Saturday, September 28, 2019

Reds Let One Slip Away

The University of New Brunswick Reds rebounded from a 3-1 deficit to take a 4-3 lead early in the 3rd period, but the Acadia Axemen stormed back with a trio of goals to emerge with a 6-4 victory tonight in a back and forth affair in Wolfville.

With all of the webcasts down tonight, there isn't a lot of information to go off of. Tristan Pomerleau (Anderson, Watling) opened the scoring 4:41 into the 2nd period before Acadia struck for three goals in 90 seconds midway through the period. UNB then answered with three consecutive goals of their own - by Mark Rassell (Murphy, Boucher) at 12:45, Alexandre Goulet (Watling) with 0.8 seconds left in the 2nd period, and Tyler Boland (Anderson, Gatenby) 4:23 into the 3rd period - to restore the Reds one goal lead at 4-3. However, the Axemen responded again. Garrett McFadden tied the game on the power play at 6:23 and they struck again with the man advantage at 12:50 to re-take the lead. A Jordy Stallard marker just over a minute later gave Acadia some insurance and they would hold on for the 6-4 win.

- Benjamin Gagne was once again the lone scratch.

- Shots were 33-29 for UNB.

- Samuel Harvey made his first regular season start between the pipes.

- The Reds were 1 for 3 on the power play. Acadia scored twice on seven opportunities.

- Through two games UNB has surrendered 15 power play chances, which is way too many. 

- Additionally, UNB was assessed 48 penalty minutes on 12 infractions. Mark Rassell was given a game misconduct late in the game for arguing with an official.

- To add to the frustration, the Axemen were playing with a short bench, including being without their top scorer in Stephen Harper.

- UNB's struggles in Wolfville continue. They have won only 10 of their last 23 games there.

- The six goals surrendered tonight are the most UNB has allowed against a U Sports team since a 7-4 loss to Moncton on November 25th, 2015.

- In other AUS action tonight, Stephen Johnson's overtime winner gave Saint Mary's their first win of the season in a 3-2 decision against Moncton and St. FX blasted UPEI 9-2 in the X-Men's home opener.

- UNB will now take a break from AUS action and will head across the border next weekend for a pair of exhibition games against NCAA competition. They face Boston College on Saturday and Maine on Sunday.


Friday, September 27, 2019

Reds Spoil Dauphinee Centre Debut

The University of New Brunswick Reds proved not to be gracious visitors in the inaugural game at Saint Mary's new home as they began their AUS and U Sports title defense with a 9-3 blitzing against the Huskies in the 2019 - 2020 season opener.

The Reds got off to a blistering start by scoring three goals on their first five shots to build a 3-0 lead just under 10 minutes into the contest. Kris Bennett (LeBlanc) picked up right where he left off in March, taking advantage of a collision and miscommunication at the Huskies blue line to jump on a loose puck and go in all alone, beating Eric Brassard on the backhand for a power play goal at 4:47. Alexandre Goulet (Dove-McFalls) was rewarded for some aggressive fore-checking work on the penalty kill and made it 2-0 with a wrist shot from the slot at 7:11 - one second after a UNB penalty expired. The Reds extended their lead just 2:25 later after a nice passing play. Bennett got the puck to Goulet near the hash marks and he slipped it down low to Mark Simpson who beat Brassard five-hole, making it 3-0 just like that. Saint Mary's got their first goal at their new home at 16:08 after Dawson Theede forced a turnover behind the UNB net and found Stephen Johnson with a cross-crease pass. The Reds would take a 3-1 lead into the locker room after out-shooting the Huskies 9-8.

A Matthew Boucher (Cooper, Carroll) snipe off of a 2-on-2 rush two minutes into the 2nd period restored UNB's three goal lead and it looked like they would cruise from there, especially after killing off a full two minute two man disadvantage thanks to some timely saves from Rylan Parenteau. However, the Huskies played their best period of the night and their persistence finally paid off in the form of a pair of goals before the end of the period. Moments after the Reds failed to convert on a 3-on-1, newly minted Huskies captain Anthony Repaci turned a defender inside out with a nice move before putting the puck past Parenteau at 9:48. Saint Mary's then crawled back within a goal when Theede scored on their 7th power play of the night with 18 seconds left in the frame. SMU out-shot UNB 13-9 in the period.

The final twenty minutes was all UNB as they turned the game into a blowout with five unanswered goals on 13 shots. The Reds got some breathing room 26 seconds into the period when Goulet (Bennett) converted off the rush with a goal that was very similar to Boucher's earlier in the game. The dangerous UNB power play then went to work to put this one out of reach. Olivier LeBlanc (Boland, Anderson) at 5:11 and Bennett (LeBlanc, Boland) at 13:02 scored PP markers and then, after Goulet (Watling) completed his hat-trick at 15:31, Mark Rassell (Carroll) capped the scoring by adding the Reds 4th power play goal of the night at 16:18.

- This was head coach Gardiner MacDougall's 600th career victory. This includes 110 exhibition wins + 100 playoff/University Cup wins + 390 regular season wins.

- Defenceman Benjamin Gagne was the lone scratch for UNB.

- Shots were 31-29 for the Reds.

- Special teams were a big factor in this one. UNB went 4 for 7 with the man advantage while SMU was only 1 for 8.

- There were a total of 20 penalties called in the game.

- Rylan Parenteau made a number of outstanding over the latter part of the 1st period and entire 2nd period to preserve the lead.

- Goulet, Bennett, and Theede were the game's three stars.

- UNB went 44 for 79 in the face-off circle with Mark Simpson (13 for 20) and Tyler Boland (12 for 15) leading the way.

- Attendance was 792. Seating capacity for the Dauphinee Centre is 800.

- The Huskies previous home - the Halifax Forum - was notorious for having the nets come off their pegs. It appears that frustrating feature has also migrated to their new digs as there were a number of instances where the goal came off its moorings, causing a stoppage of play.

- Gagne is wearing #44 this season (last worn by Colin Suellentrop), Brady Gilmour is wearing #19 (last worn by Cameron Brace), and Samuel Harvey is wearing #1 (last worn by Travis Fullerton).

- The AUS has adopted the hybrid icing rule this season. While it wasn't prominent tonight, this rule change should benefit UNB given how often they attempt stretch passes. Now instead of having a missed attempt automatically be called icing they will still have a chance to retrieve the puck.

- The Reds have scored 18 goals in 7 periods of play so far this season.

- Goulet's hat-trick is the first by a UNB player in a season opener since way back in...2017, when Stephen Anderson did it in a 6-2 victory over Moncton.

- UNB has now won nine straight season opening games, although this is only the second road game during that span. Their last setback was a 4-2 defeat in PEI to open the 2010-2011 season.

- The last time UNB played SMU in their season opener was 1989 (1-1 tie).

- This is the most goals the Reds have scored against the Huskies since a 10-3 win at the 2010 Fall Classic. In terms of regular season games, it is their most since January of 1995 (13-6 win).

- Interestingly, Saint Mary's defeated UNB 10-2 in the first game played at the AUC in 1976. Of course, UNB went 1-19-0 that season. Needless to say, times have changed.

- According to @VRedsHckyStats, this matches UNB's most goals (9) and largest margin of victory (6) in a season opening road game. They defeated Mount Allison 9-5 in 1987 and Cape Breton 8-2 in 1993.

- It was a perfect night for the road teams tonight. Moncton grabbed a 5-2 win over Acadia in Wolfville and Dalhousie rebounded from a wild 7-6 shootout loss to St. FX in the AUS opener on Wednesday night to pick up a 5-4 shootout victory against UPEI in Charlottetown.

- The Reds travel to Acadia tomorrow night for a 7PM date with the Axemen. As usual, you can watch the game live on AUStv.ca.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Season Begins Tomorrow

The curtain will rise on the 2019-2020 AUS season tomorrow evening when the Dalhousie Tigers welcome the University Cup bronze medal-winning St. FX X-Men to Halifax. In the meantime, here are some previews to get you ready for the start of a new campaign:

- The good news: Bruce Hallihan of the Daily Gleaner is once again back with another edition of his indispensable conference outlook. The bad news: It is behind a paywall. If you have a subscription you can access his overview and team breakdowns at the links provided.

- Dwayne Tingley at www.atlanticuniversitysport.com also provides a look at the season ahead.

- For the first time, a pre-season coaches poll was conducted. Each head coach was asked to rank the other six teams in the conference and UNB received all six 1st place votes for a total of 36 points. St. FX followed with the other 1st place vote (from Gardiner MacDougall) plus all six 2nd place votes. Saint Mary's (3rd) and Dalhousie (6th) were the only other two teams to get ranked the same across the board.

- Glenn MacDonald of the Halifax Chronicle Herald takes a look at the league's four Nova Scotia based squads.

Friday, September 20, 2019

UNB/York Game Called Off

File this under "things you don't see every day". After playing through a scoreless first period - despite UNB controlling the majority of play - this afternoon's exhibition game between the Reds and York Lions was called off due to an "ice malfunction", which was apparently a hole in the ice.

It has certainly been a strange beginning to the season for UNB. Their first scheduled exhibition game against Acadia on Monday was cancelled and now they only get four periods of play in against the Lions.

Next up is the season opener against Saint Mary's next Friday. It is scheduled to be the first game played at the newly-built Dauphinee Centre, but even that isn't a sure thing at the moment due to construction delays.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Reds Get Offensive In Opener

The visiting University of New Brunswick Reds started their 2019-2020 season with a bang, scoring the first nine goals of the game in a 9-2 pummeling over the York Lions tonight in Toronto.

As is the case with any game that isn't broadcast, details are a bit scarce. Matthew Boucher paced the offense with a hat-trick while Patrick Watling (2), Kris Bennett, Stephen Anderson, Samuel Dove-McFalls, and Joe Gatenby also found the back of the net. Noah Carroll chipped in with two assists while Rylan Parenteau went the distance in goal to pick up the win.

UNB held period leads of 2-0 and 5-0. They were 0 for 2 on the power play, but killed off all five of York's man-advantages and scored a pair of shorthanded goals in the process.

The two are back at it tomorrow at 6PM AST.

Hockey Is Back

The 2019-2020 pre-season gets underway tonight with the defending national champion University of New Brunswick Reds in Toronto to face the York Lions. Game time is 7PM AST.

This will be the 4th meeting all-time between the two schools. UNB has won all three previous encounters - 9-1 at the Lakehead Bell Cup in 2003 and then 6-3 and 6-1 victories at the 2016 Pete Kelly Cup in Fredericton.

So far there has been no mention of the game being web-cast, although you may be able to follow along at the OUA website. Updates will most likely be available via the UNB Men's Hockey and York Lions Hockey Twitter accounts as well.

The two teams will play again tomorrow with puck drop scheduled for 6PM AST.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Lauzon Retires

Recently recruited defenseman Zachary Lauzon - a 2017 2nd round draft pick of the Pittsburgh Penguins - has been forced to retire from competitive hockey due to post-concussion syndrome.

After missing all of last season while with the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies, Lauzon participated in the Penguins development camp earlier in the summer. However, his symptoms returned in August while preparing for training camp with UNB. Although he was invited to play in Pittsburgh's prospect camp earlier this month, he did not suit up. He made the difficult decision to hang up his skates for good earlier this week.

While the loss of Lauzon hurts, leaving UNB with only 12 forwards and 7 defenceman to begin the season, you can never fault any player for prioritizing their health first, especially with what we now know about concussions. We wish Zach all the best in his future endeavours.

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Pre-Season Game Cancelled?

As a couple of astute observers over at the U Sports Hockey forum have pointed out, it appears that UNB's first pre-season game, scheduled for Monday, September 16th against Acadia in Truro, has been cancelled as it no longer appears on either team's schedule. The Axemen are now showing a game against Dalhousie the next day.

Ever since the AUS implemented the rule which caps the number of exhibition games teams are allowed to play per year, UNB have never played fewer than the maximum allowed of six. For this reason, it seems unlikely they will not schedule another exhibition game - either during pre-season or over Christmas - to bring them back up to a full slate again.

Webcast To Get "New" Voices This Season

The Reds will have a new team calling their home games in 2019-2020, but both names should be familiar to fans.

It was announced late last week that Michael Bourgeois and David Kilfoil will be taking over from Brad Janes and Perley Brewer, who both stepped down at the conclusion of last season, to serve as the team's play by play announer and colour commentator, respectively, on home webcasts this season. They will also be heard on UNB's campus radio station CHSR 97.9 FM.

Bourgeois had previously served as a regular fill-in on webcasts, as well as calling play-by-play for CHSR, over the last handful of years. Meanwhile, Kilfoil has been part of Reds radio broadcasts and webcasts for several years.

The duo will begin their era on October 11th when UNB will raise their 8th national championship banner to the Aitken Centre rafters before facing Moncton in the home opener.

Friday, September 6, 2019

MacDougall Issues Statement On Nobes' Passing

The hockey world was dealt a devastating blow yesterday when it was reported McGill head coach Kelly Nobes had tragically passed away at the age of 45. UNB head coach Gardiner MacDougall released the following statement earlier today expressing his condolences:

"It's a sad time for U SPORTS Hockey, the historic McGill men's hockey program, and mostly for Kelly's family. Kelly was an almost-annual member of the national championship club each March, and always brought well-coached and competitive teams to the U SPORTS Championship tournaments. Kelly was a staunch supporter of university hockey, as a coach and a former elite player. Our teams played against each other on a regular basis, and you always knew you'd face a well-prepared and highly-competitive squad. As a friend, we swapped drills and ideas over the years, and it was a pleasure to see him get much deserved recognition when Kelly was name U SPORTS Coach of the Year, right here in Fredericton, in 2018. On behalf of UNB and the Reds men's hockey program, I want to extend my sincere sympathies to the Nobes family, Kelly's friends, and the McGill community"

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Gilmour Joining Reds

A frustrating summer which saw the Reds miss out on a number of their top forward targets appears to have taken a turn for the better as former Detroit Red Wings 7th round draft pick Brady Gilmour has opted to forgo his final season of CHL eligibility to join the defending University Cup champions. Gilmour later confirmed the move himself.

It is rare to see a player join UNB as a 20 year old, but the Reds were in desperate need of a forward as they currently only have 11 on the roster - less than two weeks before their first exhibition game - and almost every notable CHL overager has either turned pro or committed elsewhere for the upcoming season.

In Gilmour they get a 5'10", 181 pound centre who scored 134 points (57 goals, 77 assists) and accumulated only 28 penalty minutes in 231 career OHL games, all with the Saginaw Spirit. He elevated his game in the postseason, putting up 21 points in 21 career playoff contests. His best season came in 2016-2017 when he contributed 26 goals and 21 assists while playing alongside current Reds forward Kris Bennett. He served as the Spirit's alternate captain each of last three years.

Gilmour is known as a "skilled, tenacious centre that competes every game and has a high hockey IQ....he's a very good skater...more of a pass-first player... always seems to be in the right place at the right time...sees the ice very well...strong on the draws and good defensivley."

Gilmour and his new teammates play their first exhibition game of the 2019-2020 season on Monday, September 16th in Truro, Nova Scotia against the Acadia Axemen.