Friday, October 11, 2019

Watling, Anderson Lead Reds In Opener

The University of New Brunswick Reds celebrated their 2019 University Cup victory one last time by raising their 8th National Championship banner to the Aitken Centre rafters and then went out and won their 31st straight home opener, shutting out the Universite de Moncton Aigles Bleus 4-0.

Before the game began the 2019-2020 Reds were introduced, along with representatives from each of UNB's previous seven championship teams. The last two members announced were 5th year forward Stephen Anderson, who brought out the AUS trophy, and 5th year defenceman - and team captain - Marcus McIvor, who skated out with the University Cup. After placing the trophies on a table at centre ice that had the AUS and U Sports championship banners draped over it, McIvor helped pull down a black curtain that unveiled the 2019 National Championship banner hanging from the rafters.

Once the ceremony was over it was business as usual. The two teams skated through a scoreless opening twenty minutes, despite UNB out-shooting Moncton 15-3.

The Reds finally broke through early in the 2nd period while shorthanded. Tristan Pomerleau worked the puck up to Tyler Boland, who was joined by Patrick Watling on a two-on-one break. Boland patiently waited for the defender to commit to going down before sending a saucer pass over to Watling, who one-timed the puck past reigning U Sports rookie of the year Etienne Montpetit. It would be the only goal of the period as UNB took a a slim 1-0 lead into the final frame. Shots in the period were 11-3 for the Reds.

UNB got some breathing room in the early parts of the 3rd period, connecting for a pair of goals. At 3:53 Watling got his second of the night on an almost carbon-copy of his first goal, only it was Alexandre Goulet finding him on the two-on-one rush. Matthew Boucher also picked up an assist on the goal. Less than two minutes later it was Stephen Anderson (Watling, Gatenby) picking up a loose puck during a scramble in the slot and snapping it in, extending the lead to 3-0 at 5:32. Anderson added another at 13:26, joining Kris Bennett's goal last weekend against Boston College as an early contender for goal of the year. The PEI product out-muscled three defenders just inside the Aigles Bleus blue-line to go in all alone on Montpetit, turning the netminder inside out with a backhand-to-forehand deke to make it 4-0. The highlight reel goal would prove to be the final one of the night as UNB out-shot Moncton 10-6 in the period.

- The Reds were playing with a short bench tonight. Mark Rassell was serving a one game suspension stemming from an ejection late in last Saturday's game against Acadia. Mark Simpson was not originally listed as a scratch, but didn't play as he continues to nurse an injury.

- Moncton was also playing shorthanded as they only had 16 skaters dressed. Justin Guenette is serving a four game suspension for an incident last weekend against St. FX.

- UNB out-shot Moncton 36-12 on the night.

- Neither team was particularly great on the power play, going scoreless on five opportunities each.

- Rylan Parenteau picked up his 6th career shut-out. His five shut-outs in league play only trail Travis Fullerton (14), Reg Bourcier (7), and Alex Dubeau (6) in UNB history.

- The Reds won 35 out of 59 face-offs. Alexandre Goulet (13 out of 18) and Samuel Dove-McFalls (10 out of 16) led the way.

- Tristan Pomerleau was +4 on the night.

- Kris Bennett is a newly appointed alternate captain this season.

- Attendance was 2766, a solid number considering it was a Friday heading into a long weekend.

- UNB unveiled new white jerseys for the game, featuring black shoulders and black numbers, a red nameplate on the back, and a New Brunswick flag on the left shoulder. They are a definite step up from last season's look.

- Patrick Watling had one goal and three assists in 14 games last year. Playing on the top line alongside Tyler Boland and Stephen Anderson so far this year, the 5th year forward already has two goals and three assists in three games. He was undoubtedly the best player on the ice tonight for either team, creating a number of chances throughout the game.

- The Reds have now won 16 straight home games versus Moncton.

- UNB hasn't dropped a home opener since a 6-5 overtime loss to Saint Mary's on November 5th, 1988.

- In the only other AUS game tonight it was Acadia going on the road and beating Dalhousie 4-1.

- The Reds are back at it tomorrow night with a game in Charlottetown against the UPEI Panthers. Game time is 7PM and it can be viewed at AUStv.ca.