For the fourth time in five years, the UNB Varsity Reds are Atlantic University Sport men’s hockey champions.
Phil Halley scored with 1:48 remaining in regulation time to give UNB a 4-2 win last night in Wolfville, completing a 2-0 series sweep of the Acadia Axemen. The Varsity Reds won game one of the best-of-three AUS Championship series 8-2 on Monday night in Fredericton.
The two teams have both earned spots in the University Cup tournament, which takes place March 12-15 at Scotiabank Centre in Halifax. The schedule and seeding for the eight team national championship is expected to be announced on Monday.
Thanks to winning the AUS title, UNB will likely be one of the top two seeds at the University Cup, giving the Reds a favourable schedule in the single elimination style tournament.
Along with Halley, Rob Mignardi, Chris Caissy and Dylan Willick scored for the V-Reds, securing UNB’s first AUS Championship since 2013. David Shantz made 28 stops in the win.
Taylor Makin and Remy Giftopoulos had Acadia goals. Brandon Glover, who was pulled after allowing three goals on five shots in game one, made 38 saves in the loss.
Like the Varsity Reds on Monday, the Axemen made sure to get off to a good start on home ice. Just 3:53 in, Makin put in a bouncing puck to give the home side a 1-0 advantage.
UNB went to the power play at 8:11. Mignardi had a breakaway on the man advantage but was denied by Glover. Just moments after the power play ended at 10:22, Mignardi made no mistake this time and slipped the puck past Glover to tie things at 1-1.
Late in the period and with Colin Suellentrop in the box for hooking, Giftopolous scored at 18:03 to give the Axemen a 2-1 lead heading into intermission.
Caissy’s second of the playoffs at 10:16 tied the game at 2-2 midway through the middle frame. Neither team generated a whole lot of scoring chances in the second with shots 12-10 in favour of the Axemen.
Acadia had a fantastic opportunity to pull ahead at 12:19 of the third when they headed to a 16 second five-on-three power play. The Varsity Reds produced an excellent penalty kill though and didn’t allow the Axemen to create any quality scoring opportunities.
At 18:12, Jordan Murray fired a shot from the point that was redirected by Halley’s stick and past Glover to give UNB a late 3-2 lead. Then with 14 seconds remaining, Willick hit Acadia’s empty net to make it a 4-2 final.