Saturday, October 19, 2019

Reds Survive Scare

The visiting Dalhousie Tigers played the defending National Champion University of New Brunswick Reds even through 65 minutes of play, but the home side ultimately prevailed with a 4-3 shootout victory tonight at the Aitken Centre. UNB moves to 5-1-0 after their first trip through the league this season. The Tigers fall to 2-4-2, picking up an important point in a game they weren't expected to.

The two teams traded goals in each of the three periods with UNB holding three one goal leads only to see Dalhousie tie it up each time. Mark Simpson (McIvor, Goulet) opened the scoring at 9:27 when he got the puck in the right face-off circle with his back to the net, spun around, and beat Connor Hicks on the near side. The Tigers responded at 16:32 with a lucky one. Dillon Boucher's shot was kicked out by Samuel Harvey, but the puck hit the skates of the UNB defenceman coming back towards the net and deflected in. The score would remain 1-1 after twenty minutes of playw ith teh Reds holding a 14-7 advantage in shots.

UNB regained the lead at 6:25 of the 2nd period. Alexandre Goulet dug the puck out from behind the Tigers goal and made a short pass to Mark Rassell at the side of the net. Rassell managed to roof the puck from a sharp angle in tight to make it 2-1. Tristan Pomerleau picked up the other assist on the goal. Dalhousie evened the game once again, this time with a power play goal at 15:42. After UNB had a good chance shorthanded, the Tigers turned the puck back up the ice with Andrew Shewfelt finishing off a nice rush to knot the game at 2, which is how things would stay for the remainder of the period. Shots in the period were 16-7 for the Reds.

Dalhousie had an incredible chance to take the lead in the 3rd period when they picked off an errant clearing pass up the middle of the Reds zone, giving them a 2-on-0 down low. Somehow Harvey kept the puck out with a couple of big stops in quick succession. UNB would grab their third lead of the game with a power play strike at 14:04. After Olivier LeBlanc's point shot went wide Kris Bennett tried to jam the puck in at the side of the net. Hicke denied him, but Patrick Watling was right there to jump on a loose puck at the lip of the crease, giving UNB a 3-2 lead. Clinging on to the lead the Reds would surrender the tying goal with 47 seconds left in regulation and Hicks on the bench for an extra attacker. Shewfelt was all alone in front of the net when he received a pass out of the corner and made no mistake in putting it off the iron and in for his second of the night, this one tying the game 3-3. Shots favoured UNB 13-4 in the period.

The 3-on-3 overtime period was dominated by the Reds, who out-shot the Tigers 10-2 and had numerous glorious chances to end the game over the five minutes. However, Hicks held the fort to send the game to a shootout. In the shootout Goulet was up first and he used his patented move - coming in wide, cutting across the top of the crease, and patiently waiting until the goalie goes down before putting the puck under the cross bar - to get UNB on the board. After Connor Welsh came up empty on the Tigers first attempt Matthew Boucher put the pressure on when he beat Hicks with a quick snap shot. Needing a goal to stay alive Aiden Jamieson's deke attempt was easily snuffed out by Harvey to give UNB a tougher-than-expected 4-3 win.

- UNB went with the same line-up as last night as Benjamin Gagne was the lone scratch.

- Shots in the game were 53-20 for the Reds.

- UNB was 1 for 6 on the power play. Dalhousie was 1 for 5.

- The Reds dominated the face-off dot, winning 46 out of 77 face-offs. Mark Simpson had a big night, going 19 out of 25.

- Attendance was 1984.

- The game's three stars were 1) Alexandre Goulet 2) Connor Hicks 3) Matthew Boucher.

- Before the game Kris Bennett was awarded the annual Rod Pike Memorial Scholarship, which is given to the player "who has special leadership abilities, a high compete level, and goes the extra mile for the team and his teammates."

- In his last four games against UNB, Hicks has faced a whopping 231 shots. He has turned aside 219 of them for a sparkling 0.948 save percentage.

- This is UNB's 34th straight win over Dalhousie. However, this is only the third game in that span to go beyond regulation.

- It is their 27th consecutive victory over the Tigers at the AUC.

- In other AUS action tonight, the first place Acadia Axemen maintained their two point lead over UNB (albeit having played one extra game) with a 4-3 home victory over the UPEI Panthers. Meanwhile, in Moncton the Aigles Bleus handed the St. FX X-Men their second loss of the weekend with a 6-3 decision.

- The Reds are on the road next weekend for rematches against this weekend's opponents. They are in Antigonish on Friday night to face St. FX and then travel to Halifax to take on Dalhousie the next evening. Game time for both is slated for 7PM.