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.