Saturday, November 27, 2021

Gutsy Win Caps Perfect Weekend

An already-undermanned University of New Brunswick Reds squad saw two more of their key players sustain injuries and not return, yet they endured for a gritty, hard-earned 4-1 victory over the Saint Mary's Huskies tonight in Halifax. UNB's 8th consecutive victory pushes their record to 15-1-0 on the season, seven points clear of the idle St. FX X-Men.

It was a costly 1st period for the Reds as they lost both James Phelan and Brady Gilmour to potentially serious injuries within 18 seconds of one another. After not being able to convert on a four minute high sticking penalty given to the Huskies early in the game, Dawson Theede was assessed a five minute major at 12:44 for a hard check on Phelan into the boards/glass that left the Reds player crumpled on the ice. Phelan was eventually able to get to his feet under his own power and was escorted off the ice with some help. Only 18 seconds into the lengthy man advantage the Reds were dealt another blow when Brady Gilmour got tangled up with a defender and appeared to get his left leg twisted under him as he fell to the ice. He attempted to get up but immediately collapsed to the ice in obvious discomfort. After laying on the ice for a couple of minutes he was helped off the ice, but clearly was avoiding putting any weight on his leg. The period was almost a complete disaster for the Reds when they failed to score on the major penalty, but only four seconds after it expired Joe Gatenby (Landry, Guay) took a cross-ice pass and one-timed a low shot back against the grain and into the far corner. The goal came at 17:48 and was the only marker of the period as UNB out-shot SMU 9-5.

The rest of the game's goals came in the middle period. Perhaps the turning point came in the early minutes when UNB was given a too many men on the ice penalty at 3:09. The Huskies came close to evening the score when they hit the post behind Rylan Parenteau, but with the power play winding down the Reds forced a turnover in the neutral zone and transitioned the puck up the ice to Samuel Dove-McFalls, who just came off the bench. The captain had a step on the defence and despite being hounded from behind, he was able to to go forehand to backhand and slide the puck under Matthew Welsh for the Reds second goal of the night at 5:10. The Huskies cut into the lead seven seconds into their third straight power play of the period - and fourth straight in the game - when Andrew Coxhead tucked the puck in from in tight at the 10:00 mark. The momentum proved to be short lived, however. Just 48 seconds later Austen Keating shook free from a defender behind the net, came out front, and while falling to ice, swung a pass across the slot right on the tape of Nicolas Guay, who found the back of the net for a 3-1 lead. Dove-McFalls was awarded the secondary assist on the insurance marker. UNB completed the scoring at 14:17 when Keating accepted a long Kade Landry pass in the Huskies zone. Dove-McFalls rushed into the zone to create a two-on-one and Keating put the puck on a platter for him with Dove-McFalls putting a wrist shot into the top left corner, sending the water bottle flying. The Reds would take the 4-1 lead into the 3rd period after out-shooting Saint Mary's 11-5 in the period. 

With UNB utilizing a short bench all night one might have expected the Huskies to have a strong final twenty minutes against a tired Reds team. That did not prove to be the case as UNB was clearly the better team in the 3rd period, out-shooting SMU 16-4 and being in control throughout, leaving little doubt as to the outcome. 

- The shots in the game were 36-14 for UNB.

- The Reds were missing Noah Carroll, Benjamin Gagne, Tyler Boland, and Griffen Outhouse. They began the game with only 16 skaters and ,after the early injuries, played the rest of the night with only 14 skaters - four short of a full line-up.

- UNB was 0 for 6 on the power play. SMU was 1 for 5. 

- The Reds did struggle on face-offs all night, only winning 26 out of 61. Dove-McFalls was a workhorse, taking 29 draws and winning 15 of them.

- While we mentioned last night UNB's recent struggles in Wolfville, surprisingly the opposite has been the case for the Reds in Halifax, especially at the Huskies new home. UNB has now posted eight straight road wins over SMU. This includes a 4-0-0 mark at the new Dauphinee Centre, where the Reds have out-scored the Huskies 26-6.  

- UNB has given up two or fewer goals in all but one game this season - their lone loss, 4-3 to St. FX on October 30th. 

- It was a fruitful night on the out of town scoreboard as the lower ranked team won each of the other two games on the docket. UPEI got a late power play goal to upend Dalhousie 4-3 on the island and Acadia moved past Moncton and into the final playoff spot with a crucial 4-3 road win. 

- Not only is UNB seven points up on the second place X-Men, they are now 15 points ahead of the 3rd place teams (SMU, UPEI, Dalhousie), meaning they have essentially already clinched a first round playoff bye.

- The final home game of the first half comes next Friday and it's an important one as it is the 5th Annual Teddy Bear Toss against the Universite de Moncton Aigles Bleus. Bring your new or gently used stuffed toys and throw them on the ice after UNB's first goal. If over 1500 stuffies  are collected ticket holders will receive 40% off their bill at the Snooty Fox directly after the game. Game time is 7PM.