Saturday, November 20, 2021

3rd Period Barrage Lifts Reds

The #1 ranked University of New Brunswick Reds broke open a close game with four goals in the 3rd period to pull away from the rival St. FX X-Men in what was a chippy and intense 6-2 victory tonight at the AUC. The 12-1-0 Reds have now opened up a five point lead over the second place X-Men with a game in hand. 

The start couldn't have been any better for the Reds as they grabbed a 1-0 lead before much of the large crowd, who are required to show proof of vaccination at the door, even had a chance to get into the rink. Tyler Boland got ahold of the puck behind the goal and quickly fed Nicolas Guay out front, who wasted no time one timing it past Joseph Raaymakers. Connor Hall also picked up an assist on the goal, which came only 42 seconds into the game. UNB carried the momentum throughout the period, out-shooting the X-Men 13-5, but the game would head into the intermission tied as the AUS scoring leader Liam Hawel pounced on a turnover in front of the net and beat a screened Rylan Parenteau with a wrist shot. 

It appeared the Reds were playing with fire when they handed the X-Men's dangerous power play their third opportunity of the game just over a minute into the 2nd period. However, it was Austen Keating forcing a turnover in the corner of the offensive zone and then finding James Phelan, who put the puck off the far post and in for UNB's first shorthanded goal of the season. This was the only goal of a more evenly played period with the shots being 8-7 in favour of the Reds. 

UNB put the game out of reach in the first 8+ minutes of the 3rd period, connecting three times to turn a nail-biter into a laugher. At 3:24 Keating received a Connor Hall pass in front of the visitors bench, drew three defenders to him as he skated deep into X-Men territory, and then sent a pretty backhand pass back to Guay, who was all alone in the slot and had a wide open net that he didn't miss. Only 55 seconds later Mark Rassell (Gatenby, Dove-McFalls) - returning to the line-up after missing ten games - brought the puck out from behind the goal and used his long reach to slide it past Raaymakers for his first goal of the season . Tyler Boland (Guay, Phelan) capped the outburst with a power play goal at 8:16, just getting enough of his stick on the puck at the side of the net to get it over the goal line. The Reds would pile it on with another power play goal at 14:48 when Brady Gilmour (Dove-McFalls, Rassell) deposited the puck during a scramble in front of the net. The game had been physical and chippy from the opening puck drop and it finally boiled over at the 17:32 mark after Noah Carroll took exception to a hit by William Bower. The two started jawing at each other before dropping the gloves and engaging in one of the better fights you will see in the AUS with both combatants throwing some solid punches before being broken up by the refs. Meanwhile, some of the other players who were standing around during the fight started having some words. Connor Hall saw this and skated over and cross-checked a St. FX player, which led to more fireworks. After it was all said and done the Reds were down two men for a full two minutes. On the ensuing 5-on-3 power play Zack Trott scored to make it 6-2 at the 18:09 mark. UNB would kill off the other penalty and the rest of the game was played without incident. Shots in the period were 11-4 for the Reds.     

- UNB got the services of both Mark Rassell and Rylan Parenteau back tonight. Benjamin Gagne was the lone scratch while Tanner Somers was the back-up goalie with Griffen Outhouse still injured.

- Shots were 32-16 for the Reds.

- UNB was 2 for 5 on the power play. The X-Men went 1 for 8.

- The Reds won 38 out of 58 face-offs. Both Dove-McFalls (16 out of 23) and Phelan (14 out of 18) had stand-out nights.

- Guay was named the player of the game for a second straight time. Boland and Rassell were the other two stars.

- Brady Gilmour was shaken up late in the 1st period after losing his balance and going hard into the end boards back first. After laying on the ice momentarily he was able to get up and skate off under his own power.

- Attendance was a solid 2365.

- Carroll will have a suspension coming his way. He will get at least one game for the fighting major and will most likely get more as he was also assessed an instigating penalty.

- As previously mentioned, X-Men head coach Brad Peddle missed the game due to a one game suspension he was given after last weekend's game against UPEI. 

- This was St. FX's first game at the AUC since a 6-2 loss on January 25th, 2020 - a span of 665 days.

- In fact, things have not gone well for the X-Men in Fredericton in recent years. Since the beginning of the 2018-2019 season they are now 0-7-0  and have been outscored 47-12 at the Aitken Centre. They haven't held UNB below five goals in any of those games. 

- In other AUS action tonight it was Moncton picking up a much needed 5-3 home win over Dalhousie and Saint Mary's going on the road to defeat UPEI 4-1. 

- UNB is back at home tomorrow afternoon against the Dalhousie Tigers. Please note that game time is scheduled for 4PM.