The scoring came early in UNB’s first regular season game against their neighbouring rivals, the St. Thomas Tommies, and it carried on throughout 60 thrilling minutes of hockey at the Aitken Centre on Wednesday night.
Dylan Willick scored the first goal of the night with an innocent-looking wrist shot that beat Tommies goaltender Tyson Teichmann down low to put UNB up 1-0 at 7:00.
St. Thomas’ Connor Sanvido, with assists from JC Campagna and Bryce Milson, scored soon after to tie the game up at 1-1. The forward’s initial shot was stopped by UNB goaltender David Shantz but he collected his own rebound and deposited the puck to even things up.
With less than five minutes left in the first period, St. Thomas went to the power play when Colin Suellentrop was called for hooking. After several promising chances, Brendan Childerley fired a knuckler from below the point to give St. Thomas a 2-1 advantage going into the intermission.
Shots in the first were 15-13 in favour of the Tommies.
Both teams hit the ice for a chippy second half, with plenty of scoring chances as well as penalties for both teams.
Philippe Maillet fired a wrist shot from the slot six minutes into the period that beat Teichmann to make it a 2-2 game.
One minute later, however, JC Campagna capitalized on a five-on-three power play for the Tommies. His shot from inside the circle went upstairs on Shantz to make it 3-2 for the visiting team.
UNB’s streak of penalties continued later on, with another five-on-three advantage for STU only eight minutes into the period. Colin Martin fooled a fallen Shantz to make it 4-2 STU.
At 10:11 in the second period, defenceman Jordan Murray scored a shorthanded goal to cut St. Thomas’ lead to 4-3.
UNB had the man advantage with two minutes remaining in the second. Maillet scored his second goal in the dying seconds of the period to tie the game at 4-4. Shots were 15-4 in favour of the Reds in the second.
The third period was fast-paced with numerous opportunities at both ends of the ice.
STU’s Jason Cameron notched an early goal three minutes in to put his team ahead by one.
Not to be outdone, Willick responded with his second of the night to even the score at 5-5.
One minute later, Cam Braes scored the eventual game winner, putting UNB ahead for the first time in 40 minutes. The team gained more steam following a big hit from Matt Petgrave.
STU took an ill-timed penalty with 4:32 left in the game, leading to Maillet’s first hat trick of the season.
The final score was 7-5 in favour of UNB. Shots were 16-4 UNB in the third and 44-23 overall.
UNB head coach Gardiner MacDougall credited his entire team for eking out the win.
“One of the secrets in our team is that we have good depth throughout the lineup,” said MacDougall. “We can get contributions from all four of our forward lines, and contributions from our defence as well.”
While V-Reds fans basked in the glory of once again defeating their Fredericton rivals, MacDougall is already looking towards this weekend’s games against Acadia and Saint Mary’s, citing the team’s need to control puck possession.
“Every night is a four point night in our league and we need to find a way to improve each night.”