Friday, February 8, 2019

Reds Take Care Of Business

The severely understaffed St. FX X-Men played a good opening period but, as expected, couldn't keep up with the deeper, fresher University of New Brunswick Reds, dropping an 8-2 decision on Military Appreciation Night at the AUC in a game that was, understandably, lacking the intensity of a typical match-up between the two rivals. UNB moves to 24-2-3 on the season while the X-Men's 15-11-3 record has them clinging to 3rd place by a point.

It looked like the Reds would take any possibility of drama out of the game early with Kris Bennett (LeBlanc, Clapperton) tipping in a point shot for a power play goal at 5:16 and Stephen Anderson (Rassell, Watling) taking a short pass in the slot and beating Blade Mann-Dixon with a wrist shot 65 seconds later. Playing with only 12 skaters, the X-Men's strategy was very apparent from the get-go as they sat back defensively and hoped to turn either a blocked shot or a turnover into a counter-attack. The latter worked to perfection at 15:48 when Holden Cook took a pass on an odd man rush and picked the top right corner to make it 2-1. UNB quickly snuffed out any potential momentum though, as Cam Brace (Clapperton, LeBlanc) was hit with a pass in stride through the neutral zone, got behind the defense, and sifted a snap shot into the top of the net at 17:50. The Reds would take the 3-1 lead into the intermission after out-shooting their visitors 11-8.

The final forty minutes were all UNB as the X-Men tired. Olivier LeBlanc (Gazzola, Clapperton) got his first goal of the season 1:46 into the 2nd period after some extensive offensive zone pressure to make it 4-1 only to see Cook strike again, this time on a nice back-door play on the power play, at 4:01 to cut the deficit back to two. However, goals by Tyler Boland (Clapperton, Brace) on a short two-on-one that began at the X-Men blue-line at 10:18 and Marcus McIvor (Simpson, Cooper) at 16:30 ensured their would be no miracle on this night. Matthew Boucher, from Bennett and Watling 34 seconds into the 3rd period and Boland (Brace, Gatenby), with his second of the night after some nice passing around the crease, at 5:12 rounded out the scoring. Shots favoured UNB 38-5 over the last two periods - 20-1 in the 2nd and 18-4 in the 3rd.

- Tristan Pomerleau was back in the line-up for the first time since January 5th, replacing Noah Carroll on the back-end. Alexandre Goulet and Samuel Dove-McFalls both remained out.

- Shots in the game were 49-13.

- St. FX went 1 for 3 on the power play. UNB was 1 for 5.

- The Reds won 36 out of 59 face-offs with Mark Simpson leading the way with 14 wins in 20 chances.

- The X-Men blocked 13 shots to UNB's 3.

- Alex Dubeau picked up his 14th win of the season.

- Olivier LeBlanc was named the recipient of the Fallen Soldier Award as the player of the game.

- Of the 12 players dressed for the X-Men, one had yet to play this season (Marcus Cuomo) and one was their team therapist (Giovanni Akeson), who probably never imagined he would be playing in an AUS game. St. FX only had two natural defencemen dressed - Adam Holwell and Daniel Robertson.

- Chase Marchand replaced Mann-Dixon twice in the 3rd period, both times briefly. He stopped all six shots her faced in 2:39 of action.

- UNB wore their new 'Dark Camo' jerseys for Military Appreciation Night.

- Attendance was 3236.

- With four assists tonight Christopher Clapperton now leads UPEI's Kameron Kielly and Saint Mary’s Hunter Garlent by five points in the scoring race with one game remaining for all three.

- LeBlanc had 24 assists this season before getting off the schneid with his 2nd period tally.

- With the win UNB takes the season series versus the X-Men three games to two. It is the 10th straight year they have won the season series against St. FX, compiling a 34-6-3 regular season record in that span.

- In other AUS action tonight the UPEI Panthers defeated Dalhousie 5-2 in Charlottetown and Moncton got a late goal to slip past Acadia 2-1 in Wolfville.

- Tonight's results mean there is still lots to be decided tomorrow in terms of the standings. UNB and Saint Mary's have clinched the 1st and 2nd spots and have both earned a first round playoff bye. At the other end of the spectrum Acadia is locked in 6th place and Dalhousie will finish in 7th. However, spots 3-5 are still very much up for grabs. Heading into the final night of the regular season St. FX sits at 33 points, Moncton has 32, and UPEI has 31. The X-Men have the tie-breaker over both teams while the Panthers have the tie-breaker over the Aigles Bleus.

- Tomorrow night Moncton travels to Halifax to face Saint Mary's and UPEI hosts St. FX.

- Meanwhile, the Reds play their final regular season game of the season against the Dalhousie Tigers. It is 'Northside Elementary School Night' and 'Home Depot Night' at the AUC. Game time is 7PM.