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.