The Varsity Reds men’s hockey team has reclaimed first place in AUS league standings after picking up two more victories over the weekend.
The first of their two wins came on Friday night at the Aitken Centre when they defeated the Moncton Aigles Bleus for the third time this season, winning by a final score of 6-1.
The game saw UNB test UdeM goalie Alexi Thibaudeau early and often, racking up an impressive 59 shots on goal. While Thibaudeau’s strong play kept the score close for the majority of the game, UNB’s relentless pressure ultimately proved too much, as they scored three goals less than two minutes apart in the third period.
“It was a long game, lots of shots,” said Thibaudeau after the game, acknowledging that the barrage wore him down a bit near the end of the game.
“But overall, it’s a goalie’s dream [to face] lots of shots. It was a good outing for the most part; the boys held it together until the end.”
A large part of UNB’s success in the game was thanks to forward Kris Bennett, who continues to impress in his rookie season. Bennett scored three goals, led the team’s shots on goal with ten and was ultimately named the game’s first star.
Bennett, however, credited much his personal success to luck and his linemates, Stephen Anderson and Tyler Boland.
“I guess things right now are just going my way, I’m just working as hard as I can. A little bit of puck luck, that’s for sure.”
Bennett has quickly become emblematic of high work ethic and energy, both of which are staples of head coach Gardiner MacDougall’s teams. Bennett believes these traits set the Varsity Reds apart from other teams in the league and allowed for their burst of offense late in the game.
“We’re a third period team; we practice the hardest in the country. Our practices are all-out battles and the games almost feel easier. Gardiner does a great job with keeping our work ethic up and holding everyone accountable.”
UNB followed up their win over UdeM with a narrow 3-2 victory on the road against the UPEI Panthers, despite the opposing team’s solid defensive effort. UNB had 26 shots on goal, their lowest total of the season. Oliver Cooper scored the game-winner for the Reds, his sixth goal this season.
The V-Reds will now defend their top-spot against second-placed St. FX on Friday night at the Aitken Centre; St.FX will undoubtedly be a motivated group after giving up six goals in an overtime loss to Acadia over the weekend.
Photos: @UDEM Kyle Lamkin UNB Athletics; @UPEI: UPEI Athletics