Wednesday, March 27, 2019

News And Notes: Parenteau, Boudens, MacDougall, Hunter

- Lucas Punkari of the Prince Albert Daily Herald talks with Reds netminder Rylan Parenteau about UNB's recent University Cup victory.

- In his final Tuesday Morning Skate podcast of the season, Victor Findlay interviews Matt Boudens.

- Jason Simmonds of the Journal Pioneer asks head coach Gardiner MacDougall - who was in Charlottetown less than a week after winning his 7th national championship to watch a QMJHL playoff game - about his winning formula.

- The Amherst News' Dave Mathieson talks with the team's video coach Jordan Hunter about his role with the team. Interestingly, Hunter notes that the Reds were the first U Sports team in the country to adopt in game video review on the bench.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

ECHL's Walleye Ink Gazzola

EDIT: Toledo has released a short write-up on Gazzola's addition for the remainder of the season.

Graduating defenceman Randy Gazzola has agreed to a deal with the Toledo Walleye, the ECHL affiliate of the Detroit Red Wings.

Gazzola just capped his fifth and final season with UNB by winning a third AUS and University Cup title. He was also named the winner of the prestigious Dr. Randy Gregg Award, which is given annually to the U Sports student-athlete who exhibits outstanding community service.

The Thorold, Ontario native finishes his university career with 105 points (19 goals, 86 assists) in 134 regular season games, 19 points (2 goals, 17 assists) in 26 playoff games, and 12 points (1 goal, 11 assists) in 15 University Cup games. His 28 career postseason assists are the second most in UNB history while his 15 career University Cup games are tied for the most.

Gazzola will be joining a quality team in Toledo as the Walleye are currently 6th in the ECHL with a 36-20-9 record on the season.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

News Articles: Gazzola, Boland, Rassell

A trio of articles profiling Reds players have been published in the wake of the teams University Cup championship. These include the following:

- "Gazzola receives highest university sports honour" by Bob Liddycoat of the Thorold News.

- "Boland uncovers hockey's 'best-kept secret'" by Robin Short of The Telegram

- "Rassell excited to win championship" by Ryan McCracken of the Medicine Hat News

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Clapperton Inks AHL Deal

Reds forward and AUS MVP Christopher Clapperton has agreed to terms on a one year, one-way, contract with the Belleville Senators, the American Hockey League affiliate of the Ottawa Senators, the team announced today. 

In addition, the Senators have signed the 5'9", 174 pound winger to an amateur tryout agreement for the remainder of this season. 

A former 5th round draft pick of the Florida Panthers, Clapperton enjoyed the best season of his UNB career this season, leading the league in scoring with 14 goals and 33 assists to claim MVP honours. 

Over his three and a half years at UNB, the native of Cap d'Espoir, Quebec posted 118 points (45 goals, 73 assists) in 86 regular season games, tied for the 18th most in school history. He added another 16 points in 20 AUS playoff games and 12 points in 12 University Cup games (tied for 4th most in UNB history). Overall, his 146 career points are tied for 14th all-time in school history. 

Since Clapperton's arrival on campus during the Christmas break in 2014-2015, UNB has enjoyed a 129-17-10 overall record, winning two AUS championships and three University Cup in the process. 

Clapperton will be joining a Senators team that also features former teammate Jordan Murray (24 points in 46 games this season) and ex-Acadia Axemen forward Boston Leier (6 points in 33 games).

Dubeau Signs With Komets

University Cup MVP Alex Dubeau has signed a professional contract with the Fort Wayne Komets, the ECHL affiliate of the Vegas Golden Knights, for the rest of the season.

Dubeau is coming off of arguably the best stretch of hockey of his university career as he went a perfect 8-0 in the AUS playoffs and University Cup while surrendering a paltry eight goals in that span.

The former Moncton Wildcat concludes his UNB career with two AUS titles and three University Cup championships. He went 46-5-10 in regular season play to go along with a 2.22 goals against average and 0.902 save percentage. He was 15-1 in postseason play for a combined record of 61-6-10 during his four years in Fredericton.

He will join former St. Thomas Tommies and UPEI Panthers forward J.C. Campagna with the Komets. Campagna is currently second in the league with 33 goals for a Komets squad that is 31-21-9 on the season.

The Reds will now be in the market for a goaltender this summer to pair with Rylan Parenteau.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Dubeau Sweeps Weekly Awards

What does a 3-0 record, 1.33 goals against average, and 0.948 save percentage during the University Cup get you? First, a 3rd championship in four years. Second, a tournament MVP. Lastly, a whole lot of athlete of the week awards.

Reds goaltender Alex Dubeau's stellar weekend, in which he stopped 73 out of 77 shots to lead UNB to another University Cup title, has earned him the UNB Reds/Papa John's Pizza male athlete of the week, the Subway AUS male athlete of the week, and U Sports male athlete of the week.

The native of Mascouche, Quebec was the difference maker in Friday afternoon's 2-1 win over the Carleton Raves, making a number of larcenous stops among the 22 saves he made. He was named the player of the game for his efforts. On Saturday night the Reds offense did most of the heavy lifting, but Dubeau did his part as well, stopping 19 out of the 20 shots St. FX sent his way in a 9-1 rout of the X-Men. He capped his incredible tournament on Sunday night in the gold medal game against the powerful Alberta Golden Bears, turning aside 32 out of 34 shots in a 4-2 victory.

Dubeau finished the postseason with a perfect 8-0 record and is 15-1 in his career in AUS playoff and University Cup games.

Monday, March 18, 2019

REDS ARE CHAMPIONS ONCE AGAIN!

(Photo Credit - UNB Athletics Twitter)

There will be another National Championship banner to hang from the rafters of the Aitken Centre in September. The University of New Brunswick Reds capped a memorable season by defeating the defending champion Alberta Golden Bears 4-2 in a heavyweight match-up tonight in Lethbridge to capture their 8th University Cup in school history - and their 3rd in four years.

The Reds came out strong and dictated play for the majority of the game's opening minutes, but the Golden Bears got a power play - which would be the theme of the opening period - at 3:53 and they only took 40 seconds to strike with Brandon Magee finding Steven Owre all alone at the backdoor for a shot into a gaping cage that Alex Dubeau had no chance on. It was Alberta's first shot of the game. The Reds quickly responded, however, when Mark Rassell intercepted a break out pass just inside the Bears blue-line and fed Samuel Dove-McFalls down low. The rookie forward made a quick deke and slid the puck between Zach Sawchenko's pads to knot the game at one. The Bears suffered a huge blow mid-way through the period when U Sports player of the year Luke Philp crashed hard into the boards and left the game without putting any pressure on his left leg. He would not return and his absence was immediately felt as the Reds were assessed eight minutes of penalties - including a controversial double minor for high-sticking - in just under five minutes late in the period, giving the lethal Golden Bears power play a golden opportunity to take the lead. The Reds penalty kill was put to the test and they rose to the occasion just like they have so many times this season. Although Alberta generated a number of shots on goal, they could not solve Dubeau and the game remained 1-1 through twenty minutes. UNB out-shot Alberta 16-12 in an exciting opening period.

Each team came up empty on abbreviated power plays early in the second period and the game would remain deadlocked until late in the frame. At 14:27 Matthew Boucher and Oliver Cooper did some good, hard work behind the Golden Bears net, which resulted in Boucher winning the puck and getting it back to Randy Gazzola at the blue-line. Gazzola floated a wrist shot towards the net that Cooper was able to get a stick on to deflect it past Sawchenko for the tie-breaking goal. The Reds then got a rare power play just under three minutes later and it only took them 12 seconds to extend their lead with Kris Bennett (Simpson, Boland) getting the puck at the goal line, spinning to his forehand, and putting it upstairs. Bennett's 5th goal of the tournament gave UNB a 3-1 lead and that is how it would remain after 40 minutes. Shots in the period were 13-12 for the Reds.

As expected, Alberta threw everything they had at UNB in the 3rd period with their season on the line. They made thing interesting at 6:47 when Grayson Pawlenchuk stole the puck from a fallen defender in the Reds corner and got it out front to Brandon Magee, who shot back against the grain as Dubeau was moving from his left to right. At 10:57 the Reds got a huge insurance goal to give them some breathing room. Mark Rassell broke down the left side and took a sharp angled shot that found the top corner to make it 4-2. From there it was all about protecting the lead and milking the clock. The Reds seemed perfectly content to slow the game down and take as many icings as necessary over the last five minutes to drain the clock, relying especially on Mark Simpson to win the ensuing offensive zone face-offs. The Bears pulled Sawchenko with over two minutes remaining, but couldn't muster much more than a couple of scrambles in front of Dubeau before the clock hit 0:00, giving the Reds an 8th University Cup championship. Alberta held a 10-2 shot advantage in the period.

Here are the final few seconds of the game courtesy the U Sports Hockey Twitter:
- The Reds went with their usual line-up, meaning Noah Carroll, James McEwan, and Patrick Watling were scratched.

- Alberta ended up out-shooting UNB 34-31 in the game. The Reds had more shots (10) in the opening 12 minutes of the game than they did in the entire 2015 final against Alberta (9).

- UNB was 1 for 3 on the power play. Alberta was 1 for 7.

- Alex Dubeau was sensational once again in goal, including making a huge sliding glove save at the left side of his net to keep the score 3-1 early in the 3rd period.

- Rassell and Magee were the players of the game.

- Attendance was 1593.

- After playing the best hockey of his UNB career this weekend, Alex Dubeau was named the recipient of the Major W.J. 'Danny' McLeod Award as the tournament MVP.

- Joining Dubeau on the tournament all-star team were defenceman Marcus McIvor and forwards Kris Bennett and Chris Clapperton. Alberta's Jason Fram and Luke Philp were the other two players named to the team.

- This is the first time in four tries the Reds have beaten Alberta in a gold medal game.

- This is the second time they have defeated the top seeded team in the final. They also accomplished this in 2007 against Moncton.

- Seniors Randy Gazzola, Cameron Brace, and Matt Boudens cap their excellent five year UNB careers with a 3rd national title. They also have a silver medal and bronze medal to their credit.

- Gazzola and Boudens played in the maximum 15 University Cup games over their university careers.

- UNB's 15 goals scored this weekend are the most they have ever potted in a University Cup-winning tournament. They netted 17 last year, giving them 32 in their last six tournament games.

- They out-scored the opposition by 11 goals (15-4), which is their best ever at the tournament. 

- UNB has now won a University Cup in five different provinces - New Brunswick (3), Saskatchewan (2), Ontario, Nova Scotia, and now Alberta.

- This is Gardiner MacDougall's 100th career postseason victory, which includes 69 AUS playoff wins plus another 31 University Cup wins.

- The Reds went 8-0 in postseason play this year. It is the first time they have ever gone undefeated through the AUS playoffs and University Cup.

- Of course, this now begs the question - Is this the best UNB team of all-time? A 4-2-0 exhibition record, a first place 25-2-3 regular season record, a 5-0 playoff record and an AUS title, and a 3-0 University Cup record with a gold medal for an overall record of 37 -4-3 this season. It is certainly in the conversation.

- Next up for the Reds is the offseason, but keep checking in for the latest news and updates throughout the summer.

- Hockey season is only six months away!

Sunday, March 17, 2019

X-Men Rebound, Take Bronze

The #6 seeded St. FX X-Men shook off a disastrous outing last night to capture the bronze medal at the 2019 University Cup, handing the #5 Saskatchewan Huskies a 5-1 loss this afternoon. Given all the drama and adversity they have faced this season, this is an impressive outcome for the X-Men. For the Huskies, this is their 3rd bronze medal game loss in the last four years. They lost the gold medal game in the other year.

The Huskies were the victim of a typical St. FX game that UNB - and AUS - fans have grown accustomed to over the years. The X-Men scored twice on their three power play chances and raced out to a 5-0 lead while the Huskies came up empty on seven opportunities with the man advantage and didn't find the back of the net until their 49th - and final - shot of the game.

- The X-Men got first period power play goals from defencemen Adam Holwell and Cole MacDonald. They doubled the lead in the second period on markers from Holwell and Matt Needham. Matthew Graham added their final goal early in the third period. 

- Parker Thomas' goal with 31 seconds remaining prevented Saskatchewan from getting shut-out for the 4th time in their last five games. 

- Shots in the game were 49-16 for Saskatchewan, but Chase Marchand rebounded in a big way to lead the X-Men to victory. The Huskies went with their back-up, Travis Child, who played sparingly this season. 

- Attendance was 923.

- St. FX lost 7-3 to Acadia in 2017 in their lone previous bronze medal game appearance. 

- The Huskies have lost in the bronze medal game in 2016 (5-2 to Saint Mary's), 2018 (5-4 in overtime to UNB), and now 2019.

- There is just one game left in the 2018-2019 U Sports men's hockey season and it is tonight's gold medal game between the #1 Alberta Golden Bears and the #2 UNB Reds. Game time is 9PM AST and it will be broadcast live across the country on Sportsnet 360. 

UNB vs. Alberta: Preview, Prediction, Poll

The University Cup will be on the line tonight when the sport's two powerhouse programs - the University of New Brunswick Reds and the Alberta Golden Bears - clash in the gold medal game at the ENMAX Centre in Lethbridge. The game is scheduled for a 9PM AST start and will be broadcast live nationally on Sportsnet 360.

For the Golden Bears (30-4-1), they will be looking to defend their title they won at the Aitken Centre last season. For UNB (32-2-3), they are going for a 3rd championship in four years.

It was a another typically great year for the Golden Bears this season. Although they finished a point behind the Saskatchewan Huskies in the Canada West standings with a 24-3-1 record, the Bears would ultimately get the last laugh. After earning a first round playoff bye, the Bears swept a good Calgary Dinos squad 3-1 and 6-3 to move on to the final against the Huskies in Saskatoon. Alberta dropped the first game 4-2, but then pitched back to back shutouts - 3-0 and 1-0 - to capture their 28th Canada West title. This allowed the Bears to enter the University Cup as the top seed and earned them a date against the severely over-matched Lethbridge Pronghorns in the quarter-finals. Alberta, as predicted, had little trouble in a 7-1 rout of Lethbridge to set up another game against their rivals from Saskatchewan. In the semi-finals Alberta scored three third period goals to break a scoreless tie and Zach Sawchenko did the rest, blanking the Huskies for a third consecutive must-win game to send the Bears to the finals against UNB.

As one could imagine, Alberta has sparkling numbers across the board this season. They ranked only behind UNB in the country in goals scored per game (4.78 to 5.00 for UNB) and had just a tick better goals against average as the Reds (1.964 vs 1.966), which was only behind Saskatchewan. The Bears also feature a lethal power play, which clicks 29.2% of the time, and a stifling penalty kill (89.8%).

Individually, the Bears are the only team in the country that can match up with UNB's depth. They are led up front by U Sports player of the year Luke Philp (21 goals, 24 assists in 24 games), but also receive significant contributions from Canada West second team all-star Cole Sanford (39 points), Brandon Magee (28 points in 22 games), Trevor Cox (28 points), captain and Canada West second team all-star Riley Kieser (24 points), Canada West rookie of the year and all-rookie team member Grayson Pawlenchuk (22 points), and Steven Owre (22 points).

On defence, Alberta might not have the same offensive ability the Reds have from 1 through 6, but they feature Jason Fram (30 points), who has been named the U Sports defenceman of the year for the past two seasons. Clayton Kirichenko (20 points) and veteran Graeme Craig (16 points) are their only other rearguards that topped double digits in points this season. By comparison, UNB had four defenceman register at least 18 points.

Between the pipes, Canada West second team all-star Zach Sawchenko has taken the reigns as their go-to guy this season and has proven to be one of the best in the country. Following up on a strong University Cup semi-final and final performance last season, Sawchenko put together a regular season that saw him post a 16-2-1 record with a 0.926 save percentage and an absurd 1.46 goals against average. He was equally as good in the playoffs with a 4-1 record, 0.927 save percentage, and 1.61 goals against average - including back to back shutouts in do-or-die games in the final. Incredibly, he has been even better in the University Cup - 2 wins and one goal allowed on 46 shots.

On paper this is probably about as even as a championship game match-up can get. These two are easily the top two teams in the country this year and it would be shocking if it wasn't a tight game. Unlike in 2015 when a veteran Golden Bears team completely stifled a young Reds squad that had many players playing in their first University Cup, this game appears to feature the two teams at the height of their powers.

However, the Bears do have a few slight advantages:

- The biggest being that they opened the tournament on Thursday and had Friday off while UNB will be playing their 3rd game in three days, something they have yet to do this season.

- Secondly, as the top seed Alberta will be the home team and get the last line change.

- Also, although the Reds have a lot of players with University Cup experience, the Bears will have more players with championship game experience. Alberta will most likely only have two guys in the line-up that have not played in a University Cup final - rookies Grayson Pawlenchuk and Curtis Miske. On the other hand, the Reds could have up to ten such players - Alex Dubeau, Tyler Boland, Kris Bennett, Alexandre Goulet, Mark Rassell, Matthew Boucher, Samuel Dove-McFalls, Olivier LeBlanc, Tristan Pomerleau, and Joe Gatenby. It might not matter, but it could prove to make a difference.

Ultimately, as with most games that are expected to be close, it will probably come down to special teams, goaltending, and perhaps a fortunate (or unfortunate) bounce. The Bears have been on a roll since the early part of the regular season, going 26-1-1 in their last 28 games, but the Reds were on a similar streak in 2008 before Alberta got them in the final. The Bears are due for a loss and UNB is due to beat them in a National Championship game. The Reds take this one in a nail-biter.

Your turn: Who do you got?

Who wins gold?

UNB
Alberta

UNB In The University Cup Final

The #2 seeded University of New Brunswick Reds will be looking to win their 8th University Cup in school history this evening when they face the defending champion and top seeded Alberta Golden Bears at the ENMAX Centre in Lethbridge. Game time is scheduled for 9PM and will be broadcast live nationally on Sportsnet 360.

Overall, UNB will be making their 13th appearance in the National Championship game, including their 9th in the last 13 years. It will be the 10th appearance since Gardiner MacDougall took the helm in 2000/2001.

Here is a breakdown of their previous 12 appearances:

1997: Lost to Guelph 4-3
1998: Defeated Acadia 6-3
2000: Lost to Alberta 5-2 in OT2
2004: Lost to St. FX 3-2 in OT
2007: Defeated Moncton 3-2 in OT
2008: Lost to Alberta 3-2
2009: Defeated Western Ontario 4-2
2011: Defeated McGill 4-0
2013: Defeated Saint Mary's 2-0
2015: Lost to Alberta 6-3
2016: Defeated St. FX 3-1
2017: Defeated Saskatchewan 5-3

A few notes of interest:

- UNB's 13 title games will tie Toronto for the second most all-time. Alberta will be appearing in their 22nd.

- UNB has seven University Cup championships, only behind Alberta (16) and Toronto (10).

- Both teams have 5 losses, which is one behind Saskatchewan for the most all-time.

- The Reds and Golden Bears have accounted for the last six University Cup titles with UNB winning in 2013, 2016, and 2017 and Alberta taking the crown in 2014, 2015, and 2018.

- 14 out of the last 15 gold medal games has involved either UNB or Alberta. The only one that didn't during that span? McGill's overtime win over Western at the AUC in 2012.

- The last six title games have featured only four different teams - UNB, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and St. FX. The last team besides those four to make it to the final was Saint Mary's in 2013.

- This is UNB's 4th University Cup appearance out west and they have made the final each time. The previous three were all held in Saskatoon and the Reds came away with a gold (1998), silver (1999), and gold (2013).

- Matt Boudens and Randy Gazzola will join Cam Braes, Josh Hepditch, and Lachlan MacIntosh as the only Reds players all-time to play in four gold medal games. Senior Cameron Brace was injured for the 2017 tournament so this will only be his 3rd championship game appearance.

- This is the second time UNB has played four title games in a five year span. They also accomplished the feat from 2007-2011.

- This is the 4th time UNB and Alberta have played in the championship game. The Golden Bears have won all three previous encounters - 5-4 in overtime in Saskatoon in 2000, 3-2 in Moncton 2008, and 6-3 in Halifax in 2015. The Reds also dropped a bronze medal game to Alberta in Fredericton in 2003.

- Interestingly, UNB has beaten Alberta in each of their four "non-medal" University Cup games - 4-3 in overtime in Toronto in 1997, 5-2 in Saskatoon in 1998, 6-5 in an epic overtime game in Fredericton in 2004, and 6-3 in Thunder Bay in 2009.

- This proves to be a fitting match-up as UNB was the #1 ranked team for the first 13 polls of the season before conceding the top spot to the Golden Bears for the last six polls.

- Since the University Cup expanded to the six - and then eight - team format, this will only be the 4th instance of the top two teams playing each other. The other three occurred in 2008 (#1 UNB vs. #2 Alberta), 2011 (#1 UNB vs. #2 McGill), and 2015 (#1 Alberta vs. #2 UNB).

Reds Trounce X-Men, Advance To Final

Kris Bennett ensured there would be no overtime heroics from the X-Men this season. The second year forward lit the lamp four times as the #2 seeded University of New Brunswick Reds overwhelmed the #6 seeded St. FX X-Men in a dominant 9-1 victory tonight in the University Cup semi-finals. UNB are back in the gold medal game after a one year hiatus and will now play the Alberta Golden Bears for the National Championship tomorrow evening. St. FX will look to regroup in time for a bronze medal match versus the Saskatchewan Huskies tomorrow afternoon.

It was a dream start for the Reds as they scored three goals in the opening seven minutes to put the X-Men immediately on their heals. Just like in game 2 of the AUS Final, it was Cameron Brace getting the scoring started early and setting the tone. Kris Bennett provided some nice work in the X-Men corner, protecting the puck and eventually spinning away from a defender just as Cameron Brace got loose in front of the net. Bennett feathered a pass out to Brace, who beat Chase Marchand with a shot just inside the far post at 1:36. Tristan Pomerleau also picked up an assist on the opening goal. Bennett then took a penalty, giving the X-Men power play a chance to get the equalizer. However, it was UNB taking advantage. Alexandre Goulet won a race to a loose puck just inside the St. FX blue-line, fended off a defenceman, and snapped the puck low glove side past Marchand to make it 2-0 with an unassisted marker at 6:07. It only took 51 seconds for the Reds to strike again thanks to a great individual effort from Bennett, who was just out of the penalty box. The second year forward got the puck in the X-Men zone and showed great puck protection as he maintained possession through a number of attempted checks before toe-dragging around a defenseman in the low slot and scoring. The unassisted goal made it 3-0 for UNB. They would not be done though. At 12:59 Samuel Dove-McFalls (Boucher, McIvor) got on the score-sheet with a goal off a nice rush only moments after a Reds power play expired. Dove-McFalls took a pass from Marcus McIvor deep in his own zone, chipped the puck to himself around an X-Men player at the Reds blue-line, skated into the offensive zone and put a wrist shot from the high slot through a screen to give UNB a commanding 4-0 lead, which they would take into the intermission. Shots in the period were 24-8 for the Reds, which were very indicative of the play.

The X-Men looked much better in the early parts of the second period and they were able to get on the board thanks to a fortunate bounce at 5:47. Adam Laishram took a shot from far out that hit a UNB stick and took a wicked ricochet downwards off the ice and into the top corner, past Alex Dubeau. St. FX had a chance to really make it interesting a few minutes later as UNB took a pair of penalties 31 seconds apart, but they only managed one shot on goal during the lengthy two man advantage despite having plenty of zone time. Shortly after successfully killing off the penalties UNB made sure there would be no miraculous comeback on this night as they struck for two goals in 67 seconds to put the game out of reach. At 10:37 Bennett (LeBlanc, Gatenby) notched his second of the night after coming hard down the right side and lifting a backhanded shot into the top right corner. Then, at 11:44, Chris Clapperton (Boland, Gazzola) took a pass off the side boards and got in behind a defenceman before slapping the puck between Marchand's legs. UNB would hold a 6-1 lead after two periods. They out-shot the X-Men 14-8 in the period.   

The Reds would add another three goals to their total in the 3rd period to turn this one into a laugher. At 4:14 Marchand stopped two shots in quick succession, but Bennett (Dove-McFalls, LeBlanc) was able to pounce on a rebound and get the third one past him for his hat-trick goal. Joe Gatenby (Boucher, Goulet) would make it 8-1 on a shot from the blue-line at 12:39 and then Bennett would add his fourth of the game at 14:12, keeping the puck on a two-on-one and putting a well-placed shot off the post and in. That would finally wrap up the scoring - much to St. FX's delight I suspect - as UNB out-shot the X-Men 16-4 over the final twenty minutes.

- UNB went with the same line-up as yesterday. Noah Carroll, James McEwan, and Patrick Watling were all scratched.

- Shots in the game were 54-20 for the Reds.

- Neither team scored a power play goal even though there were 15 opportunities in the game - nine for St. FX and six for UNB. As the game got increasingly out of hand on the scoreboard the refs became a lot less lenient, no doubt as a way to keep control of the game and avoid a situation like we saw at the end of the Alberta/Saskatchewan game.

- Bennett (4 goals, 1 assist) and Laishram (1 goal) were named the player's of the game.

- Alex Dubeau stopped 19 out of 20 shots, although he wasn't forced to make as many tough saves like he was against Carleton.

- Attendance was 1021.

- UNB set school records for the most goals (9) and largest margin of victory (8) in a University Cup game.

- UNB improves to 2-2 all-time against the X-Men in University Cup play.

- The Reds have outscored the X-Men 29-5 in winning the last four head-to-head meetings between the two this season.

- Bennett is the first Reds player to have five points in a UCup game. His four goals match Cam Braes (twice) and Philippe Halley for the most by a UNB player.

- With the victory, it guarantees 5th year players Randy Gazzola, Matt Boudens, and Cameron Brace will finish their UNB careers with five University Cup medals. They will be looking to add a 3rd gold medal (2016, 2017) to a collection that also includes a silver (2015) and bronze (2018).

- This is the second time in three years St. FX has been blown out in a national semi-final game. They lost 8-0 to Saskatchewan in 2017.

- UNB will now focus their attention on the Alberta Golden Bears in what will be the first meeting between the two powerhouses since the 2015 title game. Game time is 9PM and it will be broadcast live on Sportsnet 360.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Huskies Can't Crack Golden Bears Code

The #1 seeded Alberta Golden Bears shut-out their rival and #5 seeded Saskatchewan Huskies for a 3rd straight time in two weeks to earn a second straight trip to the University Cup gold medal game. They will look to defend their championship against the winner of tonight's UNB/St. FX semi-final while the Huskies will play the loser for the bronze medal.

- The game was scoreless through forty minutes of play despite the shots being 31-21 in favour of the Bears and Alberta starting the second period with a five minute power play.

- Alberta broke the ice 1:38 into the third period when captain Riley Kieser took an innocent looking wrist shot from the side boards that found its way past a screened Taran Kozun in the Saskatchewan goal.

- The back-breaker for the Huskies came at 10:32. U Sports goaltender of the year Kozun played the puck behind his net right to Golden Bear Grayson Pawlenchuk, who found Luke Philp in the slot for an easy insurance goal into a wide open net.

- Rookie Pawlenchuk iced the contest with an empty net goal, pouncing on a turnover in the Huskies zone and hitting the inside of the post with a spinning shot.

- After the empty net goal there was a scuffle at centre ice that resulted in the Huskies Jesse Forsberg and Alex Forsberg receiving instigating penalties and game misconducts. They will almost certainly be suspended for tomorrow's game. 

- After losing game one of the Canada West final, Zach Sawchenko has shut-out the Huskies in three straight must-win games.

- The Huskies will be appearing in their 3rd bronze medal game in four years.

- Alberta will be participating in their 3rd title game in five years and will be looking to add to their record of 16 championships.

- The second semi-final between the UNB Reds and St. FX X-Men goes tonight at 9PM AST on Sportsnet 360.

UNB vs. St. FX: Preview, Prediction, Poll

For a second consecutive year, the AUS Champion UNB Reds will meet the team they beat in the conference final - the St. FX X-Men - in the University Cup semi-final. The Reds will be looking to avenge last season's heartbreaking 5-4 overtime defeat on home ice while St. FX will be looking to advance to their third national final in four years. Game time is 9PM AST and will be broadcast nationally on Sportsnet 360.

This will be the 16th meeting between the two teams in the last two years so there really isn't too much to say about this one. Both teams probably know more about the other than they do any other opponent so there shouldn't be any surprises or secrets at this point.

UNB have won five out of the seven match-ups against St. FX this season with their victories all coming in blowout fashion - 8-1, 5-1, and 8-2 in the regular season before posting 5-1 and 7-1 wins in a two game sweep in the AUS Final. Of course, those two losses (4-2 and 3-2) represent the only regulation set-backs suffered by UNB so far this season so that should give the X-Men some confidence, as well as their 5-3 comeback win over Queen's last night.

For the Reds to be successful they will need to up their game after yesterday's good, but not great, performance against the Carleton Ravens. Some keys:

- A good start will especially be important. In their five wins over the X-Men this season UNB scored the first goal while they fell behind 3-0 in each of the losses. The Reds will want to dictate the play and force St. FX to play their more uptempo style of game and try to wear out an X-Men team that has played a ton of playoff hockey this year, much like they did in the AUS Final.

- St. FX relies on their power play for offense more than any other team in the conference so an air-tight penalty kill and another strong game from Alex Dubeau will be paramount.

- The X-Men are also particularly dangerous at taking advantage of turnovers and counter-attacking to create offense. This means the defense will need to be more careful with the puck and maybe avoid taking the same risks they would take against most opponents.

- On offense, they have been able to pepper X-Men goaltenders with a high volume of shots this season. This has been due, in part, to the X-Men icing a young defence that the Reds have been able to expose at times. Chase Marchand is a great goalie, but if UNB can generate another 40-50 shot game they should be able to get enough by him to win.

- The X-Men got forwards Holden Cook - who has had some big games against UNB in his career - and Bryson Cianfrone back last night. However, they were still without Anthony Difruscia. Puck moving defenceman Santino Centorame also missed last night's game so the X-Men are still a bit banged up. The Reds had all their injured players back yesterday afternoon and appear to be relatively healthy given the time of year.

At the end of the day, the Reds have to be considered a fairly heavy favourite but, as we saw last year, anything can - and usually does - happen in a one game showdown. A hot goalie, lucky bounce, or an off-night by your special teams can be the difference between playing Sunday night for a gold medal or Sunday afternoon for a bronze.

POLL: Who do you got?


Who wins?

UNB
St. FX
Created with QuizMaker

Cook Leads X-Men Comeback

The #3 seeded Queen's Gaels jumped out to a 3-0 first period lead only to see the resilient #6 seeded St. FX X-Men rattle off five straight goals for a 5-3 victory in the last quarter-final match-up at the 2019 University Cup. The X-Men move on to face the UNB Reds in tomorrow nights semi-final.

- The Gaels received a pair of goals from Luke Edwards and Francesco Vilardi in taking a 3-0 lead less than 17 minutes into the game. They could have had more if not for some timely saves from Chase Marchand to keep the game from getting too far out of hand.

- After missing a number of playoff games the X-Men got a big boost with the return of leading scorer Holden Cook to the line-up. He proved to be a difference maker on this night with three points. His power play goal at 18:04 of the first period after a lucky bounce off the end boards got St. FX off and running as they were in control for most of the remaining 52 minutes of the game. He added a nice assist on Adam Stevens second period power play goal before tying the game on a scramble in front of the Gael's net 9:19 into the third period.

- Adam Laishram scored the eventual game-winning goal with just over six minutes remaining and Sam Studnicka put it away with an empty netter in the final minute.

- Shots in the game were 40-32 for St. FX.

- The X-Men went 2 for 5 on the power play. Queen's converted on their only opportunity.

- Cook and Edwards were the players of the game.

- OUA teams are now 0 for their last four University Cups, going 0-12 in that time.

- The two semi-finals are not only rematches of the Canada West and AUS Final, but also rematches of last years semi-finals in which Alberta and St. FX came out on top.

- Both games will be broadcast on Sportsnet 360. Alberta/Saskatchewan goes at 4PM AST while UNB/St. FX is slated for a 9PM AST start.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Dubeau Prevails In Goaltender Duel

The #2 seeded University of New Brunswick Reds were given all they could handle in their University Cup quarter-final this afternoon, but they managed to come away with a tight 2-1 win over the #7 seeded Carleton Ravens in a game where the two goalies stole the show. With the win UNB moves on to face the winner of tonight's Queen's/St. FX match-up tomorrow night at 9PM on Sportsnet.

It was a choppy beginning with the game featuring a number of whistles in the opening minutes. The Reds were able to open the scoring 7:15 into the contest when Chris Clapperton fired a pass from just inside the blue line to Stephen Anderson at the far face-off circle. Anderson then sent the puck back against the grain to Tyler Boland in front of the net, who was able to re-direct it in as he was skating through the top of the crease. That would be the only puck to cross the line in the period as UNB out-shot the Ravens by a 10-8 count.

The game really opened up in the second period with each team generating a number of scoring opportunities. After a good start to the period by UNB, it was Carleton getting the equalizer at 4:32. Alex Dubeau - who was ridiculous in this one - made an incredible save off Matthew Forchuk at the side of the net, but the Ravens forward followed up on his own rebound and made no mistake on his second chance, lifting the puck over Dubeau's out-stretched left leg to tie the game 1-1. The tie was short-lived, however. Just under two minutes later Matt Murphy found Alexandre Goulet with a pass to spring a short 3-on-1 near the hash marks. Goulet used Oliver Cooper as a decoy before hitting Matt Boudens with a cross-slot pass that the 5th year forward went down on one knee to one-time into the top right corner for a 2-1 lead. The Ravens regrouped quickly and got a 3-on-1 of their own shortly after the goal, but Dubeau held his ground with a couple big stops during a scramble at the side of his net. The Reds would take the 2-1 lead - and their first power play of the game - into intermission after out-shooting Carleton 18-6 in the frame.

After coming up empty on their power play that carried over into the third period, UNB had another chance to extend their lead when Carleton took a pair of penalties 58 seconds apart in the opening minutes and then another at 11:13. Goaltender Francois Brassard and the rest of his Ravens teammates stood tall though, killing off four consecutive penalties to keep the game within striking distance. A Carleton man advantage at 14:43 was effectively wiped out by the Reds which set the stage for a tense ending. With 2:39 remaining a harmless Ravens shot towards the net hit a UNB defender's skate and re-directed towards the goal, but an alert Dubeau was able to reach back and pull the puck off the goal-line to preserve the 2-1 lead. Carleton then had a couple of face-offs in the Reds zone with the goalie pulled, but with only a handful of seconds on the clock UNB was able to work the puck into the corner and kill the rest of the clock, allowing their fans to exhale after a tighter-than-expected victory. Shots in the period were 10-9 for the Reds.

- UNB had Chris Clapperton, Matthew Boucher, and Tristan Pomerleau all back in the line-up today after they all missed the last game of the AUS Final. Noah Carroll, Patrick Watling, and James McEwan were the scratches.

- Shots in the game were 38-23 for the Reds.

- Both teams came up empty on their power play chances - UNB in four tries, Carleton in three.

- The two goalies - Brassard and Dubeau - were appropriately named their team's player of the game.

- From all accounts the ice surface at the ENMAX Centre has not been the greatest so far, which no doubts hurts a team like UNB that relies on speed, skill, and pushing the pace. 

- Matt Boudens and Randy Gazzola both played in their 13th career University Cup game, which is now the most in UNB history.

- UNB improves to 4-0 all-time versus the Ravens, although this is the first match-up between the two that wasn't an exhibition game at the Aitken Centre.

- They don't play there often, but the Reds seem to enjoy western hospitality. They are now 7-0 out west under Gardiner MacDougall. They went 3-0 at the 2013 University Cup in Saskatchewan and also swept a three game road-trip to Alberta and Calgary in the fall of 2010.

- UNB has won their opening game at all 16 University Cup tournaments they have played in.

- However, this was their biggest scare since defeating Calgary by the same 2-1 score in 2011. In their last six tournament openers before today they had out-scored the opposition 33-7.

- The final quarter-final goes tonight at 10PM AST when the OUA Champion and #3 seeded Queen's Gaels take on the AUS runner-up and #6 seeded St. FX X-Men.

- The Reds will obviously be watching that game with great interest as the winner will be their opponent in tomorrow nights semi-final game, which goes at 9PM AST and will be broadcast live on Sportsnet 360.


Pronghorns No Match For Bears

As expected, the #1 seeded Alberta Golden Bears had no problem easily disposing the #8 seeded Lethbridge Pronghorns in the second quarter-final of the 2019 University Cup, thumping the hosts 7-1. The win sets up a rematch of last year's semi-final - and this year's Canada West final - with the rival Saskatchewan Huskies.

- The Bears, who held period leads of 1-0 and 4-1, received goals from U Sports Player of the Year Luke Philp (2), Ben Carroll, Cole Sanford, Sawyer Lange, Trevor Cox, and Brandon Magee.

- Replying for the Pronghorns was former St. Thomas Tommie Connor Sanvido, who made it 2-1 early in the second period. The game would remain close until the Bears tacked on a pair of goals in the latter half of the period, including one with only 17 seconds remaining in the period, and never looked back. 

- Philp (2 goals, 2 assists) was named Alberta's player of the game and no doubt impressed the various scouts in attendance as he was a threat all game long.

- Shots were 30-15 for the Golden Bears.

- Alberta went 1 for 3 with the power play and also scored a shorthanded goal. Lethbridge was 0 for 4 with the man advantage.

- The Bears and Huskies will renew acquaintances at 4PM AST on Saturday with a trip to Sunday's gold medal game on the line. 

- The next quarter-final game goes tomorrow at 4PM AST as the #2 University of New Brunswick Reds face the #7 Carleton Ravens.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Huskies Open UCup With Convincing Win

The #5 seeded University of Saskatchewan Huskies showed why they had the best record in the country this season in the opening game of the 2019 University Cup, cruising to a 6-1 victory over the #4 seed Guelph Gryphons. The Huskies will now move on to play in the national semi-final for a 4th straight year while the Gryphons see their season come to an end.

- The Huskies jumped out to a 2-0 lead after the first period thanks to goals from Logan McVeigh, on the power play, at 3:37 and Evan Fiala at 12:39.

- Saskatchewan added to their advantage on a Carson Stadnyk power play marker 1:46 into the second period before Scott Simmonds got the Gryphons on the board at 7:53, cutting the deficit back to two. Guelph pushed to get closer, but the Huskies power play was too much in this one as Wyatt Johnson scored their third goal with the man advantage at 13:41 made it 4-1.

- Stadnyk (12:49) and Levi Cable (16:42) capped the scoring in the third period.

- The Gryphons actually out-shot Saskatchewan 36-28, but U Sports goaltender of the year Taran Kozun was sharp all afternoon.

- The Huskies went 3 for 6 on the power play. Guelph was 0 for 2.

- Saskatchewan now await the winner of tonight's second quarter-final mach-up, which pits the hometown and #8 seeded Lethbridge Pronghorns going against the top seeded and overwhelming favourite Alberta Golden Bears. Game time is scheduled for 10PM AST.

- The Huskies and tonight's victor will play in Saturday's 4PM semi-final with a trip to the title game on the line.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Trio Of Reds Honoured At U Sports Awards Gala

While the action on the ice at the 2019 University Cup gets underway tomorrow afternoon, there was business to take care of off the ice this evening as the U Sports major award winners and all-star teams were handed out.

Among those honoured were Reds defenceman Randy Gazzola as the Randy Gregg award winner for community service, and forwards Christopher Clapperton - named to a 1st team all-Canadian and Matthew Boucher - named to the all-rookie team. 

Here are the complete results:

Player of the Year (Senator Joseph A. Sullivan Trophy): F Luke Philp (Alberta)
Goaltender of the Year: Taran Kozun (Saskatchewan)
Defenceman of the Year: Jason Fram (Alberta)
Rookie Of The Year (Clare Drake Award): G Etienne Monpetit (Moncton)
Most Sportsmanlike Player (R.W. Pugh Award): F Brendan Jacome (Ottawa)
Student-Athlete Community Service Award (Randy Gregg Award): D Randy Gazzola (UNB)
Coach Of The Year (Father George Kehoe Memorial Trophy): Patrick Grandmaitre (Ottawa)

First Team All-Stars
G - Taran Kozun (Saskatchewan)
D - Jason Fram (Alberta)
D - Alex Basso (Ryerson)
F - Chris Clapperton (UNB)
F - Luke Philp (Alberta)
F - Matt Mistele (Ryerson)

Second Team All-Stars
G - Etienne Montpetit (Moncton)
D - Nicholas Welsh (Saint Mary's)
D - Jesse Forsberg (Saskatchewan)
F - Riley Sheen (Calgary)
F - Slater Doggett (Queen's)
F - Hunter Garlent (Saint Mary's)

All-Rookie Team
G - Etienne Monpetit (Moncton)
D - Nicholas Welsh (Saint Mary's)
D - Connor Walters (Brock)
F - Matthew Boucher (UNB)
F - Grayson Pawlenchuk (Alberta)
F - Hugo Roy (Concordia)

Monday, March 11, 2019

UNB vs. Carleton: Preview, Prediction, Poll

The University of New Brunswick Reds quest for their 8th University Cup begins Friday at 4PM against the OUA's Carleton Ravens.

The AUS Champion Reds (25-2-3 regular season/5-0 playoffs) enter the tournament ranked #2 - behind only the Alberta Golden Bears - while the OUA Bronze medalist Ravens (18-5-5/5-3) are ranked #7. It is a bit of an unfortunate break for the Reds as the Ravens posted a better regular season record than four other teams in the tournament - Queen's, Guelph, St. FX, and Lethbridge - and have consistently been ranked in the U Sports top ten since late November, reaching a high of 4th two weeks ago.

This will be the 4th match-up all-time between the two schools with UNB emerging victorious in each of the previous three - 7-0 on September 19th, 2008, 3-1 on September 20th, 2012, and 3-2 on September 27th, 2013. However, no current player for either team played in those games. This will be their first meeting in the University Cup.

As previously mentioned, the Ravens - coached by former NHLer Shaun Van Allen - had a strong regular season with an 18-5-5 record, which ranked them 2nd in the OUA East division. They ended the regular season on a five game winning streak and kept that momentum going in the first round of the playoffs, sweeping their long-time nemesis the UQTR Patriotes. After dropping the first game of their second round series against the McGill Redmen, the Ravens rallied with a pair of close wins, including a thrilling overtime victory in game 3. They then faced the Queen's Gaels in the OUA East division final and, despite heavily out-shooting their opponent, were on the wrong side of a 3-2 overtime decision in game one and a 4-1 outcome in game 2 to get eliminated from title contention. However, with the OUA now receiving three berths at the University Cup the Ravens had a second chance to punch their ticket and they took full advantage, defeating the Western Mustangs 3-0 to claim the conference's bronze medal.

As expected, given their success this season, the Ravens were pretty strong statistically across the board. They ranked 9th in the country in goals per game (3.50) and 8th in goals against per game (2.53) while averaging 33.9 shots per game and 28.9 shots allowed per game. Their power play was solid, operating at a 19.4% success rate (7th in the OUA out of 20 teams), but their penalty killing is arguably their biggest strength, ranking 3rd in the OUA at 87.2%. However, they needed it to be as the Ravens were shorthanded more than all but one team in the conference.

Individually, the Ravens offense is driven primarily by four players. OUA East Rookie of the Year Jacob Smith led the team in regular season scoring with 35 points (17 goals, 18 assists) in 27 games with 4th year veteran and 2nd team all-star Alexandre Boivin closely behind with 34 points (15 goals, 19 assists). Their other main offensive threat up front comes in the form of Brogan O'Brien who had 11 goals and 14 assists. The postseason was a different story though as they got scoring from a number of unexpected sources. Unsung heroes Dalen Hedges (8 points after 4 in 9 regular season games), Matthew Forchuk (7, 14 in the regular season), and Jared Steege (7, 13 in the regular season) all stepped up to lead the team in scoring.

On defense, 2nd team-all star Joshua Burnside (3 goals, 18 assists) is by far their biggest threat from the blue-line as he had nine more points than their next closest defenceman. He added another six points in the postseason. All-rookie Darian Skeoch (6 points in 22 games) is also a player to watch on the Ravens back-end.

In goal, the Ravens rely almost exclusively on veteran Francois Brassard, who was named the OUA East division goaltender of the year and a 1st team all-star for his efforts this season. Brassard started 22 games this year, going 15-4-3 with a 2.33 goals against average and 0.918 save percentage. He played every minute in the playoffs, posting a 2.51 GAA and a 0.919 save percentage.

Interestingly, the Ravens somewhat resemble the Reds last two quarter-final opponents - Queen's in 2017 and Concordia last season - in that they get the majority of their scoring from a trio of forwards and a single defenceman, while also featuring a very good goaltender. While UNB easily disposed of both the Gaels and Stingers (and the Western Mustangs and Windsor Lancers in 2016 and 2015, respectively), this big and physical Ravens team is arguably their toughest first round match-up since the tournament moved to the current eight team format in 2015. While it would be surprising to see a lopsided score like in those games - and we all know how anything can happen in a winner-take-all game - the Reds skill (8 10+ goal scorers vs. 3 for Carleton), depth (13 18+ point scorers vs. 4 for Carleton), experience (five straight University Cup appearances vs. first for Carleton since 2016), and relentlessness should prove to be too much for the Ravens to handle for 60 minutes and lead them to a victory.

POLL: Who do you got?


Who wins?

UNB in a close one (1-2 goals)
UNB in a blowout (3+ goals)
Carleton
Created with QuizMaker

Bennett Named Athlete of the Week

Forward Kris Bennett has been named the UNB Reds/Papa John's Pizza male athlete of the week after helping lead the Reds to their second consecutive AUS title.

The 2nd year native of Brampton, Ontario recorded a goal and an assist in each game of the final against St. FX. This capped a fantastic postseason for Bennett as he notched a conference-leading 8 points (5 goals, 3 assists) and was named the playoff MVP.

Bennett and the rest of the Reds traveled to Halifax yesterday before flying to Alberta today as they prepare for the University Cup. UNB begins their tournament at 4PM on Friday with a match-up versus the Carleton Ravens.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

University Cup Seeds, Schedule Announced

U Sports has announced the schedule for the 2019 University Cup and, in a bit of a surprise, the #2 University of New Brunswick Reds will open their tournament against the #7 Carleton Ravens on Friday afternoon.

Many thought UNB would face the host Lethbridge Pronghorns - who ended up being seeded 8th - in the opening round, but the organizing committee obviously could not justify ranking the 9-17-2 Pronghorns ahead of the 18-5-5 Ravens (or the Reds ahead of the #1 Alberta Golden Bears), even though it leads to a quarter-final match-up against their conference-rival Alberta, something the committee has always tried to avoid. As a result, the Reds are looking at a much tougher opponent than originally thought.

Here are the participating teams:

#1) Alberta Golden Bears (24-3-1 regular season record/4-1 playoff record) - Canada West Champion
#2) UNB Reds (25-2-3/5-0) - AUS Champion
#3) Queen's Gaels (18-10-0/7-1) - OUA Champion
#4) Guelph Gryphons (13-11-4/6-3) - OUA Runner-Up
#5) Saskatchewan Huskies (25-3-0/3-2) - Canada West Runner-Up
#6) St. FX X-Men (15-12-3/5-5) - AUS Runner-Up
#7) Carleton Ravens (18-5-5/5-3) - OUA Bronze
#8) Lethbridge Pronghorns (9-17-2, 0-2) - Host

Here is the full schedule:

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 13th

  • Meet The Teams Media Conference, 3PM AST
  •  All-Canadian Awards Gala, 10 PM AST

THURSDAY, MARCH 14th (QUARTER-FINALS)
  • #4 Guelph Gryphons vs. #6 Saskatchewan Huskies, 4PM AST
  • #1 Alberta Golden Bears vs. #8 Lethbridge Pronghorns, 10PM AST
FRIDAY, MARCH 15th (QUARTER-FINALS)
  • #2 UNB Reds vs. #7 Carleton Ravens, 4PM AST
  • #3 Queen's Gaels vs. #6 St. FX X-Men, 10PM AST
SATURDAY, MARCH 16th (SEMI-FINALS)
  • Semi-Final #1 - Thursday winners, 4PM AST
  • Semi-Final #2 - Friday winners, 9 PM AST
SUNDAY, MARCH 17th
  • Bronze Medal Game - Semi-Final losers, TBA
  • Gold Medal Game - Semi-Final winners, 9PM AST
NOTE: The semi-finals and finals will be broadcast live on television on Sportsnet 360 and web-cast at SN NOW. The remaining games will be web-cast, for a fee, at USPORTS.LIVE

Saturday, March 9, 2019

UNB At The University Cup

The University of New Brunswick are off to Lethbridge, Alberta this week for the 2019 University Cup, which begins on Thursday afternoon and wraps up on Sunday night.

This will be their 18th appearance all-time at the tournament, including their 16th in the last 23 years, and 13th in 19 years under head coach Gardiner MacDougall.

Here is how they have made out at the previous 17 tournaments:

1964 (Kingston): 1-1 (Lost in semi-final)
1984 (Fredericton): 0-2 (Lost in Atlantic regional)
1997 (Toronto): 1-1 (Lost in final)
1998 (Saskatoon): 3-0 (Won championship)
2000 (Saskatoon): 2-1 (Lost in final)
2003 (Fredericton): 1-2 (Lost in semi-final + bronze medal game)
2004 (Fredericton): 2-1 (Lost in final)
2007 (Moncton): 3-0 (Won championship)
2008 (Moncton): 2-1 (Lost in final)
2009 (Thunder Bay): 3-0 (Won championship)
2011 (Fredericton): 3-0 (Won championship)
2012 (Fredericton): 1-1 (Lost in semi-final)
2013 (Saskatoon): 3-0 (Won championship)
2015 (Halifax): 2-1 (Lost in final)
2016 (Halifax): 3-0 (Won championship)
2017 (Fredericton): 3-0 (Won championship)
2018 (Fredericton): 2-1 (Lost in semi-final, Won bronze medal game)

Some notes of interest:

- The Varsity Reds 7 championships and 12 championship games rank 3rd to Alberta (16 and 21) and Toronto (10 and 13) all-time.

- Their 5 championship game losses are tied with Alberta and Saint Mary's for 2nd most all-time. Saskatchewan holds the dubious distinction of losing 6 championship games.

- The V-Reds have won 6 titles and appeared in 8 title games in the last 12 years.

- They have reached the gold medal game in 12 out of their last 15 appearances at the tournament.

- Interestingly, the three times they failed to reach the final, the tournament was held in Fredericton. The last nine times they have had to travel to the University Cup, the Reds played in the championship game.

- UNB will be appearing in their 5th straight tournament for the first time in school history. This means seniors Randy Gazzola, Matt Boudens, and Cameron Brace have made the University Cup every year of their UNB careers. They are looking to add to their collection of two gold emedals, one silver medal, and one bronze medal.

- Boudens and Gazzola are currently tied with five others for the most University Cup games played in UNB history at 12. 

-  The Reds have played in a medal game in each of their previous five appearances at the tournament.

- UNB is 35-12 all-time at the University Cup, which equates to a 0.745 winning percentage. They are 28-7 (0.800) under Gardiner MacDougall.

- This includes 25 wins in their last 29 games.

- They have out-scored the opposition 193-117 in those games for an average of 4.10 goals per game and 2.49 goals against per game.

- UNB has recorded 7 shut-outs at the University Cup. They have never been shut-out.

- They are 7-3 all-time in games decided in overtime.

- This is the 4th time UNB will be attending a University Cup out west.

- In their previous three appearance - all in Saskatoon - they won two gold medals (1998 and 2013) and one silver medal (2000).

- The Reds have never played a University Cup game against either Lethbridge of Carleton. Their all-time University Cup record against the other participating schools is 4-4 against Alberta, 1-0 against Guelph, 1-0 against Queen's, 6-0 against Saskatchewan, 1-2 against St. FX.

- Next season the University Cup will return to Halifax with the Acadia Axemen assuming hosting duties. 

Friday, March 8, 2019

Rassell Awarded Monthly Honour

Forward Mark Rassell has been named the UNB Reds/Valley Graphics male athlete of the month for February. 

In six February games - the final three regular season games and the three game series sweep versus UPEI - Rassell notched five goals and added a pair of assists. This continued a strong second half of the season for the rookie as the Calgary native had 11 points in nine January contests.

Rassell finished his rookie campaign with an impressive 29 points, including 13 goals, in 30 regular season games before adding another four goals in five playoff games. 

He will look to continue his hot play next week when the Reds are in Lethbridge for the University Cup.  

University Cup Field Set

The Carleton Ravens rode a 40 save shutout from Francois Brassard to a 3-0 victory over the visiting Western Mustangs tonight in Ottawa to win the OUA bronze medal and clinch the 8th - and final - berth at next week's University Cup. The Ravens will be making their first appearance at the tournament since 2016, which was also the last time the Mustangs attended.

There is one more playoff game to be played and that is the Queen's Cup, which goes tomorrow night in Kingston with the Queen's Gaels hosting the Guelph Gryphons. Once we know the outcome of that game we will have a pretty good idea what the rankings will look like for the University Cup.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Reds Claim AUS Title

(Photo Credit - Brian Smith)
The visiting University of New Brunswick Reds went into the Keating Millennium Centre in Antigonish tonight and left with their 16th AUS Championship. The visitors silenced a sold-out St. FX crowd with a convincing 7-1 victory over the X-Men to sweep the best 2-of-3 final.

It only took 51 seconds for UNB to get on the board with Cameron Brace (Gazzola) cutting towards the net and hesitating just long enough before snapping the puck past into the far side of net, past Chase Marchand. The Reds didn't let up from there as they would add a pair of goals late in the period. At 15:00, while on the power play, Olivier LeBlanc (Bennett, McEwan) let loose a shot from the point that found its way through traffic and in to double the lead. Then, just 2:51 later, LeBlanc got the puck from Bennett and took another shot from the blue line, but this time it hit Tyler Boland in the slot. Boland wasted no time in locating the puck, turning around, and firing it past Marchand for a 3-0 lead, which the Reds would take into the dressing room. Shots in the period were 8-7 for UNB.

UNB added two more goals in the 2nd period, sandwiched around the X-Men's first of the night, to take complete control of the game. Oliver Cooper (Murphy, Boudens) got his second goal in as many games when he walked out from behind the net and beat Marchand from in close. St. FX finally got on the board at 8:19 while on the power play. Alex Dubeau made the original save on a Cole MacDonald shot, but the rebound squirted out to Mark Tremaine at the side of the net and he deposited into the open cage to cut the deficit back to three at 4-1. At 17:43 Kris Bennett extended the lead on a breakaway. Bennett took a Mark Simpson pass at the X-Men blue-line without a defender in sight. He made a move to get Marchand down, made a step to his left, and had the whole top of the net to put the puck, which he did not miss to push the lead to 5-1. Cooper almost added another goal, but his shot went into the net just after the buzzer went signaling the end of the period. UNB held a 17-4 shot advantage in the period.

It was more of the same in the final twenty minutes. At 3:58 Boland and Stephen Anderson teamed up for UNB's 6th goal. After a failed two-on-one rush, Anderson retrieved the puck from behind the net and made a quick pass back out front to Boland who snapped it home. Then at 11:25 Boland completed his hat-trick with Anderson and Patrick Watling earning the assists on the final goal of the night. The Reds out-shot the X-Men 9-7 in the frame.

- Shots in the game were 34-18 for UNB.

- Christopher Clapperton, Matthew Boucher, and Tristan Pomerleau were all out of the line-up for the Reds. This meant Patrick Watling and Noah Carroll saw their first action of the postseason.

- The X-Men were once again without their top scorer in Holden Cook, among others.

- Boland and Tremaine were named their team's player of the game.

- UNB went 2 for 8 on the power play. The X-Men were 1 for 5.

- St. FX can take solace in the fact that they won 33 out of the 61 face-offs in the game. 

- Attendance was 1840.

- This is UNB’s 16th AUS title and 6th in the last decade.

- Seniors Randy Gazzola, Matt Boudens, and Cameron Brace wrap up their AUS careers with a 3rd conference championship.

- Kris Bennett was named the playoff MVP. He led the all players with nine points (five goals, four assists) in five postseason games.  

- The Reds have now won their last 10 playoff games, out-scoring the opposition 43-11 in those contests. This includes a 23-5 mark against St. FX in four AUS final games.

- Alex Dubeau's career AUS playoff numbers? 10-0 with a 1.07 goals against average and a 0.948 save percentage.

- As AUS champions, UNB will enter the University Cup as either the #1 or #2 seed. St. FX will almost certainly be seeded #6 with Saskatchewan getting the nod at #5. So, like last year, there is a definite possibility these two teams will see each other again this year.

- Next stop for the Reds is Lethbridge, Alberta and the 57th University Cup. The competition begins next Thursday afternoon. We will have more - including the schedule as soon as it is released - in the coming days.

News and Notes: Top Ten, Clapperton, FISU Games

After an impressive showing in the opening game of the best 2-of-3 AUS Final, the Reds are in Antigonish tonight as they look to close out the St. FX X-Men. In the meantime, here are a couple of notes of interest:

- The Reds stayed in second spot in the latest U Sports top ten rankings released yesterday. The Alberta Golden Bears, fresh off of a 3rd consecutive Canada West championship, continue to lead the way with 296 points (146 media points with 11 1st place votes + 150 ELO points). UNB was close behind with 273 points (138 media points with the other four 1st place votes + 135 ELO points). The Canada West runner-up Saskatchewan Huskies (236 points), St. FX X-Men (181), who made the biggest jump going from unranked last week to 4th this week, and OUA West Division champion Guelph Gryphons (157) rounded out the top five. The OUA East winners from Queen's (154), and the eliminated Ottawa Gee-Gees (109), Carleton Ravens (88), McGill Redmen (46), and Saint Mary's Huskies (46) make up the rest of the top ten. Interestingly, the Western Mustangs, who were beaten by Guelph but, along with Carleton, still have a chance to get to the University Cup, were only ranked 11th with 33 points.

- Monty Mosher has a nice story on recently crowned AUS MVP Christopher Clapperton.

- It hasn't gotten much attention around these parts, mainly due to the lack of involvement from most of the conference, but the Winter Universiade Games are currently taking place in Krasnoyarsk, Russia. As usual, the men's hockey team is made up of U Sports players but, unlike most years where the team is comprised solely of players from one particular conference, the timing of the games meant any player from across the country was under consideration, provided their team was eliminated early enough from their conference playoffs. The only players from the AUS to make the trip were a trio of Acadia Axemen - defencemen Liam Maaskant and Garrett McFadden and forward Stephen Harper. 

Thus far, Team Canada is off to a 3-0 start with wins over the United Kingdom (12-0), Latvia (6-1), and Switzerland (6-2). They wrap up the round-robin with games against Sweden on Thursday and medal contender Kazakhstan on Saturday. The semi-finals and final are scheduled for Monday and Tuesday. 

Monday, March 4, 2019

Reds Lockdown X-Men

The University of New Brunswick Reds put on a puck possession clinic tonight on their way to a decisive 5-1 victory over the visiting St. FX X-Men in the opening game of the best 2-of-3 AUS Final. UNB will look to close out the series on Wednesday night in Antigonish.

The opening period was the closest of the night with the Reds holding a 14-6 advantage in shots on goal and scoring the line goal. X-Men goaltender Chase Marchand was locked in from the beginning as he continued his recent hot stretch, but the Reds finally solved him at 18:03 when Kris Bennett (Pomerleau, Brace) deflected a high point shot while in traffic in front of the net. St. FX argued that the puck was knocked in via a high stick but it was to no avail.

The Reds started to really take over the game in the 2nd period, out-shooting the X-Men 22-2. Stephen Anderson was re-inserted back on the top line with Chris Clapperton and Tyler Boland and the move paid immediate dividends as they were a force all night. This was most evident when they worked a long cycle deep in the X-Men zone that resulted in Anderson stickhandling through a pair of defenders in the slot before finding Clapperton at the left face-off circle for a one-time blast into the top of the net. Joe Gatenby was credited with the secondary assist on the goal, which game at 7:38. Unfortunately, three mental mistakes in quick succession by the Reds a few minutes later briefly got St. FX in the game. First, UNB was called for a too many men on the ice penalty at 12:17 and then, on the ensuing face-off, Matt Murphy lifted the puck out of play for a delay of game penalty. The Reds almost killed off the extended two man advantage, but with 20 seconds remaining the puck came to Alex Dubeau behind the net and his attempt to clear the puck up the middle of the ice was easily picked off by Daniel Roberston, who quickly deposited it into a wide open net to cut the lead to 2-1. Murphy did not waste any time in making up for his gaffe. Shortly after coming out of the penalty box he took a pass from Bennett just inside the offensive zone, got a step on the defender coming down the left wing, and had his shot dribble through Marchand and into the far corner to restore the two goal lead. The goal, which was also assisted by Alexandre Goulet, came only 36 seconds after Robertson's. UNB would take the 3-1 lead into the final period.

The Reds added a pair of goals in the 3rd period, which were sandwiched around a potentially devastating injury. At 7:12 Mark Rassell (Brace, Gazzola) kept his hot-streak going, coming out of the corner with the puck and firing a low shot from the slot that beat Marchand. The freshman forward has now scored in all four games this postseason. The game wasn't all good news unfortunately. Around the mid-way point of the period Clapperton was involved in a collision at the X-Men blue-line that caused the MVP to leave the game with what appeared to be a leg injury. He would not return. Fortunately, by this point the Reds had the game well in hand and they capped the scoring with a buzzer-beating tap-in goal from Oliver Cooper (McEwan, Goulet) at 19:59. Shots in the period were 11-2 for UNB. 

- James McEwan replaced Matthew Boucher in the line-up. Patrick Watling and Noach Carroll remained out.

- Shots in the game were 47-10 for the Reds.

- St. FX went 1 for 4 on the power play. UNB was 1 for 5.

- The Reds absolutely rolled the X-Men in the face-off circle, winning 40 out of 55 draws. Samuel Dove-McFalls had an alright night at the dot, winning all 17 of his chances. Mark Simpson (10 out of 16) and Goulet (7 out of 11) also had strong nights.

- Bennett and Marchand were named the player of the game for their respective teams.

- Attendance was 2903.

- The Reds have now won nine straight AUS playoff games.

- In the last three AUS playoff match-ups between the two, UNB has out-scored St. FX 16-4.

- The X-Men have been out-shot in all but one of their nine play-off games this year. This was the first time Marchand hasn't posted at least a 0.900 save percentage in those games.

- The University Cup picture got a little clearer last night after a pair of game 3's. Out west the Alberta Golden Bears captured yet another Canada West title, defeating the Saskatchewan Huskies 1-0. They will enter the University Cup ranked either #1 or #2 while the Huskies will go in as the #5 or #6 seed. The OUA West Division final also needed a 3rd and deciding game and it was the Guelph Gryphons who came away with a thrilling 4-3 double overtime win over the Western Mustangs. The Gryphons have clinched a berth at the University Cup and will play the Queen's Gaels for the OUA Championship next Saturday. Meanwhile, the Mustangs will play the Carleton Ravens the same day for the conference's third berth .

- This series resumes Wednesday night in Antigonish with UNB looking to wrap up a second consecutive AUS Championship. The game is scheduled for 7PM and can be viewed at www.AUStv.ca.

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Reds vs. X-Men: Round 4

In what has become an annual occurrence, the University of New Brunswick Reds and the St. FX X-Men will meet with the AUS Championship on the line, adding yet another chapter to their storied history. This is the 4th straight year the two teams will face each other in the best 2-of-3 final

Here is everything you need to know to get ready for yet another battle between the two rivals.

- The schedule for the series is as follows:

Game 1 - Monday, March 4th at UNB
Game 2 - Wednesday, March 6th at St. FX
Game 3 - Friday, March 8th at UNB (if necessary)

All games will be streamed live at www.AUStv.ca

- After receiving a first round bye, the regular season champion Reds (25-2-3) defeated the UPEI Panthers in three straight games in a semi-final series that was much closer than a sweep would generally indicate. The Panthers pushed the Reds in each of the first two games at the Aitken Centre, falling 3-1 and 2-1 in overtime, before running out of gas in a 5-0 loss last Monday night in Charlottetown.

- The X-Men have taken more of a scenic route to the finals. By virtue of finishing 3rd in the regular season with a 15-12-3 record, St. FX needed to play a best 2-of-3 quarter-final series against the Acadia Axemen. They were pushed to the limit, but emerged victorious after a 4-1 win at home in the third and deciding game to move on. In the semi-finals they faced the 2nd seeded Saint Mary's Huskies and quickly fell into a 2-0 hole. However, as has been their trademark over the years, the X-Men showed their resiliency by winning the next three games - including 3-1 in Halifax last night - to earn a berth in the AUS Final for a 4th straight year as well as at the University Cup in Lethbridge for a 5th straight season. To make this even more impressive, the X-Men played the final three games of that series without a couple of their regular, including their leading scorer Holden Cook.

- These two have met in the last three AUS Finals with St. FX winning the first two in two game sweeps before the Reds turned the table last season, winning 6-3 in game 1 and 5-0 in game 2 to capture their 7th conference title under Gardiner MacDougall and their 15th all-time.

- While the Reds rebounded from those AUS Final loses by capturing the University Cup both years, including defeating the X-Men 3-1 in the 2016 National Championship game in Halifax, it was the X-Men who got the last laugh last season as they went on to defeat the Reds 5-4 in an overtime thriller at the University Cup at the AUC.

- This is the 12th time under Gardiner MacDougall the V-Reds have faced the X-Men in the playoffs, with five of those meetings occurring in the finals.

2001 - Lost 2 games to 1 in semi-finals
2003 - Won 3 games to 1 in finals
2005 - Won 2 games to 0 in quarter-finals
2006 - Won 2 games to 1 in quarter-finals
2007 - Won 3 games to 1 in semi-finals
2010 - Lost 3 games to 0 in semi-finals
2011 - Won 3 games to 2 in finals
2015 - Won 3 games to 2 in semi-finals
2016 - Lost 2 games to 0 in finals
2017 - Lost 2 games to 0 in finals
2018 - Won 2 games to 0 in finals

- UNB has won seven out of the previous 11 series.

- Although they a slight 19-16 record overall, UNB has lost 11 out of their last 19 playoff games against the X-Men.

- The Varsity Reds will look to have better success in Antigonish, where they are only 5-11 in the playoffs under MacDougall. By comparison, they are 14-5 in games played at the AUC.

- St. FX has a conference leading total of 26 AUS banners. UNB ranks 2nd with 15 all-time.

- The two teams played five regular season games, with UNB winning three of those meetings. They won each of the two first half match-ups quite handily - an 8-1 evisceration at the AUC on November 9th in a game in which UNB out-shot the X-Men 55-19 and then followed that up exactly a week later with a 5-1 road victory. The second half was a completely different story though as St. FX handed the Reds their only two regulation losses of the season, both in Antigonish, with a 4-2 win on January 12th and a 3-2 decision on January 26th. The Reds rebounded with a 8-2 win on their final meeting on February 8th in a game that no one is going to take too seriously given the severely depleted bench the X-Men were forced to play with.

- St. FX struggled to score for most of the year as they ranked only 5th in the conference with 90 goals scored (compared to UNB's 150). However, they still possess a very dangerous power play, clicking 33 times with the man advantage this season at a rate of 20.8%. Both numbers ranked 3rd in the league. Furthermore, the X-Men get 36% of their goals on the power play, tops in the AUS, and they received a league-high 159 power play opportunities. Needless to say, staying out of the penalty box will go a long way towards getting the desired outcome in this series.

- In fact, St. FX's special teams are great across the board. In addition to their outstanding power play, the X-Men killed off penalties at a clip of 85.2% this season, ranking only behind UNB's 89.%. They also scored a league-high seven shorthanded goals.

- Although St. FX didn't put up big goal scoring numbers, they still feature a number of dangerous players. This includes Holden Cook (10th in the AUS with 13 goals, 16 assists in 25 games), 5th year forward Adam Stevens (10 goals, 14 assists), Mark Tremaine (9 goals, 15 assists), and Matt Needham (9 goals, 13 assists). On the back-end they are led by Cole MacDonald (19 points in 20 games) and impressive rookie Adam Holwell (16 points).

- It should be noted that Cook, along with fellow forwards Bryson Cianfrone (10 points in 21 games) and Anthony Difruscia, have been out of the line-up recently. There has been no word on their status moving forward. This has prompted some of their depth players and other seldom-used players to be thrust in to bigger roles and given more ice-time and, so far, they have responded in a big way to help St. FX make it this far.

- Of course, the biggest reason the X-Men have gotten to the final has been the play of last season's AUS MVP and U Sports Goaltender of the Year, Chase Marchand. After a bit of an uneven regular season - 7-8-3 with a 2.90 GAA and 0.910 save percentage - Marchand has been locked in all postseason, kicking out 301 out of the 317 shots he has faced (0.950 save percentage) while sporting a 2.00 GAA. He has been the primary reason for many of St. FX's victories this playoff as they have been heavily out-shot. He will most likely need to remain lights out if the X-Men hope to make it three AUS titles in four years.

- Unlike most years, where we have a pretty good idea where UNB could be seeded at the University Cup (depending on the outcome of the AUS Final), there are a number of viable options this year. A big part of this uncertainty is due to the ongoing Canada West final between the #1 nationally ranked Alberta Golden Bears and #3 Saskatchewan Huskies. If UNB (#2 nationally in the latest poll) wins they will almost certainly be seeded either #1 or #2 with the Canada West winner taking the other spot. If Alberta wins they most likely stay at #1 with UNB #2. If Saskatchewan wins it makes things a but more complicated. UNB would probably enter at #1 with Saskatchewan #2, but it would not be completely out of the question for the voters to deem a series win over Alberta to be more impressive than a series win over St. FX (especially if it is a sweep vs. a three game series win) and bump the Huskies ahead of the Reds. However, if UNB were to lose to St. FX, the best they can hope for is the #5 seed and it wouldn't be out of the question for them to slip to 6th, especially if Alberta loses to Saskatchewan. So there are a few different scenarios still in play here and we probably won't know for sure what the seeds are going to be until the committee announces the UCup draw next weekend

- Speaking of the Alberta Golden Bears and Saskatchewan Huskies, they faced off in game 1 of their best 2-of-3 Canada West Final last night in Saskatoon. The Huskies took the opener by a 4-2 score, snapping the Bears 23 game streak without a regulation loss. Both teams have already guaranteed a spot at the University Cup but, just like the AUS Final, the outcome of this series has wide-ranging ramifications on the University Cup seeding.

- In the OUA, the Queen's Gaels polished off a two game sweep of the Carleton Ravens last night with a 4-1 win to advance to next Saturday's Queen's Cup game and punch their ticket to Lethbridge. Game 2 of the West division final goes tonight in Guelph with the Western Mustangs holding a 1-0 lead in that series. The winner will travel to Kingston to face Queen's for the OUA Championship and also book their trip to the UCup. The loser will face the Ravens next Saturday in a bronze medal game to decide the OUA's third representative in Lethbridge.

- Prediction time: Who do you think will win the 2019 AUS Championship?


Who wins?
UNB in 2
UNB in 3
St. FX in 2
St. FX in 3
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