the first portion of their season with a win tonight in Wolfville, defeating the Acadia Axemen 5-1. For the second consecutive season UNB will enter the Christmas break with a 15-0-3, sitting comfortably in the top spot in the AUS.

The game got off to a bit of a slow start with minimal shots on goal and scoring chances in the early going. This changed at 7:46 when the Reds got on the board. Mark Simpson made a nice play to keep the puck in the offensive zone, finding Marcus McIvor with a pass along the blue line. McIvor then put the puck towards the net just as Matthew Boucher was gliding in front of the goal and the rookie forward was able to get a stick on it and get it past Logan Flodell. This was the only goal in a period in which UNB out-shot the Axemen 9-7.

The Reds blew the game open early in the 2nd period, striking for three goals in the first 4:19 of the frame. At 1:21 Christopher Clapperton (Boland, Anderson) took advantage of a defensive zone turnover by the Axemen to make it 2-0 and then, just 47 seconds later, Alexandre Goulet weaved through the slot on a delayed penalty before backhanding the puck in for an unassisted marker to push the cushion to three goals. This proved to be the end of the night for Flodell as he was replaced by Dawson Carty in the Acadia goal. The move quickly proved futile as Kris Bennett completed the onslaught minutes later when he took McIvor's long lob pass from inside the Reds zone at the Axemen blue line and beat Carty on a breakaway. The Axemen were able to get on the board at 6:04 when Loch Morrison collected a loose puck just off a face-off and found Rylan Parenteau's five-hole for his first career goal to make it 4-1. After the four goal flurry the game remained without a goal for the remainder of the period. Shots were 13-7 for UNB in the period.

The Reds would add the only goal of the 3rd period with Goulet (Boudens, Cooper) finishing off a nice passing play with his second of the night at 14:00. He later had a short breakaway with a chance to complete the hat-trick, but was denied. Shots in the final period favoured UNB 11-8 as they rolled to their fourth straight win over the Axemen this season.

- Noah Carroll was in the line-up for the first time since October 27th. He took the place of Matt Murphy on the blue line. Patrick Watling and James McEwan remained sidelined.

- Shots in the game were 33-22 for UNB.

- Acadia was 0 for 6 on the power play. The Reds had a rare scoreless night with the man advantage, going 0 for 2. This is only the 4th time this season they failed to score a power play goal and had been an absurd 9 for 15 on the power play against Acadia through their first three meetings.

- The Reds were called for two Too Many Men On Ice penalties. They also had one last night against Saint Mary's.

- UNB also uncharacteristically struggled at the face-off circle, winning only 23 out of 52 draws.

- Goulet was named the player of the game. Axemen forward Jack Flaman and Matthew Boucher were the other two stars.

- The Axemen were missing four regulars and only played with 16 skaters.

- Rylan Parenteau was solid in net in improving to 8-0-1 on the season. While he wasn't forced to make many really tough saves, the Axemen had a number of close calls around the crease throughout the game that weren't reflected on the shot clock.

- Christopher Clapperton (10 goals, 17 assists) and Tyler Boland (13 goals, 13 assists) enter the break ranked 1-2 in conference scoring. They are among six Reds who are averaging over a point per game thus far. Matthew Boucher (21 points), Stephen Anderson (20), Kris Bennett (20), and Cameron Brace (18 in 16 games) are the others.

- As mentioned, UNB was also 15-0-3 at this time last season. The only other time prior to these last two seasons they went through their pre-Christmas schedule without a regulation loss was 2009/2010 when they won all 15 games before Christmas.

- The Reds are 77-4-10 in conference play since the beginning of the 2016 calendar year. This also corresponds to the addition of Christopher Clapperton to the team.

- The other two games on the schedule tonight both went in UNB's favour. The UPEI Panthers defeated the 2nd place Saint Mary's 4-3 in Halifax and the Moncton Aigles Bleus picked up a 3-2 home win against the 3rd place St. FX X-Men.

- Here is how the standings look (NOTE - Not all teams have played the same number of games)

UNB = 15-0-3 (33 points in 18 games)
SMU = 11-6-1 (23 points  in 18 games)
St. FX = 9-7-2 (20 points in 18 games)
UPEI = 9-6-1 (19 points in 16 games)
UdeM = 8-7-3 (19 points in 18 games)
ACA = 5-10-2 (12 points in 17 games)
DAL = 4-13-0 (8 points in 17 games)

- The Reds are now off for 28 days. They next play on Saturday, December 29th when they host the Lethbridge Pronghorns of Canada West for an exhibition game at the AUC. Game time is 7PM.