After a long preseason, all eight AUS men's hockey teams opened the regular season this weekend, with some close games and some blowouts.
Friday night UNB had their home-opener and CIS championship banner raising and the depleted UPEI squad were the sacrificial lambs for the jacked up Varsity Reds. The game quickly saw the Panthers transform into the Washington Generals against UNB's Harlem Globetrotters routine. UNB outshot UPEI 50-20 in the 10-0 blanking with Travis Fullerton getting the shutout and Hunter Tremblay notching the hat trick. The next night bitter rival Moncton was in Fredericton, and this game had more of an edge to it. UNB was up 7-0 in the second period before Moncton got on the score clock, and it finished 9-3 with UNB outshooting UdeM 47-23. There was 104 PIM equally divided between the two teams thanks to several misconduct calls and lots of bad blood. Rookie Chris Culligan had a hat trick for UNB in the victory and linemate Hunter Tremblay added a pair of goals.
On Friday night the first Battle of Halifax went to Saint Mary's, but surprisingly the Dalhousie Tigers pushed the Huskies to overtime, although a bad penalty allowed SMU's killer power play to win the game 3-2 in OT. Rookie Dal goalie Bobby Nadeau made 43 saves to steal the all-important point in the standings. Saturday night Dal was in Antigonish, and Nadeau made 36 saves in losing to StFX 4-2. It was a good bounce back for X, who lost 4-3 in overtime Friday night to the Acadia Axemen in Wolfville. In that game it was rookie X-Men goaltender Joey Perricone stealing a point for his team, as he made 48 saves in the loss.
Goalies were the big stars on the weekend. On Friday, rookie St. Thomas netminder Charles Lavigne made 46 saves to steal a 4-2 win against Moncton, spoiling their home opener in the newly renovated J-Louis Levesque Arena. Also of note in the game for the Tommies was transfer student Tyler Dietrich scoring two goals. Dietrich may be the first CIS hockey player to play for three schools – UBC, UNB and now STU. However Lavigne was chased from the net on Saturday after the Panthers scored 3 goals on 10 shots in the first 20 minutes. UPEI won 9-4 in a game that evidently got nasty, with STU collecting 68 PIM and UPEI 47. Rookie Panthers defenceman Dylan Quaile collected a hat trick and 2 assists, as did forward Matthew Carter.
My AUS offensive player of the week would be UNB star forward Hunter Tremblay with 5 goals and 2 that were called back and his under-rated physical play. While UPEI d-man Dylan Quaile did get those 5 points, he was -2 against UNB on Friday. My defenceman pick then would be UNB rookie Ben Shutron who had 4 assists and was +7 on the weekend plus a physical force. Completing the sweep for UNB would be top goalie Travis Fullerton, who had the only shutout while the Friday gamestealers lost on Saturday night.