Friday, November 12, 2021

Reds Trounce Axemen

If you know you are going to have to start your third string goaltender, some good strategies may be to possess the puck for the majority of the game and try to and score more goals than the opposition has shots on goal. The number one ranked University of New Brunswick Reds achieved the former and, for the first 57 minutes of the game, the latter until a late "flurry" by the visiting Acadia Axemen - which included a power play goal with 1:01 remaining to spoil Tanner Somers shutout bid. Nonetheless, the Reds skated away with a dominating 6-1 victory tonight at the AUC. 

The Reds relentless forecheck and transition game was on full display from the opening face-off as they hardly gave the shorthanded Axemen a chance to catch their breath. UNB out-shot Acadia 13-1 over the first twenty minutes and built a 2-0 lead. The game's ice-breaker came at 8:04 when Jason Willms (Casey, Carroll) got the puck just below the left face-off dot and beat reigning AUS MVP Logan Flodell with a wrist shot short side. It only took 67 seconds for the Reds to add to the lead, and essentially put the game out of reach for the offensively-challenged visitors. Tyler Boland stickhandled around a defender on his way towards the net, where he had his shot attempt stopped. However, the rebound trickled into the crease behind Flodell and Nicolas Guay was right there to pounce on the loose puck and put it in. 

The 2nd period was much of the same with UNB holding a 16-2 edge in shots on goal and adding another three goals. At 4:11 Noah Carroll - who may have played his best game in a UNB uniform tonight - skated the puck down the right boards to the goal line before making a beautiful cross-ice pass to Benjamin Gagne, who was all alone at the back door for an easy-tap in. Willms picked up the secondary assist on Gagne's first career AUS goal. Brady Gilmour (Nurse) showed off his silky mitts to make it 4-0 at 12:02, capping a lengthy shift in the Axemen zone with a perfectly placed backhanded shot off the cross-bar and in. MacAuley Carson (Gilmour, Landry) added a power play goal at 14:57 for his first career AUS goal to give the Reds a five goal cushion heading into the 3rd period.

The biggest storyline over the final twenty minutes was whether Reds goaltender Tanner Somers could complete the shut-out in his first career AUS start - and his first game action of any kind since playing for the Miramichi Timberwolves in 2018-2019. The result of the game wasn't in doubt, especially after another power play goal at 7:42 made it 6-0. After a wild sequence around Flodell that had many fans wondering "how did that not go in?!" Tyler Boland (Guay) decided to take matters in his own hands as he picked up a loose puck in the corner, curled off the boards and into the slot, and wired a hard wrist shot into the top corner. With three minutes remaining the Axemen trailed 6-0 and only had five shots on goal, but a late "outburst" generated three shots and their lone goal, a power play marker off the stick of Jack Flaman with 1:01 left in the contest that proved to be the last goal of the night. Shots in the period were 10-5 for UNB.

- Shots in the game were 39-8 for the Reds.

- UNB was still without Mark Rassell and Rylan Parenteau, who are both "week to week" according to Gardiner MacDougall. Griffen Outhouse is also injured. As a result, Jack Ryan was dressed as the emergency back-up goalie. 

- The Axemen only dressed 14 skaters as they are also ravaged with injuries. 

- UNB's much maligned power play had a good night, converting on two out of three opportunities. Acadia was 1 for 2.

- The Reds won 37 out of 58 face-offs with James Phelan (12 out of 19) leading the way. 

- Carson was named the player of the game. Carroll and Gilmour were the second and third stars respectively.

- Before the game Mark Rassell was named the recipient of this year's Rod Pike Memorial Scholarship, which is given annually to the player who shows outstanding leadership and compete level and is willing to go the extra mile for his teammates and team.

- Attendance was 2003 on a rainy night in the provincial capital. 

- Since losing to the Axemen in game 1 of the 2020 AUS Final, the Reds have gone 5-0 with a 25-3 goal differential versus Acadia. 

- After finishing in second place in 2019-2020 with a 19-9-2 record (and ending the season with a 2-5-2 stretch), the Axemen are off to a very disappointing start this season, sitting in 6th place with a 4-8-0 record. 

- Meanwhile, UNB has won 10 of their first 11 games for only the second time since 2009-2010. They started 11-0-1 in 2017-2018.

- In other conference action tonight, Saint Mary's bested Moncton 3-1 on the road and UPEI shellacked St. FX 9-1 in Charlottetown in a game that featured some fireworks in the third period, something that we never, ever see when the X-Men are getting blown out (insert sarcasm here).

- The Reds will look to replicate tonight's performance tomorrow night when they welcome the Saint Mary's Huskies to the AUC. Game time is 7PM.