The UNB Varsity Reds men’s hockey team looked determined to win their third consecutive national title this past weekend, picking up wins over two of the top ten teams in Canada in back-to-back nights at the Aitken Centre.
Their weekend began with a tough matchup against the Saint Mary’s Huskies, who entered the game ranked fourth in the AUS and seventh in the country. The previous meeting between the two teams saw the V-Reds suffer a 5-4 defeat by shootout.
Looking to avoid a similar fate on Friday night, UNB dominated play in the first period, outshooting their fourth-ranked opponents 19-4 and opening up a 2-0 lead. However, strong play from Huskies goaltender Cole Cheveldave kept his team in the game, preventing UNB from extending their lead further.
Cheveldave’s excellent first period proved important in the remaining 40 minutes of the game, as Saint Mary’s came out for the second period looking like a completely different team. They went on to outshoot the Varsity Reds for the remainder of the game.
It was now time for V-Reds netminder Alex Dubeau’s to play hero for his team, as he turned away several dangerous scoring chances by the Huskies. The highlight of the game for Dubeau was one particularly larcenous glove save on SMU’s Anthony Repaci that left the third-year forward stunned.
“Unbelievable save,” said Repaci after the game. “I was just standing there, I didn’t know what to say. You look back at what I could have done better and there was nothing, I got all of it and got it up. Credit to him.”
“I saw two guys, one on my left and one on my right. I knew he was for sure going to pass it, I for sure anticipated that I was going to slide. I guess my glove was really positioned great. (Those are) the saves I dream of,” said Dubeau.
“I like to think that I was really alert to anticipate that pass but it’s fifty-fifty luck and positioning.”
UNB ultimately walked away with a 3-2 victory and their heads held high after a solid overall performance against a tough opponent.
“We had a real good first period. I didn’t think we responded as well in the second as we could have, but we hung around,” said head coach Gardiner MacDougall.
“In this league the ability to win one goal games is a crucial part of success.”
After demonstrating their ability to win close games, the Varsity Reds followed it up on Saturday night by proving they also still have to ability to win blowouts against top competition, picking up a 6-0 win against the Acadia Axemen in a predictably physical game.
Acadia entered the game ranked third in the AUS and sixth in the country, while also leading the conference in goals scored.
UNB managed to hold the Axemen’s potent offence to only 15 shots on goal during the game in what was one of their most impressive defensive performances of the season.
While Dubeau was not tested a lot throughout the match, he played a quiet and mistake-free game en route to his second shutout of the season.
UNB meets UPEI in Charlottetown this Wednesday, followed by a home game against Moncton on Saturday Jan. 27 at 7 p.m.
Photo by Andy Campbell, UNB Athletics