Friday, October 18, 2019

Big 1st Period Propels Reds

The University of New Brunswick Reds scored four times in a dominant opening period on their way to a 6-3 victory over their rival St. FX X-Men before a large crowd tonight at the AUC. UNB improves to 4-1-0 on the season while the X-Men suffer their first loss in regulation, dropping to 3-1-1.

The Reds got off to a quick start, taking advantage of a couple of fortunate bounces to build a 2-0 lead just over five minutes into the game. Kris Bennett got the scoring started at 3:12 when Joe Gatenby skied the puck from his own end, over the X-Men defencemen, and had it land in the slot. Instead of the puck hitting the ice and rolling harmlessly toward the net, it had some english on it and spun back towards the blue line where Bennett almost overskated it, but was able to corral it and go in all alone on Joseph Raaymakers, beating the freshman goalie with a quick deke to make it 1-0. The lead was extended at 5:23 thanks to another fortuitous bounce after Matt Murphy (LeBlanc) let a wrist shot go from along the boards just inside the blue line. Raaymakers attempted to blocker the puck into the corner, but instead he sent it straight up in the air, eventually landing behind him in his crease and rolling into the net. Murphy was also involved in UNB's third goal at 13:45. Oliver Cooper picked up the rebound off of a Murphy point shot and tried a wrap around. While his shot was stopped, Raaymakers wasn't able to hold the post with his left leg and James McEwan pounced on the loose puck, jamming it in. Less than a minute later St. FX did what they tend to do when getting blown out, resorting to physical play and cheap shots. In this case it was Lane Cormier hitting Patrick Watling late and from behind in front of the UNB bench. It was the beginning of a rough night for Watling, who was also the victim of a hit to the head later in the game. In the ensuing skirmish Reagan Spears lived up to his name, spearing Joe Gatenby and earning a four minute double minor penalty. The extended power play meant UNB had a golden chance to put the game away early, but it was St. FX getting on the board. Two X-Men forced a turnover at their own blue line, which sent Matthew Graham away on a shorthanded breakaway. Graham snapped a shot past Rylan Parenteau's blocker to cut the lead to 3-1 at 15:32. The momentum proved to be short-lived, however. Later in the power play some nice passing got the puck to Matthew Boucher (Rassell, Goulet) in the left face-off circle and he put the puck in the far corner at 17:31 to restore UNB's three goal lead. The Reds would take a 4-1 lead into the intermission, out-shooting the X-Men 19-3 in the process.

The 2nd period saw St. FX use a couple lucky bounces of their own to get back in the game. At 3:41, while on the power play, an uncovered Bryson Cianfrone had the puck ping-pong off of some traffic in the slot right to him at the left of the net. He didn't miss a wide open cage, cutting the lead to 4-2. UNB got that one back at 7:02 thanks to a full two minute 5-on-3 advantage. After failing on their first two attempts at setting up Alexandre Goulet for a one timer the third time proved to be the charm as Goulet (Boland, Anderson) ripped a shot from the bottom of the right face-off circle into the top corner. As is often the case, the X-Men would not go away and at 16:10 they once again made it a two goal game. The goal was similar to Murphy's in that the puck got knocked up into the air and came down near Parenteau's crease. A scramble ensued around the blue paint and it was Anthony Difruscia getting the last touch on the X-Men's third goal of the night, which once again cut the deficit to two. The shots in the period were 10-5 for UNB.

Although the X-Men did not generate much offense in the 3rd period - they were out-shot 9-2 - it wasn't until Matthew Boucher's second power play goal of the night at 13:38 that UNB finally got some breathing room. Boucher got the puck in almost the exact same spot as is first goal, but instead of going far side he put the puck off the near post and in to make it 6-3. An X-Men power play a few minutes later proved to be uneventful and the two teams skated out the UNB victory without any further incidents.

- Mark Simpson was back in the line-up. Benjamin Gagne was the lone scratch.

- The X-Men were missing their two best rookies as both Jeremiah Addison and and Declan Smith were out.

- Shots in the game were 38-10.

- Although two of the goals he allowed were the result of some unfortunate puck luck, Rylan Parenteau seemed to be fighting the puck most of the game. Nonetheless, he improves to 3-0-0 om the young season.

- On the other hand, Joseph Raaymakers - who was rumoured to be a target of UNB's this past summer - settled down nicely after the rough 1st period. The Reds had a number of great chances that he was able to turn aside to keep his team in it.

- UNB was 3 for 7 on the power play, but also gave up a shorthanded goal. The X-Men were 1 for 5.

- The Reds won 39 out of 66 face-offs with Boland (11 of 17) and Samuel Dove-McFalls (9 of 12) leading the way on this night.

- The box score can be found here, but it is full of errors. For example, it has St. FX scoring to tie the game 1-1. In reality they were already down 3-0 when they scored. Hopefully it gets updated/fixed shortly.

- Attendance was 3074, which is exceptional for a game this early in the season. For comparison, they drew 2435 in their second home game last season.

- UNB have out-scored St. FX 35-8 in winning the last five meetings between the two.

- St. FX hasn't had more than 20 shots on goal in any of their last nine games against UNB. They have averaged only 15.1 shots per game in that span.

- It was the second straight game where the Reds blitzed the X-Men right out of the gate. In last year's national semi-final UNB had a 4-0 lead and out-shot St. FX 24-8 in the opening period.

- Elsewhere around the league tonight, Nick Welsh had six assists in Saint Mary's 8-2 road win over the UPEI Panthers and Dalhousie scored a 3-2 overtime decision in Moncton against the Aigles Bleus.

- The Reds are back on home ice tomorrow night when they host the Dalhousie Tigers in the annual Rod Pike Memorial Game. Puck drop is 7PM.