Off the hop the Huskies were a far different team than that which lost a 10-3 exhibition game to the Varsity Reds back in September. Despite the humid conditions due to the unseasonably warm and wet weather it was a hard hitting affair Friday that saw the score tied 1-1 after one period, with UNB having a large margin in shots, 13-5. The teams exchanged goals in the second period (including the first power play goal UNB had given up in three games), and the V-Reds regained the lead on their own power play goal. Shots favoured SMU 13-6 in the second period. The third period was much better for UNB, as their top line finally got untracked when Hunter Tremblay scored just over five minutes in. That goal appeared to break the back of the Huskies, as UNB controlled the bulk of the remainder of the play, adding two more goals for the 5-2 win.
At the same time StFX were visiting UPEI, and got into penalty trouble early, and they were down 2-0 after the first period. In a back and forth second period the X-Men drew within a goal three times, before the Panthers scored three unanswered goals in the final period for the 7-3 win. UPEI was 4-for-10 on the power play while X was 1-for-5. The explosive Panthers offense was led by Matt Carter with 2 goals and 2 assists, Michael MacIssac with a goal and 3 assists, Brandon Biggers with a goal and 2 assists, and Mathew Benton with 3 assists.
In Wolfville, a wild first period saw UdeM and Acadia tied 3-3 after 20 minutes. After UdeM scored early in the second period to take the lead, Acadia scored four more times before Moncton got back on the scoresheet, and the teams traded goals in the third period as Acadia won 8-6. It was a good night for some poolies, as Acadia's Jonathan Laberge scored a hat trick and added 3 assists, while linemate Chris Bruton had 2 goals and an assist. For les Aigles Bleus Pier-Alexandre Poulin and Charles Bergeron each had a pair of goals while captain Dean Ouellet had a goal and 2 assists. The power play was key for Acadia, who went 4-for-9 while Moncton went 2-for-10 with the man advantage.
Finally on Friday, Saint Thomas almost stole a win from Dalhousie. STU was up two goals going into the third period, despite being outshot 32-21 at the time. Dal scored three goals in the third to take the lead. The Tommies pulled goalie Guillaume Miszczak (their third string goalie who was obviously having a whale of a game) in the final two minutes and Alex Labonte scored his second of the game with 44 seconds left to force overtime. The game went deep into overtime, 9:08, before Tigers rookie Pierre-Alexandre Vandall scored for the 6-5 win. Dal outshot STU 56-31 in the game.
So move on to Saturday, back in Fredericton, to the long awaited game between UNB and their playoff nemesis StFX. The X-Men were the better team for the first ten minutes, and had the early lead in the hard hitting, emotional game. UNB seized the momentum back on a strong penalty kill when rookie Nick MacNeil scored shorthanded at 11: 33. UNB's Chris Culligan broke open the tight game with a natural hat-trick that spanned just over 20 minutes of the first and second periods, surprisingly without an assist to normal linemate Hunter Tremblay. On the other hand, UNB captain Kyle Bailey had a goal and three assists. After two periods the extracurricular play looked like it was going to boil over, but fortunately both teams appeared to dial back the animosity during the second intermission. UNB had a strong start to the third period, added another goal, killed off a couple of penalties midway through the game, and then gave up a late power play goal to X in the 6-2 win. So round one of this mental battle goes to UNB.
For the Huskies, their weekend woes continued. Against UPEI they blew a two goal lead when the Panthers scored four unanswered goals to win 4-2, while being outshot 37-27 in the game. Michael MacIsaac continued his hot pace for UPEI, adding two goals to leap into the lead in the AUS points race while Corey Vitarelli had a goal and two assists, and his eight goals this season have him in a tie with StFX's Chris Hulit for the AUS goal scoring lead. Neither team could score on the power play in this game.
Acadia, on the other hand, continued their good weekend when Chris Bruton scored just 40 seconds into the game against STU netminder Charles Lavinge, fresh off a two-game suspension. STU tied it up just over four minutes later, but Acadia regained their lead on the power play at 7:27. The Axemen added a shorthanded and power play goal in the third period, and Bruton closed out the Acadia scoring in the third period for the 5-1 win. Shots were 32-18 in favour of Acadia who were 2-for-4 on the power play.
Moncton rebounded nicely from their wild Friday night, with captain Dean Ouellet scoring at 1:42 against the veteran Josh Disher. The two teams traded goals in the second period, rookie Kevin Charland extended the UdeM lead in the third period, and Ouellet added an empty netter for the 4-1 win.
UNB finishes the weekend solidly in first place, riding a seven game winning streak. Hot UPEI is four points back, followed in one point separations by StFX, Acadia, Moncton and then Saint Mary's tied with Dalhousie for sixth place. Just over a quarter into the season the standings are deceptive, as SMU has two games on hand on everyone ahead of them, and those four potential points could theoretically have the Huskies tied for second place. That's how tight the AUS is right now.
Next weekend looks to be a lot more of the same fun in the AUS, as the same combatants trade venues in these matched home and away weekends.