Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Reds Stave Off Elimination

There will be one final game played at the Aitken Centre this season.

With their backs to the wall, Samuel Harvey stopped all 36 shots he faced and the offense scored twice in each period as the University of New Brunswick Reds silenced a sell-out crowd in Wolfville with a 6-0 victory over the Acadia Axemen tonight in game two of the AUS Final. The championship will now come down to game three, which takes place on Friday night back in Fredericton.

- The Reds did exactly what they needed to do in the 1st period by scoring early in the game and then adding another before the end of the frame to take the energy out of the building. Samuel Dove McFalls (Watling, Anderson)0 opened the scoring at the 3:52 mark when Patrick Watling drove to the net and got pushed into Logan Flodell. The puck popped out into the slot and Dove-McFalls found the empty net before Flodell could get back to his feet. UNB would extend the lead at 12:28. Moments after failing once again to score with an extended two man advantage - 1:57 this time - Mark Rassell (Boucher, Murphy) jumped on a rebound in front and swept it under Flodell. While the goal was technically an even strength goal, neither penalized player had gotten back into the play yet. The Reds would take the 2-0 lead into the dressing room after out-shooting Acadia 13-11 in the period.

- The 2nd period was controlled basically from start to finish by Acadia and they held a 16-6 shot advantage over the twenty minutes. However, Samuel Harvey and the Reds penalty killers - who had to kill a 1:57 two man disadvantage of their own - were huge in keeping the buzzing Axemen off the board. To make matters worse for Acadia, despite their limited chances the Reds were able to score twice more, with both goals the result of breaks they couldn't take advantage of on Monday. At 7:12 Stephen Anderson forced an Axemen defender to make an ill-advised pass right to Patrick Watling in front of the net. Watling worked the puck from his left to right before tucking the puck around Flodell's left leg. Then, at 13:15, Kris Bennett's hard dump-in into the left corner came off the boards and directly to Anderson. His shot was stopped, but the rebound found the stick of a charging Tyler Boland and the AUS scoring champion was able to get just enough of the puck to re-direct it in.

- The Reds power play finally came to life in the 3rd period, accounting for both goals. At 10:16 Matt Murphy (Gatenby, Anderson) picked the far top corner to make it 5-0 and then Alexandre Goulet hammered home a Oliver Cooper pass at 18:41 to cap the scoring on the night. Shots in the period were 13-9 for UNB.

- UNB made one line-up change as James McEwan dressed in place of Ben Hawerchuk.

- Shots in the game were 36-32 for Acadia. It is the first time all year the Reds have been out-shot and the first time since October 19th, 2018 they were out-shot by an AUS team, a span of 66 games.

- As mentioned, Samuel Harvey was an absolute rock in net tonight, preventing the Axemen from getting any momentum with numerous clutch stops.

- The Axemen won 37 out of 70 face-offs. Tyler Boland (12 out of 17) had the best night of anyone on UNB.

- While UNB's power play got off the schneid, scoring on their last two opportunities to finish 2 for 5, the Axemen continue to struggle with the man advantage, going 0 for 7 on the night.  They are now 0 for 13 in the series.

- Harvey, Cristiano Digiacinto, and Murphy were the game's three stars.

- A sell-out crowd of 2362 was on hand.

- Hockey is a funny game. The Reds out-shoot the Axemen 53-19 in game one and lose and then get out-shot 36-32 and win. The difference being tonight they had the locked in goaltender, got some breaks and puck luck, and won the special teams battle.

- UNB will be playing in their first winner-take-all AUS playoff game since defeating St. FX 6-3 in game five of the 2015 semi-finals.

- It will be their first time playing a winner-take-all game in the AUS Final since 2013. They defeated Saint Mary's 2-0 in game three that season to claim their 3rd straight AUS title.

- In the consolation series, Saint Mary’s clinched their berth at the University Cup with a 4-3 triple overtime win in Moncton. It gives the Huskies a two game sweep over the Aigles Bleus.

- Game three goes Friday night at 7PM. Get your tickets early as it should be close to a sell-out. If you can't make it to the AUC, watch live at AUStv.ca.