Saturday, January 25, 2020

Winning Streak Hits Double Digits

If last weekend's thrilling shootout victory over the Acadia Axemen was a showcase for U Sports hockey, tonight's 6-2 win over the rival St. FX X-Men in the 28th annual Mark Jeffrey Memorial Game was quite the opposite. The game featured a rash of whistles and stoppages thanks to 31 penalties, 108 penalty minutes, and four fights - most of which game late in the game with the outcome no longer in doubt. Nonetheless, the University of New Brunswick Reds extended their winning streak to ten games and strengthened their grip on 1st place in the conference, moving to 22-4-0 on the season and seven points ahead of the 2nd place Axemen with four games remaining in the regular season.

The Reds got on the board 6:19 into the contest when Brady Gilmour (Bennett, Murphy) elected to keep the puck on a short 2-on-1 break, cut across the crease, and slipped a backhanded shot along the ice between Joseph Raaymakers legs. As the period moved along, UNB began to take over the game. They were finally rewarded with 20 seconds left in the period when Stephen Anderson forced a turnover in the X-Men zone, skated the puck down to the goal-line, put on the brakes to turn away from a defender, and found Tyler Boland at the bottom of the left face-off circle, who proceeded to put a dart into the top right corner. The Reds took the 2-0 lead into the intermission after out-shooting the X-Men 18-6.

Like last night, the 2nd period proved to be UNB's best of the game as they fired 23 shots on net to only eight for the X-Men. Four of those shots found the back of the goal. The first four goals of the period all came on the power play with Alexandre Goulet (Rassell, Boucher) depositing his own rebound in close at 7:47 and Tyler Boland (Anderson, Bennett) wristing a shot past a down and out Raaymakers at 11:09 to double the Reds lead. After Regan Spears put a shot just under the cross-bar to cut the deficit to 4-1 at 13:00, Matthew Boucher (Rassell, Gilmour) hammered in a nice cross-ice, backhanded feed from Mark Rassell at the back-door to restore the four goal lead 69 seconds later. Matt Murphy (Rassell, Dove-McFalls) cleaned up some garbage during a goal-mouth scramble at 18:11 to push the lead to 6-1. Although the X-Men had a 5-on-3 power play for the final 1:15 of the period, the score would remain 6-1 after 40 minutes.

The 3rd period was wide open as each team had 15 shots on goal, but the only goal came off the stick of William Bower, who scored on the PP with only 11 seconds remaining in the game. This came after a big dust-up at at 19:16 that saw Connor Hall and Lane Cormier as well as Alexandre Goulet and Anthony Difruscia square off. Although it appeared Hall was actively trying not to engage in a fight (and didn’t actually throw any punches), knowing the potential consequences, all four players were given five minute majors and game misconducts, which will no doubt affect each player's status games this upcoming week.

- UNB went with the same line-up as last night as Mark Simpson, Marcus McIvor, Noah Carroll, and Dylan Seitz were all scratched.

- Shots in the game were 56-29 for UNB. On the bright side for the X-Men, this represents their highest shot total in their last 13 games against the Reds.

- Rylan Parenteau continued his recent run of strong play, making 27 saves for his 10th win of the year. He has allowed only five goals in his last four starts.

- The Reds won 46 out of 81 face-offs in the game. Samuel Dove-McFalls had the best night, per usual, with 16 wins on 27 draws.

- UNB went 3 for 8 on the power play while St. FX was 2 for 10.

- Boland, Murphy, and Parenteau were the game's three stars.

- Attendance was 2218.

- Prior to the game, forward Mark Simpson was presented with the Mark Jeffrey Memorial Scholarship.

- With both captain Marcus McIvor and alternate captain Mark Simpson out, Patrick Watling wore an ‘A’ this weekend.

- The Reds are now 17-1-1 in the last 19 Mark Jeffrey Memorial games.

- UNB won four out of the five games between the two teams this season, out-scoring St. FX 28-11 in those games. The Reds have scored 5+ goals in 8 of their last 9 games against the X-Men.

- Elsewhere around the conference tonight, it was the Moncton Aigles Bleus routing the Dalhousie Tigers 6-1 on home-ice and the Saint Mary's Huskies getting a big 5-4 overtime victory in Charlottetown against the UPEI Panthers.

- The Reds are on the road next weekend for two tough games. They face the Acadia Axemen on Friday night before heading to Halifax to face Saint Mary's the next evening. Both games are slated for a 7PM start.