Hockey: AUS Weekly Update

No team won two games this past weekend (and yes, SMU and StFX only had one game each), so there is no big winner in the AUS. No. 1 ranked UNB saw their win streak ended at seven games, so we won't have to worry about that any longer -- now we can just turn our focus to their goalie and power play soap opera! Moncton came back to earth a bit**, and Acadia and Saint Mary's seem to be returning to form. StFX might have shrug off what ails them and UPEI continues to be cold and hot. STU is improving, and Dal, well Dal is probably counting the days to the Christmas break.

**UPDATE! I apologize. I meant to mention, and forgot until now when I was reminded of it, about a serious incident in the Moncton-STU game. UdeM's leading scorer Christain Gaudet received a hit to the head from Tommies d-man Chris Van Laren. Gaudet's teammate Alex Quesnel retaliated by chopping down Van Laren. Van Laren and Quesnel both received match penalties which could mean four game suspensions each. Gaudet is being monitored for post-concussion symptoms. The Moncton Times&Transcript has the story here.

My kingdom for a goalie.

The big news from UNB on the weekend normally would have been their CIS-leading winning streak halted at seven games. This was overshadowed by the news that veteran goaltender Travis Fullerton, who was leading the AUS with a goals against average of 2.06 and a perfect 5-0 record, went to the hospital Thursday night in some discomfort and had an emergency appendectomy operation on Friday. The V-Reds other starting goaltender, Dan LaCosta has not played since leaving a game after two periods on October 15 against Saint Mary's with a “groin tweak”. In response Friday morning UNB head coach Gardiner MacDougall scrambled and added hometown goalies Matt Davis and Seamus Bowen to the roster in relief. Davis played three seasons for cross-campus rival St. Thomas Tommies in 2006-09 before graduating and transferring to UNB to study for his MBA while Bowen is a first year student who played last season for Fredericton High School and this year is playing for the Junior B team in Fredericton Junction. Friday night Davis got the start in nets and Bowen was on the bench in Moncton. When LaCosta went down another local Junior B goalie, Mike MacLean, was activated to be the guy on the bench, and he was back in that role Saturday night.

Along with their returning defence, tops in the CIS last year, goaltending was supposed to be a strength at UNB this year. Underrated Fullerton has already backstopped UNB to two CIS titles, but he still shoulders a perhaps disproportionate amount of blame for the V-Reds playoff meltdown against StFX in the AUS playoffs in 2010 after a near-perfect 27-1 regular season. LaCosta was a third round pick by Columbus in 2004, and got two NHL wins (including a shutout) for the Blue Jackets in 2008-09, but a combination of bad timing, bad luck and illness had him out of the AHL after the 2009-10 season. After redshirting last season he was supposed to complement, and push, Fullerton this season. And he’s played a grand total of two periods so far in conference play. Now they’re both out of the lineup and Matt Davis is the go-to guy. Online personality STUTommies has wryly pointed out on Twitter that Davis has never won a game at the Aitken University Centre, and that streak continued Saturday night after a big win Friday in Moncton. To be fair, Davis was hung out to dry too many times in the loss to UPEI, much like his last season at St. Thomas. Oh, the nightmares he might be having …

Friday – UNB 6 @ Moncton 3
Saturday – UPEI 5 @ UNB 4


Moncton gets their wings clipped

The scene was set Friday night perfectly for les Aigles Bleus, riding a five-game win streak and with arch-nemesis Varsity Reds in the house and forced to rely on an emergency third-string goalie. Then UdeM went out and only put 4 shots on Matt Davis in the first period and another 4 shots in the second period. How to test that goalie. Some credit must be given to UNB’s puck possession game, but still. UdeM put a push on in the third period, and did tie the game for a spell, but UNB came roaring back. They had a better start and finish against St. Thomas on Saturday, with 11 shots in the first period and 14 shots in the second.

Friday – UNB 6 @ Moncton 3
Saturday – STU 2 @ Moncton 4


Acadia bouncing back

The Axemen rebounded nicely this week after dropping both games last weekend. Friday night they outshot Saint Mary’s 20-9 in the first period and 45-26 in regulation, but the game had to be decided in an overtime shootout, and it was the Huskies coming away with the win. Still Acadia got a point. Saturday night it was their turn to host struggling Dalhousie and they cruised to a 5-1 win.

Friday – SMU 6 @ Acadia 5 OT-SO
Saturday – Dal 1 @ Acadia 5


Saint Mary’s back at .500

The Huskies only had the one game on the weekend, but it was a biggee. Down by a goal in the second period, Brad Smith scored two goals to put the Huskies in a lead until Andrew Clark tied it for the Axemen in the third period. Then it was Smith who scored the shootout winner. Smith, who is best known for banging in the rebound overtime winner in the CIS championship game against Alberta in 2010, only had two goals in 21 regular season games last season. Rookie Huskies goalie Anthony Peters made 47 saves for the win.

Friday – SMU 6 @ Acadia 5 OT-SO

Continued inconsistency for Panthers

Friday night UPEI went 1-for-9 on the power play and saw St. Thomas score four unanswered goals in the third period, albeit the last two were empty netters. Saturday they bounce back and get their first road win and score on their first three power plays and go 4-for-8 on the night , plus kill off all five UNB power plays, including a 5-on-3. It didn’t hurt that goalie Mavric Parks made 39 saves in what coach Forbie MacPherson called a “AAA+ performance”.

Friday – UPEI 3 @ STU 6
Saturday – UPEI 5 @ UNB 4


Easy weekend for X-Men

Like Saint Mary’s, StFX only had one game on the weekend, and it was the current cure for every AUS losing streak – Dalhousie. They got ahead early and cruised after that. Not much more to say.

Friday -- Dal 2 @ StFX 7

Tommies rebuild shows more progress

So Friday the Tommies won their second game in a row. A nice stepping stone on the rebuild. Brad Gallant scored two goals in ten seconds to tie and then take the lead halfway through the third period and their penalty kill was excellent (or the Panthers power play was inept, or a combination of both). Saturday didn’t go so well as they had to deal with an angry Moncton still smarting from the UNB loss.

Friday – UPEI 3 @ STU 6
Saturday – STU 2 @ Moncton 4


No good news for Dalhousie

Dal is now in a last place tie with STU, and have scored 9 less goals and given up 12 more goals than the Tommies in eight games played. Not good. Veteran goalie Bobby Nadeau was taken out after just 9:15 in the first period against StFX on Friday, and he was still tagged with the loss. Rookie Wendell Vye took over in relief, and was the starter Saturday, but he had no more success than Nadeau. Coach Pete Belliveau is missing a number of key skaters due to injury and academic workload. Not a fun time.

Friday -- Dal 2 @ StFX 7
Saturday – Dal 1 @ Acadia 5
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