Saturday, January 5, 2019

Reds Take Close One

For the second straight night the University of New Brunswick Reds found themselves in a tightly contested affair and once again they emerged victorious, holding on for a 4-3 win over the Acadia Axemen tonight at the Aitken Centre. UNB is now 17-0-3 on the season and maintain their 12 point advantage over the 2nd place Saint Mary's Huskies. Meanwhile, the Axemen fall to 5-12-2 and remain tied with Dalhousie for 6th place.

- Much like last night the opening period saw few shots and a goal from the visitors. At 15:02 Ryan Foss pounced on a bad giveaway behind the Reds net and beat Rylan Parenteau up high for an unassisted marker. The Axemen had a great chance to double their lead later when their newest addition Jordy Stallard - fresh off of a 44 goal, 91 point campaign last year in the WHL and half a season playing pro this year - was awarded a penalty shot however Parenteau stood his ground and came up with the clutch save to keep the deficit at one. That proved to be one of the few good scoring chances in the period as UNB held a 7-5 advantage in shots on goal. 

- The Reds took the lead with a pair of quick goals in the opening minutes of the 2nd period. At 2:07 Stephen Anderson (Clapperton, Boland) gained control of a bouncing puck at the Axemen blue line, gained a step on an Axemen defender, and beat Dawson Carty at the side of the net. Acadia then took a penalty 47 seconds later and Cameron Brace (Anderson, Rassell) quickly made them pay, wiring a wrist shot from the face-off circle into the top corner on the short side. The goal came at 3:18 and gave UNB a 2-1 lead that would take into the final 20 minutes. Shots in the 2nd were 13-9 for the Reds. 

- UNB came out strong in the final period but it was Ryan Foss scoring his second of the night on Acadia's first chance of the period at 5:27 to knot the game at two. After the Reds came up empty on what was their fifth straight power play in the game, the Axemen would get their chance. With Tristan Pomerleau leaving the game after a hard hit along the boards earlier in the period, fellow defenceman Marcus McIvor (tripping) and Joe Gatenby (delay of game) were sent to the penalty box within 12 seconds of one another. Down to only three available defenceman, the Reds stood tall and killed off the 1:48 two man disadvantage to keep the game tied. The game would only remain tied for 12 seconds though as Gatenby exited the penalty box and picked up a loose puck after an Axemen blew a tire in the UNB zone. Coming down the ice on an odd-man rush, the defenceman elected to shoot and beat Carty with a wrist shot to give UNB a 3-2 lead. The Reds quick-strike offense was on display again as just 2:39 later Mark Simpson dangled through a couple of defenders before feeding Oliver Cooper across the slot for a one-timer goal to make it 4-2. The Axemen wouldn't quit though. Stephen Harper's goal at 15:07 cut the lead back to a goal at 4-3. However, the Reds clamped down defensively over the final minutes, not allowing any really high-quality scoring opportunities even with Carty pulled in favour of the extra attacker to polish off another victory. 

- Shots in the period were 12-7 for UNB who held a 32-21 advantage in the game.

- Marcus McIvor and James McEwan were back in the line-up, replacing Samuel Dove-McFalls (unsurprisingly, after taking a big hit last night) and Matt Murphy. Matthew Boucher missed his second straight game.

- UNB went 1 for 5 on the power play. Acadia was 0 for 3.

- Anderson, Foss, and Gatenby were named the game's three stars.

- The Reds won 39 out of 64 face-offs. Once again it was Mark Simpson (15 out of 21) and Tyler Boland (10 out of 16) leading the way.

- Rylan Parenteau stopped 18 out of 21 shots. He is now 9-0-1 on the season with a league-leading 1.84 GAA. He is 2nd in wins (9) and 5th in save percentage (0.904).

- Before the game Alex Dubeau and Matt Murphy were honoured as this year's recipients of the Ross "Punch" Walker Memorial Award.

- Attendance was 2338.

- The Reds swept the season series versus the Axemen for the first time since 2009/2010, out-scoring Acadia 24-6 in their five meetings. They went 10/23 on the power play and 21/22 on the penalty kill in those games.

- UNB have won their last 10 home games against Acadia and are now 32-0-3 in their last 35 games against the Axemen at the AUC. Their last regulation loss came in game 3 of the 2006 AUS Final.

- Over the last 13 years the Axemen have beaten Alberta more times in regulation at the AUC (Once, 4-1 at the 2017 University Cup) than they have UNB (0).

- This is the second best start to a regular season in UNB history, tying the 2007/2008 team with 37 points through their first 20 games. That year's team was 18-1-1 compared to 17-0-3 this year. Of course their best start was in 2009/2010 when they won their first 26 games en route to a 27-1-0 regular season record.

- Elsewhere around the conference tonight, the Saint Mary's Huskies blew open a close game with five unanswered goals in the 3rd period to top the UPEI Panthers 9-2 in Charlottetown and Moncton got a 36 save performance from Etienne Montpetit to blank Dalhousie 3-0 on home-ice.

- UNB is on the road next weekend for a pair of games in Nova Scotia. On Friday night they are in Halifax to play the Dalhousie Tigers and then travel on to Antigonish to face the St. FX X-Men the next night. Both games are scheduled for a 7PM puck drop and can be viewed at www.AUStv.ca.