Saturday, February 8, 2020

Reds Turn It On In Finale

The University of New Brunswick Reds shook off a sluggish start, exploding for seven unanswered goals over the final forty minutes in an 8-2 victory tonight over the Université de Moncton Aigles Bleus in the final regular season game for each team. UNB concludes the season with a 26-4-0 record while Moncton ends up in 4th place with a 13-11-6 record.

The Aigles Bleus had been off since Wednesday and UNB had played the night before and it showed in the early going. It was a lackluster opening period for the Reds as they fell behind 2-1 and were out-played. Gabriel Vanier opened the scoring 5:53 into the game after he rushed the puck down the right side and crashed the crease. The puck bounced up and over Rylan Parenteau on the ensuing scramble to give the Aigles Bleus the early 1-0 lead. The Reds got that one back on the power play at 11:38. Kris Bennett (Boland, Gatenby) got position in front of Moncton goalie Alexi Thibaudeau and managed to somehow sneak the puck in along the ice. The game would remain tied until the final minute when Moncton would answer with a power play goal of their own. A failed clearing attempt proved costly as the puck made its way to Maxime St-Cyr and the sniper made no mistake, putting the puck into the top right corner with 16 seconds remaining in the period. To make matters worse, the Reds were assessed a penalty at the end of the period, giving the Aigles Bleus a power play to open the 2nd period. Shots over the opening twenty minutes were 12-7 in favour of Moncton.

Whatever was said in the dressing room between periods not only seemed to work, but it paid immediate dividends. UNB forced an early Moncton penalty, which wiped out their power play, and then went to work on offense, blitzing the Aigles Bleus with three goals in the first 4:55 to seize control of the game. Tyler Boland (Bennett, Gatenby) tied the game 2-2 with a power play goal at 2:48 when he got in behind the defence, had his initial shot stopped, but was able to dig the rebound off of Thibaudeau's right pad and jam the puck in. Brady Gilmour (Dove-McFalls, McIvor) then gave the Reds their first lead of the night at the four minute mark when his wrist shot from the left face-off circle found the far corner. The onslaught was capped off 55 seconds later by Mark Simpson (Bennett, Boucher), who found the back of the net with a wrist shot from the slot. The Reds weren't done in the period quite yet though as Gilmour (Boucher, Goulet) snuck a shot through short side for his second of the night. The power play goal came at 15:00. UNB out-shot Moncton 14-5 in the period.

The Reds added three more goals in the 3rd period. The power play got another one at 2:57 when Bennett (Watling, Boland) skated into a drop-pass at the top of the left face-off circle and blasted a slap shot in. The penalty killers went to work next as Simpson (Watling) used his stick to knock the puck down in the neutral zone, which sprung him on a breakaway. The 4th year centre snapped the puck past Thibaudeau's glove and into the top right corner for the shorthanded tally at 4:38. Finally, Alexandre Goulet (Gilmour, Rassell) put a bow on the regular season with a re-direction at the lip of the crease with eight seconds remaining to make it 8-2. The shots were 12-4 for UNB in the period.

- The Reds went with the same line-up as Friday night as Noah Carroll, Benjamin Gagne, James McEwan, and Dylan Seitz all sat.

- UNB out-shot Moncton 33-21 on the night.

- The Reds were 4 for 7 on the power play. Moncton converted once on five chances.

- The Aigles Bleus held a slight 35-34 advantage in the face-off circle. Tyler Boland (9 out of 11) had the best night among Reds players. UNB only lost the face-off battle in four games this season and two of those were versus Moncton.

- Bennett was named the player of the game after putting up four points.

- Rylan Parenteau picked up his 12th win of the season in goal. He finishes the season with a 12-2-0 record, 1.78 GAA (2nd in AUS), and 0.909 save percentage (3rd). He is now 32-3-1 in his UNB career.

- Attendance was 780.

- UNB went 5-0-0 against Moncton this year (out-scoring the Aigles Bleus 27-8) and are now 33-1-1 in their last 35 meetings.

- Tyler Boland's three points give him 48 on the season (20 goals, 28 assists). Not only does he finish the season as the AUS scoring champion, but he also led the nation in scoring.

- The Reds end the season on a 14 game winning streak, matching the 2015-2016 team that also won their final 14 regular season games. UNB was swept in the AUS Final that year, but the season still turned out alright.

- UNB finishes the regular season with an absurd +103 goal differential on the strength of 160 goals scored and only 57 surrendered. This tops their previous high of +99 set in the 1997-1998 season, although that was only a 28 game schedule.

- UNB went 12-3-0 on the road this season with a goal differential of 76-33.

- The Reds 26 regular season wins are tied with the 2007-2008 team (26-1-1) for their second most ever. Only the 2009-2010 team that went 27-1-0 won more.

- The final night of the season saw two other games that had no bearing on the standings or play-off picture. St. FX picked up a 5-2 home win over Acadia and Dalhousie upset Saint Mary's 4-3 in overtime.

- The final standings look like this:

UNB: 26-4-0 = 52 points
ACA: 19-9-2 = 40
SMU: 17-12-1 = 35
UdeM: 13-11-6 = 32
St. FX: 12-13-5 = 29
UPEI: 10-15-5 = 25

- The schedule has yet to be announced for the best 2-of-3 quarter-final series' between Saint Mary's/UPEI and Moncton/St. FX. However, in years past it has primarily been a Wednesday-Friday-Sunday schedule.

- Next up for UNB is a first round play-off bye. All we know is that they will open the best 3-of-5 semi-final series with home games on Thursday, February 20th and Friday, February 21st against the lowest remaining seed.