Friday, January 18, 2019

The Goals Keep Coming

After putting ten goals on the board on Wednesday, the University of New Brunswick Reds kept up their torrid offensive pace tonight in Charlottetown, blasting the UPEI Panthers 9-4 in a wide-open, back and forth game. UNB improves to 20-1-3 on the season and have now clinched a 1st round playoff bye. The Panthers fall to 11-9-2 and remain in 5th place, missing out an opportunity to jump up into 3rd.

UPEI actually opened the scoring in this one with Gabe Guertler putting the puck into a tight spot just above Alex Dubeau's left shoulder and into the top corner at 7:13. Tyler Boland (Gazzola, LeBlanc) knotted the game at 13:09 when a shot from the point trickled down to the goal and Boland got just enough on the puck to sneak it through Matt Mancina's legs. With his assist, 5th year defenceman Randy Gazzola reached a milestone as it marked his 100th career point. The Reds would then take their first lead of the night in the final minute of the period. Mark Rassell (Carroll, Goulet) raced down the left side of the offensive zone to track down a loose puck and beat Mancina from a sharp angle. The goal came with 54 seconds remaining in the period and made it a 2-1 game heading into intermission. UNB out-shot UPEI 19-16 in the frame.

It didn't take long for the Reds to extend their lead in the 2nd period. After receiving a spin-o-rama pass from Stephen Anderson, Chris Clapperton backhanded the puck in at the side of the net just 61 seconds into the period. Gazzola picked up his second assist of the night on the goal. After the goal the two teams traded a number of high quality chances back and forth, but neither could find the back of the net until 13:37 when Boland (Bennett, Gazzola) got his second of the night, taking a pass from Bennett just as he entered the Panthers zone and having all day to skate in and wrist a shot into the top corner. This set off a flurry of goals as the two teams would trade four more goals in the next 3:59. Rassell one-timed a James McEwan rebound 35 seconds after the Boland goal to push the lead to 5-1 only to see Brett Andrews counter for the Panthers 69 seconds after that. It only took UNB 24 seconds to respond as Alexandre Goulet (Rassell, Boudens), who has had a number of quality chances the last couple of games with nothing to show for it, finally getting one to go, snapping the puck in as he cut across the slot at 15:45. Finally, Luke Kirwan was able to power a slap shot between Dubeau's legs at 17:36. The goal capped a wild four minutes and cut the deficit to 6-3, which is how the 2nd period would end. Shots in the period were 17-8 for UNB.

The Reds would add a trio of goals in the 3rd period. At 6:46 Goulet took a hit just inside the Panthers blue line to get the puck to Stephen Anderson, who beat Mancina with a wicked wrists hot short-side. Just under five minutes later Rassell (McEwan, LeBlanc) completed his hat-trick, getting the puck all alone down low. He made a quick move to his right before flipping the puck up and over Mancina's left pad to make it 8-3. Then, at 15:11, James McEwan (Gatenby) used his speed to cut through the neutral zone before going wide around a defenceman down the right side and then cut across the front of the net and roofed the puck. The highlight reel goal pushed the lead to 9-3. The final goal of the night came off the stick of Kirwan at 18:05 as he put the puck past a down and out Dubeau, who had a pile of players in his crease. The Panthers almost added another one shortly afterwards, but Dubeau made his second ridiculous glove save of the night to put an exclamation point on the victory. UPEI out-shot UNB 15-5 in the period despite getting out-scored 3-1.

- The Reds went with the same line-up as Wednesday night as Tristan Pomerleau, Samuel Dove-McFalls, and Patrick Watling were the scratches.

- Shots in the game were 41-39 for UNB. The 39 shots against mark a season-high while they tied a season-high by surrendering four goals.

- There weren't many power plays in the game, which is surprising for a game played on the island. UNB went 0 for 1 and UPEI went 0 for 2.

- UNB won 47 out of 77 face-offs. Mark Simpson won 18 out of 23.

- Attendance was 773.

- While he made a number of big saves, Dubeau also had some luck on his side. The Panthers hit the post at least three times, including twice within seconds of one another.

- Matthew Boucher had a game-high six shots on goal with a couple of really good looks, but couldn't buy a goal tonight.

- Gazzola is the 3rd Reds player to hit 100 career regular season points this season, joining Cameron Brace and Chris Clapperton.

- The Reds have now taken exactly 1000 shots on goal this season for an average of 41.9 per game, far and away the most in the league. The next closest team is Saint Mary's with 846 shots on goal (35.25 per game).

- This is the 12th straight season UNB has won at least 20 games. It is the 14th consecutive year they have earned a first round playoff bye.

- Incredibly, Mark Simpson did not register a point in either of the last two games. Oliver Cooper was also held off the scoresheet in both games. Meanwhile, their teammates combined for 19 goals and 32 assists in those games.

- The last time UNB scored 19 goals over a two game span was the opening two games of the 2009/2010 season - and it was against the same two teams. They beat UPEI 10-0 and Moncton 9-3 that year.

- This is the most goals UNB has scored on the road against UPEI since a wild 13-9 win on January 26th, 1980.

- In other conference action tonight, the Acadia Axemen got a much needed win with a 5-0 whitewash of the St. FX X-Men in Wolfville. The Axemen, who broke a six game losing streak, out-shot the X-Men 51-20 on the night, including 41-9 through 40 minutes. In Halifax, the Saint Mary's Huskies blanked the Dalhousie Tigers 4-0.

- UNB is off tomorrow night. They are back to Nova Scotia next weekend to face Dalhousie on Friday night and St. FX on Saturday night. Both games are scheduled for a 7PM start and can be seen at www.AUStv.ca.