All the newcomers are fitting in quite nicely with the UNB Varsity Reds men’s hockey team.
New recruits Cameron Brace, Matt Boudens, Randy Gazzola, R.D. Chisholm, Peter Trainor and Francis Beauvillier all scored for the Varsity Reds this past weekend, helping the team defeat the Dalhousie Tigers 6-3 on Friday and the St. Francis Xavier X-Men 5-2 on Saturday.
“Our first year veterans are key parts of our group,” said head coach Gardiner MacDougall following Saturday’s game. “[Friday] night we had several get their first goals too. It’s a big confidence boost to get goals early in their AUS careers — and they’re key goals.”
On Saturday, Trainor’s second-period goal proved to be the game winner while Beauvillier’s tally early in the third gave the Varsity Reds some insurance after StFX had cut UNB’s lead to one.
“These guys are getting valuable ice time now,” MacDougall said of his first-year players. “The one thing about the AUS is that every night you’re going to have to give that effort to get the results. You’ve got to challenge your body to give that effort every night.
“It’s a big switch. It’s a reduced schedule but the intensity of each game goes up so much.”
Boudens opened the scoring on Saturday, redirecting a Gazzola point shot at 3:16 to give UNB a 1-0 lead on their first shot of the game. Shots were 17-9 in favour of UNB in the first period.
Chisholm, a former X-Man, scored his first goal as a V-Red at 12:33 of the second, sending a long point shot through traffic and in to make it 2-0 UNB. Less than three minutes later, Trainor fired a wrist shot from the faceoff dot and beat StFX goaltender Drew Owsley to make it 3-0.
StFX then started to make a push. At 16:33, Nathan Chiarlitti beat UNB goaltender David Shantz with a shot from the slot that went off the post and in to make it 3-1. Less than a minute later, Robert Slaney scored off a scramble in the crease to make it 3-2. Shots were 16-6 for the Reds in the second stanza.
In the third, Beauvillier scored a huge insurance marker at 3:07, giving UNB a 4-2 advantage. Taylor MacDougall added an empty netter with 1:04 left to make it a 5-2 final. Shots were 9-1 UNB in the third and 42-16 overall.
“I thought we got better as the game went on,” said MacDougall. “We weren’t as good off the start. David Shantz — he’s got a stabilizing influence on our group and I thought he was strong early. And then we just found ways to get better.
“You need those experiences. You draw on those experiences if you can get through them. The key was we kept the lead going into the third.”
The game was physical and a bit chippy at times. Each team was given 10 power plays, and the large amount of penalties resulted in the game not having a ton of flow.
There were some fireworks after the game as well. The officials had to get involved when the two coaching staffs exchanged harsh words at the entrance of the Varsity Reds tunnel. The two teams will meet again on Halloween night at StFX.
In UNB’s home opener on Friday, Brace opened the scoring at 4:39 to make it 1-0 Reds. But the Tigers quickly responded with a goal — which came on their first shot of the game — from Pierre Vandall just 26 seconds later.
At 9:39, Boudens scored to get the Reds back in front. But once again, Dalhousie responded, this time from Mike Evelyn at 15:34, to tie things at 2-2 heading into intermission. Shots were 16-6 in UNB’s favour.
In the second, Dylan Willick connected at 3:37 to make it 3-2 Reds. Less than a minute later, Boudens performed a wraparound and put in his rebound, giving UNB a 4-2 lead. Then at 5:18, Gazzola scored on a power play with a wrist shot from the top of the circle to make it 5-2. Cam Critchlow rounded out the second period scoring with a goal at 8:54 to make it 6-2 after 40 minutes. Shots in the second were 16-6 in favour of the Varsity Reds.
UNB took their foot off the gas a bit in the third, and a physical and feisty game died down a bit. Dalhousie’s JP Harvey netted the only goal of the period at 4:13 to make it a 6-3 final. Shots in the third were 10-4 UNB and 42-14 overall.
Shantz, playing in his first season of Canadian Interuniversity Sport hockey, played well in both starts on the weekend, making 11 saves against the Tigers and 14 against the X-Men.
Up next for the Varsity Reds is the first Battle of the Hill of the regular season on Wednesday, Oct. 22 at 7 p.m. at the Aitken Centre. The team hits the road this weekend, visiting reigning AUS champion Acadia on Friday and rival Saint Mary’s on Saturday.