The second week of exhibition play has come and gone for AUS men's hockey, and now most of the teams are preparing for their annual American road trip weekends. Sure, off to the States where government workers (customs agents?) are sure to be a happy and co-operative bunch while wondering when they're going to get paid again.
UNB played mid-week in a mid-afternoon game against the AHL's Portland Pirates at their practice facility in Saco, Maine. This has become sort of an annual event, with the idea that the V-Reds would play the Pirates and then travel onto play whatever NCAA teams in New England they had lined up. The schedule didn't co-operate this year, so after losing 4-0 they had to bus back to Fredericton to host the Carleton Ravens on Friday. Of interest in the Portland game was that former UNB forward/d-man Daine Todd was playing defence for the Pirates while former X-Men defenceman Mark Louis plays forward (they apparently were short size when they signed him last year, so they converted the speedy 6'4" Louis to forward). The first scorer for Portland was Phillipe Halley, who was announced at one point this summer as a recruit for UNB (and obviously has decided to turn pro instead).
Carleton came out with a lot of jump and truculence Friday night against UNB, and after scoring the first goal the V-Reds took five straight selfish reactionary penalties and gifted the Ravens two 5-on-3 power play goals. UNB eventually hauled their heads out of their posteriors and took advantage of a Carleton penalty string in the second period to tie the game, and a beauty play by their big line in the third period to re-take the lead and then out-skate the flagging Ravens for the 3-2 win. V-Reds head coach Gardiner MacDougall made no bones to the fact that in the first period "Carleton was hungry on every puck and we had a sort of entitlement to us and we've got to be better than that."
Saturday night went better for the Ottawa visitors a few blocks away at the Grant-Harvey Centre, the St. Thomas rink. CU's Francis Dupuis made 26 saves in the 3-0 shutout win while STU's Jon Groenheyde was much busier (as he has become accustomed to) dealing with 44 shots. The Tommies didn't have the luxury of waiting at home for the Ravens; Friday night they were in New Glasgow, NS to play StFX and lost 4-1.
The other OUA team taking a swing through the Maritimes was the Brock Badgers. On Friday they were in Halifax to play Saint Mary's. After being down 4-0 at one point in the game, Brock used a bit of a Hail Mary style trick-play in the last minute to score just after their penalty ended, drawing within a goal. Eight seconds later they scored again to tie the game and effectively force overtime. The Badgers then went on to win the game 6-5 in OT*.
The Badgers were back in overtime on Saturday, this time against the Dalhousie Tigers in a game played in East Hants, NS. This time the visitors came up short, with Dal winning 2-1. The previous night Dal was over on the Island to play UPEI and were thumped 5-1.
The only other game saw Moncton play Acadia in Berwick, NS, and the Axemen squeezed out the 5-4 win.
Looking ahead, the Varsity Reds leave Wednesday for their first-ever trip to Colorado where they'll play an extended weekend of three games in three nights against NCAA opponents: Colorado College on Saturday, Denver University on Sunday and the Air Force Academy on Monday.
The Saint Mary's Huskies will be making their first trip in a while to the States; they play RPI on Saturday and Quinnipiac on Sunday. StFX spends the weekend in Boston and have BU on Saturday and BC on Sunday (arguably the toughest match-ups). Acadia is playing State schools: New Hampshire on Saturday and Vermont on Sunday. Dal has dance dates with Northeastern on Saturday and Maine on Sunday after first playing Carleton in Ottawa Friday night.
Not everyone in the AUS is heading to the States for the weekend. Thursday night Moncton hosts StFX (en route to the US) in Shediac, NB. UPEI makes the long trip to Thunder Bay for two games against Lakehead on Friday and Saturday. STU stays home and host RMC on Saturday night, which is sure to attract a bit of a crowd from down the road at CFB Gagetown.