After an offseason marked by the departure of several key players, fans of Varsity Reds men’s hockey were given many reasons to be optimistic—including the team’s 6-0 exhibition win over the Dalhousie Tigers on Friday night.
In what will be their only home exhibition game before the start of the regular season, UNB dominated the ice for the majority of the game. More impressive, however, were the team’s new additions, who scored a total of four goals and got two assists.
Leading the way was rookie Kris Bennett, who tallied three goals and a +4 rating on his way to being named the game’s first star.
Bennett looked like dangerous every time he stepped on the ice, as he used his speed and willingness to go to the front of the net to create numerous scoring chances throughout the game. In addition to his offensive contributions, Bennett also showed versatility in powerplay, penalty kill situations and in the faceoff circle.
After the game, head coach Gardiner MacDougall had plenty of praise for the 21-year-old Bennett’s play and character.
“He has been impressive since he has got here. He’s hungry and gets on pucks, follows directions, great work ethic and he was tied for top in our fitness—which is pretty impressive when a first-year guy comes in and does that,” stated MacDougall. “He earns everything he gets.”
Bennett, however, was quick to deflect praise to his teammates and coaches.
“Luckily for me, I had a couple of nice passes on my stick,” said Bennett. “It was a really good team effort.”
Bennett was far from the only newcomer to make an impact on Friday night. Rookie defenseman Tristan Pomerleau added a goal and finished with a +4 rating. He also showed some feistiness while getting involved in a large scrum at the end of the first period, which saw him nearly drop the gloves with Tigers rookie Chandler Yakimowicz. Both players received ten minute misconducts for the incident.
Forward Tyler Boland and defenseman Trey Lewis also both picked up assists. Boland saw plenty of time on the powerplay throughout the game and combined with Bennett to create several scoring chances. Lewis, on the other hand, displayed the grit and defensive ability that are likely to make him an important part of UNB’s penalty killing unit this season.
Also making his Aitken Centre debut was goaltender Rylan Parenteau, who faced only three shots in the first period before being replaced by Alex Dubeau for the remainder of the game. Despite not being tested much during his twenty minutes of play, Parenteau did display impressive puck handling abilities.
The Varsity Reds will now head to Boston, where they will close out the pre-season with a game against the NCAA’s Boston College Eagles.