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.