Friday, January 4, 2019

Reds Tighten Grip On Top Spot

There hasn't been much separating the Saint Mary's Huskies and University of New Brunswick Reds in their head to head meetings thus far this season. Tonight was no different. In their fifth and final regular season match-up the league-leading Reds came back from an early deficit to top the 2nd place Huskies 3-1 at the AUC. UNB is now 16-0-3 on the season and have opened up a commanding 12 point lead on the 11-7-1 Huskies with 11 games remaining in the regular season.

- The Huskies opened the scoring with the lone goal of the 1st period 15:11 into the contest when Calder Brooks was in front of the net and stretched out to backhand the puck just past the left pad of Alex Dubeau. Shots were 11-7 for UNB in the opening 20 minutes.

- The Reds tied the game at 9:16 of the 2nd period as Randy Gazzola (Rassell, Dove-McFalls) let a wrist shot go from the high slot that grazed goaltender Eric Brassard up high before fluttering into the net. After the goal the Huskies really took the play to the Reds and ended up out-shooting the home side 16-12 in the period.

- Saint Mary's kept up their strong play in the early parts of the final period, pushing their shots advantage to 29-24 on the night before the Reds started to turn the tide. UNB would take 12 out of the next 13 shots on goal and were rewarded with a pair of goals. The eventual game-winning goal came at 6:28 on a bit of a strange play after some nice fore-checking helped keep the puck in the offensive zone. Matt Murphy's attempted shot hit a defender in front of the net in the helmet and amid the confusion of everyone trying to locate the puck Alexandre Goulet was the first to spot it. His shot was denied by Brassard, but Kris Bennett was right on the door step there to swipe in the rebound.

- The Huskies had a great opportunity to square the game when UNB took a pair of penalties 52 seconds apart with less than eight minutes remaining. However, the penalty killers not only killed both off successfully, they didn't allow a shot.

- For the most part the evening was pretty tame in terms of physical play, but that all changed with 3:12 remaining when Samuel Dove-McFalls was forced to leave the game after being laid out with a hard hit in the offensive zone. This set off a melee near the benches that resulted in Matt Boudens and Alexander Peters both picking up 10-minute misconducts. After laying on the ice for several minutes Dove-McFalls was helped off the ice and headed to the locker room.

- The Reds had hit the post twice earlier in the game - on a Boudens shorthanded chance and then on a Noah Carroll point shot - with the puck staying out both times. The bounce finally went their way at 18:51 and it essentially put the game away. With the Huskies net empty Matt Murphy (Anderson, Rassell) floated a shot through traffic from the blue line that clanked off of the post/cross-bar and into the top right corner for the important insurance marker.

- Shots in the 3rd period were 13-7 for UNB. They held a 36-30 advantage in the game.

- Marcus McIvor - who got banged up during the U Sports/Team Canada series, Matthew Boucher, and James McEwan were the three scratches for the game.

- Saint Mary's was 0 for 5 on the power play. UNB was 0 for 2.

- Alex Dubeau was fantastic all night in net for the Reds, turning aside 29 out of 30 shots. He also picked up his second roughing penalty in as many games. He is now 2nd in the league with eight wins and a 1.85 GAA and leads the conference with a 0.926 save percentage.

- For his efforts Dubeau was named the player of the game. Brassard and Gazzola were the second and third star, respectively.

- UNB won 42 out 68 face-offs with Mark Simpson (16/26) and Tyler Boland (10/16) both having good nights in the dot.

- Attendance was 2172.

- Prior to the game 4th year forward Stephen Anderson was honoured as this year’s recipient of the Don MacAdam Leadership Award.

- With the win UNB has officially clinched a playoff berth.

- Due to the ridiculous composition of the AUS schedule this year, these two teams have already played their five regular season games against each other this year and will not see each other again unless they meet in the playoffs. With the win UNB clinches the season series, going 3-0-2 against the Huskies. SMU was 2-2-1 in the five meetings.

- It was a tight, low scoring night around the conference. UPEI moved within a single point of Saint Mary’s - with a game in hand - by virtue of a 2-1 home win over Acadia. The Panthers and Huskies meet tomorrow night in Charlottetown with 2nd place on the line. The other game tonight saw Dalhousie hold on for a 1-0 victory against St. FX in Halifax. The Tigers are now tied with the Axemen for the 6th and final playoff spot with 12 points, although Acadia has a game in hand.

- Speaking of Acadia, they are in town tomorrow night for a match-up with the Reds. Game time is 7PM.