Hockey: AUS Weekly Update

Well this week the AUS standings got even more bunched up. UNB reclaimed first place, while Saint Mary’s, Acadia and Moncton are all now tied for second place, with UPEI just two points back of the pack. StFX continues to flirt with missing the playoffs with Dalhousie and St. Thomas charging hard.

UNB is a different team with Fullerton in nets 

Travis Fullerton, with his knee taped and braced, made his successful return to the V-Reds net this weekend, and came away with two wins, only giving up three goals – all versus the opposition’s power play. He wasn’t overworked, facing 14 shots Friday and 13 Saturday. And his last previous game on Dec. 2 after he came back from appendectomy surgery? 17 shots. Meanwhile during his absence, Dan LaCosta (with the bad groin) and Matt Davis (emergency third string goalie) have faced a combined average of 27.7 shots per game in the first seven games of the second half. You’d think the V-Reds would play tighter defensively in front of their #2 and #3 goalies, yet you’d be wrong. Go figure. The only explanation I could get from some UNB players is that they feel more comfortable/confident playing in front of Fullerton.

As for the games themselves, UNB was jacked to play the-then first place Acadia on Friday, and it showed. The Axemen? Pretty flat. The score is fairly indicative of the play. Saturday Dalhousie played very well, although the V-Reds had the clear edge in even-strength play. It was an entertaining game to watch in front of a sell-out crowd of 3650, including over a thousand invited elementary school kids. UNB's warm-and-cold power play was good on Friday on the rush and back to bad on Saturday. As for positives, V-Reds veteran centre Chris Culligan quietly picked up 6 assists on the weekend.

Friday – Acadia 1 @ UNB 7 
Saturday – Dal 2 @ UNB 3 OT 

Huskies are humming

Only a hot STU goalie made Friday’s game close (shots were 43-20), while Saturday Saint Mary’s special teams went to work scoring two shorthanded and two power play goals in dominating Moncton (40-24 in shots). Captain Colby Pridham had the “one of each” hat trick vs. UdeM (even strength, power play and shorthanded goal) while rookie netminder Anthony Peters earned the shutout. Pridham was named the SMU and AUS male athlete of the week.

Friday – STU 2 @ SMU 3 OT 
Saturday – UdeM 0 @ SMU 5

Acadia hanging in 

Okay, for a first place team the Axemen did not look very good against UNB on Friday, and played what coach Darren Burns labelled “their worst game of the season.” The V-Reds playing very well made it look worse. Saturday they bounced back with three third-period goals to tie the game against UPEI, but the Panthers got the winner early in OT.

Friday – Acadia 1 @ UNB 7 
Saturday – Acadia 3 @ UPEI 4 

Moncton still in hunt for bye, but …

Friday les Aigles Bleus scored two power play goals and held on for a win against the X-Men. Then Saturday they laid an egg in the battle for second place against the Huskies. They gave up two shorthanded goals in the first period and went 0-for-7 on the power play. Wouldn’t like to be on the bus ride home after that game.

Friday -- UdeM 3 @ StFX 2 
Saturday – UdeM 0 @ SMU 5 

Panthers prowling on the Island

While UPEI may be in fifth place in the standings, they are only two points back of the logjam in second place and just four points back of UNB (who they have beat three times this season). Only UNB has scored more goals than UPEI this season. Friday that offence didn’t get going until the third period, when they scored four unanswered goals against Dal. Saturday they blew a three-goal lead, but defenceman Reggie Traccitto got the winner in OT.

Friday – Dal 2 @ UPEI 4 
Saturday – Acadia 3 @ UPEI 4 

X-Men barely hanging onto playoff spot 

Is it panic time in Antigonish yet? StFX is now only one point ahead of surging Dal for the last AUS playoff spot and the X-Men have only six wins this season. To be fair, they’ve been in a lot of one-goal games this season, and unlike McGill, they’re not winning the close game. Their last five games have all been decided by one goal, two in overtime, and StFX only won once. As a matter of fact, the X-Men have been in 13 one-goal games this season (counting empty netters) and only won two. Two. They’re 1-and-4 in overtime games, with the sole winner coming in a shoot out against UNB a couple of weeks ago.

Friday they gave up two PP goals to Moncton and only managed to score once. Saturday they did mount a furious pushback against a hot Tommies goalie, and did tie the game in the third period, but had no luck in the ten-minute overtime and in the shootout the teams went five shooters deep before STU won it.

Friday – UdeM 3 @ StFX 2 
Saturday – STU 2 @ StFX 1 OT-SO 

Tigers not as hot now, but still in hunt

Dalhousie is hitting a bit of a slide again, but fortunately StFX ahead of them are having their own troubles. Friday the Tigers got off to a good start on the Island, but they couldn’t hold off the Panthers in the third period. Saturday they played pretty well and took advantage of their power play opportunities to tie the V-Reds, twice, despite being outshot 27-13 in regulation. Overtime on the other hand was all UNB and their eventual victory seemed inevitable.

Friday – Dal 2 @ UPEI 4 
Saturday – Dal 2 @ UNB 3 OT

Down but not out

Thanks to back-to-back stellar performances by their two goaltenders, St. Thomas is showing that they want to stay in the hunt for the last playoff berth. Friday rookie Justin Collier made 40 saves, 4 in OT, before Chris MacKinnon finally scored at 6:03 of the extra period to complete the comeback for Saint Mary’s. Saturday was that tight game against StFX with veteran Charles Lavigne making 40 saves in 70 minutes of play. The overtime shootout hero for STU was Yuri Cheremetiev, who along with Robert Zandbeek beat SMU’s Morgan Clark.

Friday – STU 2 @ SMU 3 OT 
Saturday – STU 2 @ StFX 1 OT-SO

This week

This is another of those weeks where the dance partners are the same and only the venue has changed. In the battle for one and two in the standings, and the first round playoff byes, Friday’s UNB @ Acadia and Saturday’s SMU @ UdeM matchups are probably the games to watch. In the battle for sixth place and the last playoff spot, the key game may be Saturday’s StFX @ STU game.
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