Hockey: AUS Weekly Update

This week started on Wednesday, with half the conference playing games. Acadia’s visit to the Halifax Forum did not produce a goaltending duel, and was probably pretty entertaining for the fans in attendance as a result. Colby Pridham opened the scoring shorthanded before Acadia’s Jonathan Laberge evened things up on the same power play. SMU took back the lead midway through the period, and extended their lead seconds into the middle period. The teams traded power play goals, Acadia scores to draw within a goal, and the Huskies added two power play goals in the latter half of the period, including Pridham completing his hat trick. Acadia responded with two goals in the first half of the third period to yet again draw within a goal, only to see Cam Fergus score his second goal, plus an empty netter to complete his hat-trick in the wild 8-6 finish.

The other game Wednesday wasn’t as wild. StFX scored three times by 12:49 of the first period, chasing veteran Dalhousie goalie Josh Disher. The X-Men scored twice against his replacement Bobby Nadeau in the second period to build up a 5-0 lead. Bryce Swan led the offence with two goals. Dalhousie did manage to get on the board in the third period, scoring twice in the classic case of too little, too late in the 5-2 loss.

In one of the more anticipated games on Friday night, streaky StFX hosted Saint Mary’s. The teams were tied 2-2 after the first period, despite SMU outshooting X 20-8. Bryce Swan scored his second goal early in the third period, and the Huskies swapped out backup goalie Cory Chipman and put University Cup winner Neil Conway in nets. That worked out for about 11 minutes, until Kevin Undershute got his second goal of the game. The teams traded goals in the third period, including Swan completing his hat-trick. Down by two goals, the Huskies pulled Conway with 1:52 to go in regulation, but could only manage one goal to lose 5-4. Final shots were 44-21 for SMU, so obviously Joey Perricone had another big night in the StFX nets.

Friday also saw St. Thomas travel to Charlottetown and attempt to start climbing out of the conference basement. The Tommies scored the only goal of the first period, so they were in pretty good shape. Then UPEI’s offence woke up in the second period and notched four goals, including two by last year’s CIS Rookie of the Year Jared Gomes exactly two minutes apart. The Tommies bounced back, scoring two power play goals in the third period to draw within a goal. STU pulled goalie Charles Lavigne late in the game to get the tying goal, and gave up first one and then another empty net goal. UPEI outshot STU 42-27 in the 6-3 win.

Meanwhile back in Fredericton, bitter rivals UdeM and UNB locked horns. Moncton coach Serge Bourgeois said they made it a game plan to shut down Hunter Tremblay, and they did hold the V-Reds top line pointless, but UNB has more arrows in their quiver. Luke Lynes scored in the chippy first period and Moncton responded on the power play after a brouhaha broke out near the UdeM net which saw Moncton agitator Remi Gautreau and UNB d-man Ben Wright each pick up 14 minutes in penalties to lead the crowd to the box. The second and third periods UNB turned the other cheek and started to pull away from les Aigles Bleus, and yet only scored two more goals thanks to the fine goaltending by P.-A. Marion. The final score was 3-1 for UNB who outshot Moncton 38-23.

The next night on the Island, it didn’t go too much better for Moncton, who decided to give rookie goalie Andre-Michel Guay his first start. UPEI had the only goal in the first period, and Moncton scored shorthanded in the second to tie the game. The Panthers responded shortly after, only to see les Aigles Bleus tie it up yet again. Then Moncton’s edgy play caught up to them, as Christopher Guay took a double-minor and Matt Carter scored two power play goals less than a minute apart. UPEI’s Michael MacIsaac added two goals in the third period to sandwich a Moncton power play goal to make it a 6-3 final. UPEI outshot UdeM 39-24 in the game, including 22 shots on their nine power plays. Moncton didn’t go away quietly, as “something” happened at the end of regulation time, with Guillaume Parenteau and P.-A. Poulin each earning double-minors and ten-minute misconducts, plus teammate J.-P. Paquet got ten minutes, while UPEI’s Matthew Maione and Kris MacDonald each received two-and-tens.

Saturday night was also the second edition of the Battle of Halifax, with Dalhousie hosting SMU. I’ll let a knowledgeable friend, who posts as AUS Fan on HFBoards, describe the game:
I never thought I'd use the words DAL and entertaining on consecutive nights but it was entertaining. 1-1 after two periods, a scoreless third and a penalty filled OT with some good chances at both ends made up for missing the Parade of Lights in downtown Halifax. Both teams started OT 4-on-4, [Mike] Danton took a hooking penalty breaking up a scoring chance. DAL was penalized shortly after and play continued 3-on-3. Just as SMU was starting the PP after Danton's penalty expired, [Andrew] Hotham was called for tripping on a play where I thought the DAL player fell over his own feet. Back to 3-on-3 again where [Nicholas] Croft shook off Kyle Wharton and crossed in front of Conway to tip in [Ben] Breault's shot from the slot. I thought DAL had more jump in the latter part of the game and in OT. This has been a good weekend for the Tigers as they face UPEI and UNB at home next weekend and on the road to SFX the next week.
Shots in that game were 38-25 in favour of SMU and Croft scored the winner at 6:06 in the overtime period.

The weekend play ended on Sunday afternoon with the second installment of the Battle of the Hill, between cross-campus rival UNB and STU (although the rivalry is a bit stunted since the V-Reds came into the game riding a 24-game win streak against the Tommies, and 22 game win streak at the AUC). Sunday was all about Hunter Tremblay. Last year’s CIS MVP had been held pointless his last two games, and was stuck three points behind Rob Hennigar, a previous CIS MVP, for the career lead in regular season points at UNB. Well Tremblay delivered, scoring a hat trick to tie the school record, and stealing the limelight from goaltender Travis Fullerton who collected his second shutout of the season in the 4-0 win. UNB didn’t play a great 60 minutes, and coach Gardiner MacDougall called a timeout five minutes into the second period to get them back on plan, but they did smother the Tommies, who only managed 14 shots on goal against UNB’s 40 (not including the four shots UNB players rang off the iron).

It wasn’t all sunshine and roses for UNB. They’ve now gone three games without scoring a power play goal. Power forward Jeff Lee left the game in the first period with a leg or knee injury, and now joins three other starting forwards (Daine Todd, Taylor Prosychen, Dion Campbell) and two all-star defencemen (Luke Gallant, Ben Shutron) on the shelf. UNB’s vaunted depth has been put to the test, and they have not had a healthy scratch for several games, and they may need to dress assistant coach (and former McGill defenceman) Steve Pearce for their road trip to Nova Scotia next weekend. On the plus side, despite the key player losses UNB leads the CIS in only giving up 18 goals over 12 games, helped by only allowing an average 22.6 shots against per game. The next best are the two Huskies: Saint Mary’s (31 GA in 11 GP) and Saskatchewan (31 GA in 12 GP).

That being said, UNB is still in first place with 10 wins. The surprising Panthers, who I guess we have to sometime start taking for real, continue to stalk the V-Reds and maintain their hold on second place, three points back. SMU and StFX are four points further back and tied for third place, although the Huskies have a game in hand on everyone except St. Thomas. How close are the standings? Acadia and Dalhousie are tied for fifth place, and just one point back of fourth. Moncton is just one point out of the playoffs right now, and only STU is starting to slip away.
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