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.