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Reds fall to Axemen, Huskies

It was an important weekend for the UNB Varsity Reds men’s hockey team as they played host to the Saint Mary’s Huskies on Friday and Acadia Axemen on Saturday. UNB, who headed into the weekend with a record of 8-1-1, was in search of two big home wins but were unable to do so, coming away with only one point between the two contests.

In Friday’s affair with Saint Mary’s, UNB put themselves in a hole early as the Huskies scored three times in a penalty-filled opening frame. Stephen Johnston, Ben Duffy and Bradley Greene all found the back of the net despite only having four shots as a team in the first period.

UNB was able to get one back as Peter Trainor scored on a power play 3:43 into the second period, but SMU quickly tallied a power play goal of their own just over three minutes later. Steven Trojanovic was the goal scorer for SMU, a goal which proved to be the eventual game winner. Philippe Halley scored for UNB in the later stages of the second period to make it 4-2 game heading into the third and final period.

UNB outshot the Huskies 11-3 in the third period but only managed to find the back of the net once as Matt Boudens scored with just under five minutes remaining. Despite outshooting SMU 31-13 overall, UNB lost 4-3.

Huskies goaltender Anthony Peters was solid as usual, making 28 saves in the win. UNB goaltender David Shantz allowed four goals on 13 shots.

On Saturday, the Varsity Reds were in search of a bounce-back game against the Axemen. The Reds were unsuccessful though, dropping a second straight home game, 4-3 in overtime. The Reds, 8-2-2, dropped to third in the AUS standings as Acadia, 9-3-0, moved slightly ahead of them.

Prior to Saturday’s game, UNB forward Rob Mignardi received the first annual Rod Pike Award. The award is in memory of the late Rod Pike who played defence on the UNB men’s hockey team from 1976-80. The Rod Pike Award in men’s hockey is awarded to a UNB hockey player that has demonstrated a special athletic ability and has a successful academic performance. Mignardi, this year’s recipient, had a 4.0 GPA in business last year as a redshirt for the Varsity Reds.

Acadia’s captain, Liam Heelis, opened the scoring midway through the first period to make it 1-0 for the Axemen. The Varsity Reds tied it up late on a power play as Trainor’s cross-ice pass found Halley’s stick and then the back of the net with just 37 seconds remaining in the opening frame.

Acadia was able to take the lead back 7:45 into the second period as rookie Zach Franko found the puck in a big scrum in front of UNB’s net and put it in. With a few minutes left in the second, UNB’s R.D. Chisholm blocked a slapshot with his hand/wrist, forcing him to leave the game and not return. UNB was able to score late once again as Philippe Maillet scored on a one timer from the left side of the ice with 27 seconds left in the period. Shots were 12 apiece in the second.

UNB carried their momentum from the late second period goal into the third, which saw Maillet score his second of the game just 15 seconds in to put the Reds ahead for the first time. Acadia then tied the game up at 6:40 on a power play. Remy Giftopoulous skated the puck around the net, managing to chase Shantz out of position and then fed it out front to Brett Thompson who shot the puck into the yawning cage. UNB’s Tyler Carroll took a late cross checking penalty which saw Acadia go on the power play with under two minutes left in the game. Shantz made several big saves in the final minute and Halley was able to swat the puck away from the goal with just seconds left on the clock to force overtime. Acadia outshot UNB 9-4 in the period.

In the overtime period, Acadia won a puck battle along the boards and Alex Beaton was able to feed Franko near the left side faceoff circle at 2:05. Franko beat Shantz up high for his second goal of the game and the game-winner. UNB and Acadia both finished with 29 shots on goal in the contest.

Acadia was led by Franko’s two goals and goaltender Brandon Glover who made 26 saves in the win. Shantz finished with 25 saves in the loss.

The Varsity Reds will look to bounce back from a tough weekend at home with away games at Saint Mary’s and St. Francis Xavier this Friday and Saturday, respectively.

“This weekend was a growth opportunity,” said Varsity Reds head coach Gardiner MacDougall. “We hung around and we had a lead in the third period and at home you have to find a way to protect it. It was disappointing to give up a lead like that but you have to take the positives out of it — like a huge penalty kill with minutes left to grab a point.

“We have made good progress with our group but you have to be better at home. Our goal is [to] get better all the time.”

 

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