Men's hockey: AUS Weekly Update

In only the second weekend of play in AUS men’s hockey there was understandably quite a shakeup in the standings. Now the usual suspects are back in the top spot, with Acadia, UNB and StFX all sitting in first with 3-1 records.

Tommies Open Shiny New Barn

STU had their home opening weekend at the brand new Grant•Harvey Centre (GHC), but it was unfortunately same-old, same-old on the ice. The city-built double-ice-surface facility cost just over $29 million to build, and St. Thomas contributed between one and two million bucks to get their own impressive dressing room suites, including a separate locker room for street clothes and a player lounge (similar for both the women’s and men’s teams), coaches’ offices, fitness area, etc. For the fans there is tons of paved and marked parking, just under 1500 comfortable seats with no impeded sightlines, a wide concourse surrounding the seats with lots of railbird space, beer tables in each corner of the rink (no need to smuggle in your booze anymore), and a glassed-in bubble for the media. What’s not to like?

Well, Friday as I was exiting the GHC I overheard one fan ruefully tell his buddy, “Great place to see a game if we had a little better game.” Too true. Acadia came to play, and defencman Chris Owens gets credit for the first-ever AUS (men’s) goal at the GHC when his shot from the blue line found the top corner past rookie netminder Jonathan Groenheyde at 4:30 of the first period. The home team’s first-goal honours go to Steven Sanza on the power play at 7:38 of the second period. (However, the first STU goal at the GHC was the weekend before, when Katie Brewster scored unassisted at 11:36 of the first period in a 4-2 win over Moncton. Brewster also scored the first goal the following night, also unassisted, in 5-0 win over Mount Allison).

The wheels soon came off for the Tommies after the Sanza goal, as the Axemen reeled off five unanswered goals, including a natural hat-trick for CIS player of the year Andrew Clark. Acadia never gave STU a sense that they had any chance of coming back. Groenheyde took a ten-minute misconduct late in the period when he reacted badly when an Acadia player came a little too close to his crease, and coach Troy Ryan took opportunity of the occasion to give the STU goalie the rest of the night off. Like his teammates. STU only managed three shots on goal in the third period.

Saturday Dalhousie was up 4-0 in the third before the Tommies finally scored. They did draw within two goals, but couldn’t manage the comeback against the next-worst team in the AUS. At least STU was getting the puck on net this game, and were in it all game, only being edged 35-34 in shots. All in all, a very disappointing weekend for the team, and their fans, in their new digs.

Friday: Acadia 7 @ STU 1
Saturday: Dal 5 @ STU 2

V-Reds back to winning ways 

Fredericton’s other team was in Nova Scotia for the weekend, and former Huskies captain Colby Pridham scored the first goal in his much anticipated return to the Halifax Forum. UNB had three more goals in the third period, but the real story Friday night was Dan LaCosta making 26 saves for his first shutout for the V-Reds. While it is early yet, the former pro goalie is looking more like what was expected of him, as compared to his injury plagued first season.

 LaCosta got the start again in Antigonish on Saturday. UNB had full control of this game when even-strength. The problem was that they took a string of penalties that provided opportunities for StFX to get back in the game. The X-Men had their own penalty troubles, as they seemingly went out of their way to target their former teammate Bryce Swan a little too aggressively. Offensively it was a breakout game for UNB’s strapping defenceman Chad Denny, who had two assists and then an impressive third period goal when he blasted the puck from halfway between the X blue line and centre ice and blew it right past Joey Perricone in the StFX nets. Denny only played eight games last season due to injuries, and is another V-Reds sophomore playing more like he was advertised when he arrived on campus.

Friday: UNB 4 @ SMU 0
Saturday: UNB 4 @ StFX 2

Acadia sends notice

After dismantling STU on Friday, the Axemen had a more even contest in Moncton. Les Aigles Bleus put on a big push in the third period to tie the game, and nothing was decided in the overtime. Acadia’s Brett Thompson and Alex Beaton had highlight-reel goals in the shootout to seize the win for the visitors. Interestingly, Andrew Clark was held off the score sheet. It is worth noting that Acadia’s only loss so far this season came opening night last weekend, when they outshot StFX 43-13, including 19-0 in the third period, but still lost 4-3. Defenceman Chris Owens sits atop the AUS scoring race with 3 goals and 6 assists.

Friday: Acadia 7 @ STU 1
Saturday: Acadia 3 @ UdeM 2 OT-SO

StFX hanging onto share of first place

The X-Men were undefeated going into that UNB game, thanks to a 3-2 overtime win over UPEI Friday night with rookie Brad Cuzner getting the unassisted game winner in extra time. Bright spots for X are the improved play of Perricone in nets, and rookie Cory McIntosh who has scored three goals in four games.

Friday: UPEI 2 @ StFX 3 OT
Saturday: UNB 4 @ StFX 2

Moncton may have found a goalie

Rookie goalie Adrien Lemay looked very good against UNB in his first start last weekend. Andre-Michel Guay, the veteran netminder who had played behind P.-A. Marion until this season, gave up three goals against Dal in the first 26 minutes of Friday’s game before giving way to Lemay. His teammates rallied, and UdeM earned a 6-4 comeback win. Eric Faille continued his hot hand offensively with 2 goals and 2 assists. Saturday Lemay got the start, and made 37 saves in that OT-SO loss to Acadia. One might expect the rookie to get more starts going forward.

Friday: Dal 4 @ UdeM 6
Saturday: Acadia 3 @ UdeM 2 OT-SO

50/50 weekend for the Huskies

Friday night SMU was blanked 4-0 by UNB, with their former captain scoring twice against them. Saturday they rebounded nicely by earning their own 4-0 win over UPEI, with Anthony Peters getting the shutout. There was a ton of penalties in this one; the Panthers were 0-for-11 on the power play while the Huskies were 2-for-11 with the man advantage.

Friday: UNB 4 @ SMU 0
Saturday: UPEI 0 @ SMU 4

Panthers have tough road trip 


Last weekend UPEI opened at home and won both games for a brief share of first place. Then they headed to Nova Scotia and suffered an overtime loss and a shutout and now find themselves tied for fifth place. Back to reality.

Friday: UPEI 2 @ StFX 3 OT
Saturday: UPEI 0 @ SMU 4

Dal looking better 

With the unwelcome off-ice attention last week due to general manager Pete Belliveau’s apparent dismissal, and a pending CIS regulation breach self-report, it was probably good for the Tigers to get out of Halifax. Dal had a third period lead over Moncton in their Friday loss, and they held onto their comfortable third period lead against STU on Saturday for their first win of the season. Dal is scoring goals, with Patrick Daley leading all AUS forwards with 4 goals and 4 assists in 4 games played.

Friday: Dal 4 @ UdeM 6
Saturday: Dal 5 @ STU 2

Next weekend 

In a break from the normal home and away weekly schedule, travel partners UPEI and UNB are back in Nova Scotia for the second weekend in a row, playing Acadia and Dalhousie. StFX and SMU will be in New Brunswick to each play STU and UdeM.
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