Saturday, November 23, 2019

X-Men No Match For Big Red Machine

It's hard to imagine a weekend going much better for the University of New Brunswick Reds. A night after thumping Dalhousie 10-0, they completely overmatched the St. FX X-Men. The relentless Reds out-manned, out-worked, and out-skilled their rivals in an 8-1 romp tonight at the AUC. UNB moves to 12-3-0 at the halfway mark of the regular season, keeping pace with the 12-4-0 Acadia Axmen atop the conference.

The best part of the game for the X-Men was the first 44 seconds as that was all it look for Stephen Anderson to get UNB off and running. Alexandre Goulet got the puck in the corner after a Mark Simpson face-off win, circled behind the net, and fed Anderson in front who flipped a backhander past Joseph Raaymakers. Much like last night UNB built an insurmountable 1st period lead, adding two more goals before the horn sounded. At 12:05 Goulet (Boland, LeBlanc) got the puck all alone in the slot for a one-timer that hit the post and went in. The goal came on the back half of a 5-on-3 power play and gave UNB a 2-0 lead. Just 82 seconds later Simpson (Murphy) got the puck just inside the blue line, took a few strides, and put a shot into the top right corner. Just like that the rout was on. The Reds out-shot the X-Men 21-6 in an impressive opening period.

UNB didn't take their foot off the gas in the 2nd period as they out-shot St. FX 21-4 and pumped in four more goals. Patrick Watling's (LeBlanc, Boland) unleashed a seeing-eye shot from the boards near the blue-line that just caught the inside of the far post to make it 4-0 at 3:47 and then he added another - his 7th of the season - 63 seconds later, gaining positioning on the defenceman and re-directing a nice Tyler Boland pass past the out-stretched right leg of Raaymakers. This spelled the end of Raaymakers night after giving up five goals on 30 shots. He was also left out to dry on multiple other occasions as he did his best to keep his team in the game. Blade Mann-Dixon entered the game and he did his part to hold the fort, making a number of big saves. The X-Men had an opportunity to get on the board when Matthew Graham was hauled down on a breakaway, giving him a penalty shot at 10:43. However, Samuel Harvey stood tall in the UNB and blockered Graham's wrist shot away. Things went from bad to worse for St. FX when they Bailey Webster was assessed a delay of game penalty at 9:19. With a 6-0 lead this afforded the coaching staff a chance to give some players who don't usually get power play time a chance with the man advantage and they took advantage when James McEwan (Gagne, Dove-McFalls) leaned into a one-timer in the high slot, beating Mann-Dixon on his glove side at 12:32. The Reds would head into the intermission with a 7-0 lead.

With the game no longer in doubt the Reds appeared to ease off a bit in the 3rd, out-shooting the X-Men 11-4. Although St. FX was able to break Harvey's shut-out bid at 9:41 when Mark Tremaine camped out in front of the net and was able to tip in a long shot, UNB answered with a power play goal at 15:26 to restore their seven goal cushion. Oliver Cooper (Rassell, Dove-McFalls) did some good, hard, dirty work in front of the net and was rewarded when he was able to swipe the puck into a waning net as Mann-Dixon was well out of position. That would cap the scoring in what was an all around dominating performance from the Reds.

- UNB went with the same line-up as last night with Benjamin Gagne playing in place of Noah Carroll.

- Shots in the game were 53-14. UNB out-shot their opposition 111-25 on the weekend, registering 20+ shots on goal in four out of the six periods they played.

 - Samuel Harvey had to make a couple tough saves among the 13 shots he turned aside. He is now 4-1-0 with a 1.21 GAA and 0.933 save percentage in his last five starts.

- As mentioned, both Raaymakers and Mann-Dixon made a number of tough saves as well. Although the score was 8-1, the game wasn't as close as the final score would indicate.

- UNB won 51 out of 87 face-offs. Mark Simpson had a huge night in the dot, winning 21 out of 27 draws.

- The Reds went 3 for 9 on the power play. St. FX was shut out on four opportunities.

- The X-Men were missing a number of regulars, forcing them to play with only 16 skaters.

- Attendance was 2088.

- Anderson’s second two goal game of the weekend earned him player of the game honours.

- Since suffering a heartbreaking 5-4 overtime loss to St. FX in the 2018 University Cup semi-finals, UNB has gone 5-0 against the X-Men at the Aitken Centre. They have out-scored them 35-8 in the process.

- UNB out-scored Dalhousie and St. FX by a combined 18-1 count this weekend. Their +17 goal differential is the most lopsided they have had in consecutive games since 2003/2004 when they beat Moncton 11-1 and then York 9-1.

- UNB entered the weekend having scored 4.38 goals per game (57 goals in 13 games) so far this season, well below last season's average of five goals per game. After this weekend they have now scored 75 goals in 15 games, exactly five per game.

- In other AUS action tonight, Acadia scored three times in the 3rd period to defeat UPEI 3-1 in Wolfville and Moncton continued their recent hot streak, blowing out Dalhousie 7-2 on home ice.

- After six straight home games, the Reds are on the road next weekend to finish up the first half of the season. They are in Wolfville on Friday night for a first place showdown against the Acadia Axemen and then head to Halifax the next evening for a date with the Saint Mary's Huskies. Game time is 7PM for both contests.

- UNB are back on home ice on Sunday, December 29th when they host the OUA's Windsor Lancers at 4PM in the annual Pete Kelly Cup.