The intense race atop the AUS men’s hockey standings between UNB and St.FX has swung back in the X-Men’s favour this past week as they picked up two more wins to pass the Varsity Reds once again.
UNB’s week started out on a bad note on Wednesday evening in Charlottetown as they were upset by the sixth placed UPEI Panthers by a score of 3-2 in what was a back and forth game that saw Christopher Clapperton and Kris Bennett score UNB’s only goals.
This was the latest in a string of major upsets on home ice by the Panthers in January as travel to the island has not been kind to the top teams in the conference. They had previously defeated the Acadia Axemen by a score of 5-1 just over a week before the win over the V-Reds in addition to a shootout win held over St.FX.
Alex Dubeau got his fourth straight start in goal for UNB but was unable to follow up his phenomenal weekend with a fifth straight win, having allowed three goals in 24 shots from UPEI.
UNB rebounded on Saturday night at home against Université de Moncton as they handed the struggling Aigles Bleus a 7-4 defeat. UdeM entered the game last in the conference having lost its previous eight games heading into the matchup and having won just three of their 26 games this season.
The game saw Clapperton and Bennett each add another goal to their season totals while Stephen Anderson notched two goals and two assists en route to being named the player of the game. All three are now among the top 10 in the AUS scoring leaderboard, while Bennett is tied with Saint Mary’s Anthony Repaci for the league lead in goals with 16.
The game marked netminder Rylan Parenteau’s return to UNB goal for the first time in two weeks. The rookie from Saskatoon has been used sparingly this season with all but one of his regular season games coming against UdeM or Dalhousie, the bottom two teams in the conference. He made 15 saves on a total of 19 shots on goal, with three of the four goals against allowed within the last five minutes of the game.
Around the AUS
After going 2-0 this week, St.FX has now won four in a row since suffering a 2-1 shootout loss to UNB two weeks ago and sits one point ahead of the Varsity Reds with four games remaining in the regular season. It has become increasingly evident that the X-Men are a major threat to UNB’s hopes of winning a third straight national title. The two teams will face off for the final time this regular season on Feb., 9, in a game that should prove crucial to seeding for both the AUS playoffs and U Sports finals.
Acadia’s road trip from hell has mercifully ended; the Axemen limp back to Wolfsville having lost each of their last four games by a combined score of 21-4. Their one win over the five-game stretch was a narrow 4-2 win over last placed UdeM. The final loss was by a score of 6-2 at the hands of sixth placed Dalhousie Tigers. While the Axemen have some legitimate excuses such as a lineup depleted by injuries, their recent struggles have to be concerning development for a team that has looked like one of the best teams in the country at times earlier this season.
While UPEI has made noise lately with their upsets over UNB, St.FX and Acadia, Dalhousie has also had a quietly good stretch of games lately. They have now won three straight including upsets over Acadia and Saint Mary’s this past week. After winning just two games over the first two months of the season, they are now 5-3 since the start of 2018 with their only losses coming to the two top teams in the country, UNB and St.FX.
Photo by Thomas Becker/for UPEI Athletics.