Friday, January 24, 2020

Sophomores Step Up

On a night where their top line was held off the score-sheet, the University of New Brunswick Reds' second year stars supplied all of the offense in a 5-1 victory over the Dalhousie Tigers tonight at the Aitken Centre. UNB's 9th win in a row gives them a 21-4-0 record on the season, five points ahead of the Acadia Axemen with a game in hand.

Samuel Dove-McFalls (Boucher, Bennett) put the Reds on the board before much of the large crowd - many of whom were there for Southside/Oromocto elementary School night - were in their seats when he backhanded the puck past Connor Hicks just 43 seconds into the game. The Tigers replied at at 5:06 after Michael Dill redirected a point shot past Samuel Harvey to tie the game. However, shortly after the goal UNB was awarded consecutive power plays, the second of which they converted. Mark Rassell (Gilmour, Goulet) got the puck in tight and made a quick pivot from his backhand to his forehand and put the puck in the far side of the net. The goal came at 9:40 and gave the Reds a 2-1 lead, which they would hold for the remainder of the period. A late Dalhousie power play generated a number of shots and chances, but to no avail. Shots in the period ended up 12-10 for the Reds.

UNB began the 2nd period the same as the opening period - with a goal. Matthew Boucher (Dove-McFalls, Bennett) got the puck in a prime shooting area and picked the short side top corner to give the Reds a 3-1 lead 35 seconds into the frame. He would add his second, this one on the power play from Gilmour and Rassell, at 8:49 when he pounced on a loose puck in the crease. He was able to push the puck into the net, just before a Tigers defender shoved him into the goal. The power play then struck for a third time on the night in the dying seconds of the period. Boucher fed the puck to Olivier LeBlanc at the blue line and the defenceman's point shot was deflected in front by Rassell. The goal at 19:55 of the period concluded a dominant period for UNB as they increased their lead to 5-1 while out-shooting the Tigers 24-6.

Despite the Reds having two more power play opportunities in the 3rd period, there was no more scoring on the night. UNB held a 12-3 shot advantage over the final twenty minutes.

- Olivier LeBlanc was back in the line-up after missing five games. Marcus McIvor and Mark Simpson remained out while Noah Carroll and Dylan Seitz were scratched.

- Shots in the game were 48-19 for the Reds. It was a rare occurrence where UNB didn't pepper Tigers goalie Connor Hicks with 50+ shots.

- LeBlanc's return paid immediate dividends for the Reds power play. With the blue-liner back helping run the man advantage, UNB went 3 for 7 on the evening. The Tigers were scoreless on their only two chances.

- Samuel Harvey started his 3rd straight game in the Reds net and turned in another solid performance to pick up his 12th win of the season.

- Boucher's four point night earned him player of the game. Rassell and LeBlanc were the other two stars.

- The Reds won 45 out of 68 face-offs. Dove-McFalls (14 out of 18) and Alexandre Goulet (13 out of 18) shouldered most of the load.

- Patrick Watling left the game in the 3rd period and never returned after being on the receiving end of a high hit, which was penalized.

- UNB swept the season series from the Tigers, out-scoring Dalhousie 30-6 in the five games.

- UNB's current nine game winning streak is their longest regular season run since winning their last nine games of the 2016/17 season.

- In other AUS action tonight, the Acadia Axemen recovered from blowing a 5-1 lead to pick up an 8-5 road win over the UPEI Panthers. The win snapped the Axemen's four game losing streak. In Moncton, the St. FX X-Men jumped out to a 2-0 lead 94 seconds into the game and doubled the Aigles Bleus 4-2.

- The Reds are back at the AUC tomorrow night when they host the St. FX X-Men in the 28th annual Mark Jeffrey Memorial Game. Game time is 7PM.