Thursday, February 21, 2019

Reds Open Playoffs With Win

The AUS regular season champion University of New Brunswick Reds got their playoff push started on the right foot, emerging with a 3-1 victory over a game UPEI Panthers squad tonight at the Aitken Centre. UNB take a 1-0 lead in the best 3-of-5 semi-final with game 2 slated for tomorrow night.

The two teams skated through a scoreless, penalty-free 1st period that saw UNB out-shoot UPEI 15-8, forcing Panthers goaltender Matthew Mancina to make some big saves.

The Reds finally broke through 2:34 into the 2nd period when a loose puck in front of the Panthers net came to Mark Rassell (Anderson, Murphy), who was waiting at the side of the cage to knock it in. The lead didn't last long, however, as Kameron Kielly rifled a shot into the top left corner on UPEI's only power play of the game at 4:49. UNB was able to re-gain the lead before the end of the period, thanks to a great hustle play by Matthew Boucher. With the puck loose behind the Panthers net, Boucher outraced a defender to retrieve it and got it out front to Kris Bennett, who made a deke in close before lifting the puck over Mancina. The goal gave UNB a 2-1 lead that they would take into the final twenty minutes. The Reds dominated the period, peppering Mancina with a season-high 25 shots on goal to the Panthers five in the period.

The 3rd period was UPEI's best of the night, coming close to tying the game a couple different times in the opening minutes on goal-mouth scrambles. Alex Dubeau held the fort though and UNB would add some much-needed insurance at the 8:37 mark on another goal from the "dirty" areas. Olivier LeBlanc let loose an off-balance wrist shot from the blue-line in an attempt to just get the puck on net and that prompted chaos in front of Mancina. Bennett had the first opportunity before Boucher was able to locate the puck through the crowd, snapping it five hole to push the lead to 3-1. The Reds did a good job shutting things down from there to close out the win. The Panthers pulled Mancina with just under two minute remaining, but a scrum with 35 seconds left resulted in a UPEI penalty, which all but sealed it. Shots in the period were 15-13 for UNB.

- Alexandre Goulet and Samuel Dove-McFalls were both back in the line-up after lengthy absences. Patrick Watling, James McEwan, and Noah Carroll were scratched.

- Shots in the game were 55-25 for UNB.

- The refs had the whistles put away for the most part. The Panthers went 1 for 1 on the power play with UNB coming up empty on two chances.

- UNB won 39 out of 75 face-offs with Mark Simpson (13 out of 24) and Dove-McFalls (10 out of 16) leading the charge.

- Boucher and Mancina were named the player of the game for their respective teams.

- Attendance was 2194 as the city was still digging out from its latest snowstorm.

- Although the Reds have won all four meetings with UPEI at the AUC this season, this was the 3rd time the game was within at least one goal heading into the 3rd period.

- UNB has now won six straight playoff games dating back to last season.

- In Halifax, Saint Mary's got a 23 save shut-out from Eric Brassard in a 3-0 win over St. FX to go up 1-0 in the other semi-final. Game 2 of that series will be played on Saturday night.

- UNB and UPEI are back at it tomorrow night for game 2. Game time is 7PM.