The UNB Varsity Reds men’s hockey team picked up their most lopsided win of the season on Friday night in a game that saw the surprising return of star forward Christopher Clapperton after a serious injury.
UPEI entered the game at a significant numerical disadvantage, having only thirteen players due to a combination of injuries and suspensions. UNB, on the other hand, had a full lineup of eighteen—including the returning Clapperton, who played his first game since suffering a concussion in a frightening incident on Oct. 27 against Acadia.
PEI managed to keep things relatively even for the first half of the opening period before Peter Trainor put the V-Reds on the board, redirecting a shot from defenseman Mark Simpson to give his team a 1-0 advantage.
Captain Dylan Willick was awarded the second assist on the goal. UNB began to take control of the game late in the period as they outshot the Panthers 6-1 in the remaining eight minutes. However, they were unable to add an insurance goal before the end of the frame.
UPEI’s Marcus Power appeared to give his team some life at 2:53 in the second, capitalizing on a two man breakaway caused by a blocked shot by Panthers’ forward Sam Aulie. This evened the game at one goal apiece. The goal proved to be nothing more than a minor setback for the V-Reds, however, as they responded with two goals from Matt Murphy and Stephen Anderson within the next five minutes.
With the score at 3-1 and over ten minutes remaining in the second period, UNB’s offence was far from finished. Chris Clapperton scored his first goal since his return. His tally was quickly followed by goals from Willick and Chris Caissy for a total of three goals in just over a minute.
Cam Brace scored to extend the lead even further in the final minute of the period with Caissy and Kris Bennett receiving assists on the play. What had started as a fairly even game had quickly turned into a 7-1 blowout.
The V-Reds’ offensive onslaught continued early in the third, as Clapperton added his second of the night on a breakaway, showing no ill effects from the injury that caused him to miss seven games.
The game ended with a final score of 8-1 and Clapperton was named first star with an impressive stat line of two goals, an assist, a plus four rating and four shots on goal.
“I was ready to play,” said Clapperton after the game. “I practiced a lot for the past two weeks with the coaches. It made me better and I was ready for that game.”
Matt Murphy, the game’s second star, credited his team’s scoring depth for their offensive explosion.
“We had a lot of guys contribute. Clappy, it was great to have him back, he’s one of our best players and it was nice to see him back, but we had the whole team going and it was nice to see some guys get rewarded tonight.”
Photo by Andy Campbell.