After starting the season with wins in each of their first four games, the UNB Varsity Reds men’s hockey team was dealt its first defeat of the season on Friday in their first of two weekend road games in Nova Scotia.
Despite a dominant opening period that saw UNB out-shoot the Acadia Axemen 19-4, the Varsity Reds were unable to capitalize on their scoring chances—largely due to Axemen netminder Robert Steeves’ excellent play.
This strong play continued into the second period, giving Acadia more momentum. This shift in was exacerbated as the Varsity Reds began running into penalty trouble, receiving three minor penalties within the first six minutes of the period.
Acadia was able to capitalize with forward Stephen Harper scoring a power-play goal to give his team a 1-0 lead that would remain in place for the majority of the period.
UNB was finally able to best Steeves—and even up the score in the final minute of the second period when rookie forward Tyler Boland capitalized on the Varsity Reds’ eighth power-play opportunity, marking his first goal as a Varsity Red; Kris Bennett and Christopher Clapperton were credited with assists.
While Acadia ended the second period with a 12-8 advantage in shots on goal, there was a sense that UNB held the momentum heading into the third period. This proved accurate, as the V-Reds quickly gave themselves a 2-1 lead on a goal from Clapperton with assists going to Boland and third-year forward Stephen Anderson.
Early this month, Anderson earned a USport Player of the Week recognition after scoring five goals in two games.
However, this would prove to be the last time the Varsity Reds were able to beat Steeves, as he managed to shut the door for the remainder of the game despite being outshot 17-7 in the third period.
Acadia managed to take advantage of their limited chances midway through the period to even the game at two goals apiece—sending it to three-on-three overtime, where defenseman Liam Maaskant scored to give the Axemen the win.
Steeves was named the first star of the game.
The Varsity Reds were able to rebound one night later when they defeated the Saint Mary’s Huskies by a score of 4-2.
The game against the Huskies looked much like the loss to Acadia, as UNB again dominated the first period but were unable to capitalize before giving up the first goal of the game midway through the second.
UNB responded less than a minute later with a goal from Anderson—but Saint Mary’s would add another and head into the third with a 2-1 lead.
Unlike the previous night, UNB was able to capitalize on their chances in the third period with Oliver Cooper and Olivier LeBlanc each scoring power-play goals and Kris Bennett adding an empty-netter to seal the 4-2 victory.
The Varsity Reds will now return home at second place in AUS standings. The team is set to rematch both Acadia and Saint Mary’s this weekend at the Aitken Centre; the former, played against Acadia, will take place on Oct. 27, while the rematch against the Huskies takes place on Saturday, Oct. 28. Both games are scheduled to start at 7 p.m.