Hockey: AUS Weekly Update

The StFX X-Men, who were giant killers when they upset the UNB Varsity Reds in the AUS playoffs last year before bowing out to the eventual CIS champions SMU Huskies, are the hottest team in the east in the early season.

Led by fifth-year captain Chris Hulit (6 goals & 8 points in 4 games) the X-Men are 4-0 in conference play. Friday night they had a back and forth game with struggling St. Thomas until the third period, when X scored four unanswered goals for the 5-2 win. Saturday night they were hosting UdeM, and were never behind as they came away with a 4-1 win, with neither team scoring on the power play and the shots 36 apiece. For the X-Men the offense is not all the play of Hulit, as rookie Jason Bast, Matthew Bragg and Bryce Swan each have a goal and 4 assists so far this season and goaltenders Joey Perricone and Bryan Gillis each have two wins.

Friday night UNB had their home opener, and made short work of the rebuilding Dalhousie Tigers, cruising to a 5-1 win. Saturday night was a stiffer challenge, and it wasn't until a couple of controversial penalties (from the Acadia viewpoint) in the third period before the V-Reds were able to put away the opportunistic Axemen 5-2. Acadia coach Darren Burns did his best to avoid repercussions from the conference in his post game comments to the Daily Gleaner:
"I was impressed with our last 40-45 minutes," Burns said. "I can't comment on the officiating, obviously, because then I get suspended and then I can't be with my team on Friday night. I'm sure Gardiner (UNB coach MacDougall) is going to watch video tonight and I'm going to watch video," Burns said. "I'm going to make myself better, players are going to make themselves better. I think if everybody who's involved in the game watches video, maybe they'd be better too." (emphasis mine)
Oh, and Acadia wasn't happy about a second period non-goal, shorthanded by Scott Tregunna, that was clear to us in the press box (and confirmed by replay on Rogers TV), but fooled the goal judge and zebras.

The developing story at UNB is not so much that of CIS MVP Hunter Tremblay, who is tied for the team lead in points (6), but the strong play of (third line, or are they the second line?) linemates Jeff Lee and Dion Campbell, who each have 3 goals. Lee, from Calgary, joined the V-Reds late last fall after pro camps and sorting out some eligibility issues and never really found his game in the deep UNB line-up. Campbell, from Melville, SK, came out of Junior A hockey and was passed over by the Saskatchewan Huskies and was essentially a walk-on at UNB in 2008. Campbell has improved every year and the two have found their groove together this season driving opposition nets and making life miserable for defencemen.

St. Thomas was supposed to play Saint Mary's on Saturday night, but the game was postponed until December due to a scheduling conflict at the Halifax Forum. The winless Tommies will have to wait until Wednesday to try again for that first win, when they host Moncton. The good news for STU is that goaltender Charles Lavigne has finished serving his four-game suspension that carried over from last season, and will probably get the start.

Moncton, who were 2-0 last week and somehow got a #1 vote from someone on the CIS Top 10 committee, got into penalty trouble against Saint Mary's on Friday night, and really paid the price. The Huskies scored 5 power play goals in 10 extra-man opportunities, and humbled les Aigles Bleus 7-1. SMU's Colby Pridham scored twice on the power play and once shorthanded for the hat trick, while Cam Fergus had three assists in the game.

UPEI had a mixed weekend. On Friday night they gave up three first period goals to Acadia, scored twice in the second period to draw within a goal, only to see the Axemen score twice in the third period for the 5-2 win. Saturday they rebounded nicely against Dalhousie. The Tigers had the early lead, and after exchanging goals, the Panthers scored five answered markers for the 6-2 win. UPEI was led by veteran Cory Vitarelli with the hat trick and three points from Matt Carter.
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