Hockey: AUS Weekly Update

The AUS men’s hockey standings sure tightened up at the top end, with UNB out of first place for the first time in a long time (albeit just for two days). Moncton is pushing hard, and has the same number of wins as UNB. The Axemen are close on the heels of les Aigles Bleus, and Saint Mary’s and UPEI aren’t far behind. However SMU has played one more game than other top five teams. As always, or so it seems this season, goaltending is all important.

UNB salvages weekend

While the V-Reds had starter Dan LaCosta back between the pipes for the weekend, they had to dress one of their student trainers, Taylor Johnson, as the backup goalie Friday night. Johnson becomes the sixth goaltender to dress for UNB this season, and he last played competitive hockey at the midget level. Third-string goalie Matt Davis was back on the bench Saturday while UNB’s regular goalie, two-time CIS champ Travis Fullerton, is expected back after Christmas as he recovers from that emergency appendectomy from a couple of weeks ago.

LaCosta played fine this weekend, even though UNB lost to the opportunistic Panthers on the Island Friday, blowing an early lead. Granted the V-Reds received what appeared to be a disproportionate amount of chintzy penalties in the game with two refs on the ice, but when I look at UNB’s two losses to UPEI this season I feel that the V-Reds players have perhaps not respected the offensive skills of their opponent as much as they should. The loss, and the Moncton win, put UdeM temporarily ahead of UNB in the standings. That was until Sunday afternoon, when les Aigles Bleus and the V-Reds faced off in a battle for first place. After a somewhat tentative first period, UNB put the hammer down midway through the period and it was only Moncton goalie P-A Marion that kept them in the game. UNB didn’t solve him until their 41st shot in the third period, and after that the struggling V-Reds power play finally came through with a big goal for the winner.

Friday – UNB 2 @ UPEI 3
Sunday – UdeM 1 @ UNB 2


Moncton flirts with first place

Les Aigles Bleus are still missing some key forwards. Christian Gaudet is still out with concussion symptoms from that head shot from STU’s Chris Van Laren on November 5. The play is now up on YouTube. Van Laren’s high hit looks pretty blatant and deserved of the match penalty, while the retaliatory two-handed slash by Alex Quesnel looks less deserving of his match penalty. Both players got automatic four games for the match penalties. Moncton protested and Van Laren’s suspension was increased to six games, including the interesting sidebar that he cannot burn any of the suspension games by sitting out STU exhibition games over the holidays. In the Moncton paper UdeM coach Serge Bourgeois is looking for even MORE games against Van Laren. I dunno, six is pretty severe for the AUS.

Moncton’s rematch against STU on Friday didn’t turn into a gong show, which is good. They came back from a two-goal first period deficit and managed to score a late goal and get the win. As mentioned above, Sunday afternoon didn’t go as well, although goaltender Marion did his very best to steal a win, with the help of his teammates who for the most part did a good job of minimizing good second shot chances for the V-Reds. Still, they were outshot 44-16 and dominated territorially.

Friday – UdeM 3 @ STU 2
Sunday – UdeM 1 @ UNB 2


Acadia gains ground

The Axemen had the best weekend of the top-three teams, gaining on both UNB and UdeM ahead of them. They beat the two Halifax teams by the same score. Granted winning against Dal this season is unfortunately no big deal, but the Huskies are looking more like their old selves. The Acadia special teams killed off all 13 penalties on the weekend while their power play was 2-for-11.

Friday – Acadia 4 @ Dal 2
Saturday – Acadia 4 @ SMU 2


Huskies showing improvement

Veteran goalie Neil Conway hasn’t been having his best season so far, but he played well against StFX on Friday, and his teammates gave him three straight goals in the second period to take the pressure off. Conway didn’t have as good a night or get as much support the next night against Acadia.

Friday – SMU 5 @ StFX 1
Saturday – Acadia 4 @ SMU 2


UPEI finally gaining ground

Don’t look now, but the Panthers are showing some consistency and have a three-game winning streak. After the fine play of rookie goalie Mavric Parks helped slay the Red ‘n Black dragon for the second time Friday, the Panthers gave veteran Jhase Sniderman a rare start Saturday and he managed to get the win against the Tommies.

Friday – UNB 2 @ UPEI 3
Saturday – STU 3 @ UPEI 6


X-Men still in hangover mode? Still?

Can’t be fun for coach Brad Peddle to watch his team, and particularly his goaltending, struggle this season. After that thumping by SMU, StFX was handed the gift of Dal, who consistently serve as the solution to everyone’s losing streaks this season. Rookie Morgan Clark took the loss to the Huskies, and Joey Perricone got the start, and win, against Dal. Perricone was the team MVP last season, and carried the X-Men all the way to Nationals, yet that win on Saturday was only his second of the season thus far. Not very MVP-like to say the least.

Friday – SMU 5 @ StFX 1
Saturday – Dal 3 @ StFX 5


Harsh reality for Tommies: AUS is tough.

Friday night STU blew a two-goal lead, but were still 83 seconds from at least earning a point when Moncton sniper Marc-Andre Cote scored. Saturday in Charlottetown, Island native Randy Cameron (and one-time UPEI recruit) scored a natural hat-trick but it wasn’t enough compared to the Panthers more balanced attack.

Friday – UdeM 3 @ STU 2
Saturday – STU 3 @ UPEI 6


Nightmare won’t end for Tigers

The losing streak is now up to ten games. Dal gets off to decent starts, but so far this season they’ve been outscored a combined 50-16 in the second and third periods of games. Shots wise, they don’t look so bad, averaging 27.4 shots per game compared to their opponents’ 33.5. The third-string goalie, rookie Philip Wright, took both losses on the weekend and Bobby Nadeau is still out. I don’t see events getting any better for the Tigers until one of their goalies can start making some big saves, especially in the latter half of games.

Friday – Acadia 4 @ Dal 2
Saturday – Dal 3 @ StFX 5


The first half is winding down. UNB finally gets to play cross-campus rival STU on Friday, while SMU is at Dal and Acadia is at X. On Saturday there is one game – UPEI at Moncton. On Sunday StFX is at Acadia.
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