Friday, January 17, 2020

Reds Down Axemen In Thriller

Tonight's game at the AUC between two of the top teams in the country certainly lived up to the hype as the #1 ranked University of New Brunswick Reds emerged with a 2-1 shootout victory over the #6 Acadia Axemen in a highly entertaining affair that featured a playoff-like atmosphere. UNB improves to 19-4-0 with their 7th win in a row, moving them three points clear of the 17-5-1 Axemen.

The Reds were buzzing in the early going, but a couple key saves by Axemen goalie Logan Flodell kept the game scoreless. After weathering the early storm, Acadia opened the scoring at 4:14 when Jordy Stallard shoveled the puck from just outside the crease and past Samuel Harvey. It was the first time in five games the Reds surrendered the first goal of the game. The Axemen had a chance to build on their lead halfway through the period when they were awarded the first power play of the night, however it was UNB knotting the game. After some aggressive forechecking by Oliver Cooper the puck came back to Joe Gatenby. His long shot was stopped but he tracked down his own rebound and fed it to Samuel Dove-McFalls, who got in behind a defender and slid the puck between the post and Flodell's left leg. The shorthanded marker came at 11:04 and would prove to be the last goal either team would score until the shootout.

After UNB out-shot Acadia 16-7 in the opening period the two teams were pretty evenly matched the rest of the way with the Reds holding a slight 23-19 advantage. Each team had their opportunities over the next 45 minutes, perhaps none bigger than the Axemen receiving a power play with 1:14 remaining in the 3-on-3 overtime period after UNB took a too many men on ice penalty. The penalty killers stepped up with some big blocks and Harvey made the save of the game when he slid to his right to deny what looked a sure goal with a right pad save, sending the game to a shootout.

In the shootout Alexandre Goulet was up first for the Reds. He was able get Flodell down, but was unable to lift the puck over the netminder's right pad as his patented move failed for possibly the first time in his tenure at UNB. Stephen Harper gave Acadia a 1-0 lead when his snap shot beat Harvey only to have Tyler Boland reply with shot through Flodell's five-hole. Mason McCarthy answered back for the Axemen. With UNB's back to the wall the next four outcomes all went their way. First, Matthew Boucher kept the game alive, beating Flodell with a well placed wrist shot just inside the right post and then, needing a goal to win, Acadia's Jordy Stallard was denied by Harvey. Kris Bennett was up next for UNB and he used Goulet's strategy, out-waiting Flodell to get him down before putting the puck in the vacated upper half of the net. With the pressure now shifted to Acadia, Harvey once again came up big, turning aside Maurizio Colella to give the Reds the dramatic victory.

- Mark Simpson was out of the line-up tonight as James McEwan drew in. Olivier LeBlanc, Benjamin Gagne, and Dylan Seitz all remained sidelined.

- With LeBlanc already out, the defence was stretched even thinner when Marcus McIvor left the game in the 1st period and never returned. The remaining five 'D' - Murphy, Gatenby, Hall, Pomerleau, and Carroll - all stepped up in a huge way, logging big minutes and keeping the Axemen off the scoreboard for the last 60+ minutes of the game. 

- Shots in the game were 39-26 for UNB.

- Both teams went scoreless on four power play opportunities.

- Even without Simpson, the Reds dominated the face-off circle as they won 40 out of 59 draws. Tyler Boland (13 out of 15) had the best night while Dove-McFalls (11 out of 17) and Goulet (9 out of 15) also had strong showings.

- Kris Bennett was named the player of the game. Dove-McFalls and Harvey were named 2nd and 3rd stars, respectively.

- Harvey was rock solid all night in improving to 10-2-0 on the season with a 1.99 GAA and 0.905 save percentage. He avenged a 6-4 loss at the hands of the Axemen in his season debut back on September 28th.

- Attendance was 2885.

- There was only one other game in the AUS tonight and it saw the Saint Mary's Huskies go on the road and defeat the Moncton Aigles Bleus 3-2 in overtime. The scheduled Dalhousie at UPEI game was postponed due to high winds restricting travel on the Confederation Bridge.

- It is a quick turnaround for the Reds as they are back on the ice at 4PM tomorrow afternoon to face the Huskies.