It was business as usual for the 2014/2015 University Cup runners-up.
The UNB Varsity Reds men’s hockey team defeated the visiting McGill Redmen by a score of 6-3 in their first pre-season action of the year. The game was a scrappy affair that featured several scrums, resulting in offsetting minors and the ejection of Jordan Murray for a hit to the head.
“That’s what you expect when they’re coming all the way from Montreal,” said UNB captain Cam Critchlow on the intensity of the game. “They’re not coming here to lose a game so hats off to them, they played hard.”
The V-Reds opened the scoring just 3:13 minutes into the first period with a shorthanded tally from Rob Mignardi, assisted by Dan Willick.
UNB controlled most of the first frame and added a power play goal at the 13:10 marker, scored by Peter Trainor and assisted by Jordan Murray and Phillipe Maillet. The Redmen would take advantage of a five-on-three power play toward the end of the period to cut the UNB lead to one.
UNB started the second period by taking a slew of penalties. They were able, however, to kill off these penalties and score twice while shorthanded. The shorthanded markers were scored by Phillipe Halley and Chris Caissey respectively.
It was after these goals that Murray was assessed a game misconduct for an illegal hit to the head. McGill scored once on the five minute major, Daniel Milne provided the power play goal for the Redmen. Alex Wall closed out the second period, scoring for the V-Reds, assisted by Randy Gazzola.
UNB and McGill traded goals in the final period to round out the scoring. UNB outshot their rivals from Montreal by a final tally of 37-22.
Redmen player Liam Heelis, a member of UNB’s silver medal-winning squad last year, faced his old team for the first time in this pre-season matchup.
“Liam was a distinguished player in the AUS and I’m sure he’ll continue to do that in the OUA,” said Critchlow of his former teammate. “I think they have a good team, especially for that division. I’m sure they will do really well and be a front-runner and you’ll see them in March.”
The only negative comments from head coach Gardiner MacDougall were in regards to the number of penalties (25 PIM) taken by UNB.
“It was a real good test for this time of year,” said MacDougall. “More penalties than we would’ve liked but that’s sometimes the nature of the game this time of year. [The pre-season] is all about establishing the standard of your work ethic, that’s the key.”
Both UNB goaltenders, Etienne Marcoux and Alex Dubeau, got action in the game. The pair allowed three goals on 22 shots and both made several nice saves.
The V-Reds will make a trip south of the border as a final tune-up before the regular season begins, they will play the Maine Pirates on Oct. 1, Boston College on Oct. 3 and U-Mass Lowell on Oct. 4.
AUS action gets underway Oct. 10 as the V-Reds take on the UPEI Panthers at home at 7 p.m.