(FREDERICTON, N.B.) The UNB Varsity Reds scored three goals in the first 3:54 on route to a 6-3 win over the StFX X-Men, in Game 1 of the Subway AUS Men's Hockey Championship final series.
Cam Brace (Etobicoke, Ont.) opened the scoring just 53 seconds in, jamming a loose puck past X-Men netminder Chase Marchand (Halifax, N.S.).
"It was a great play by Alex Goulet. He brought it around the net, good puck protection, he tried to tuck it and then I just started jamming away and it happened to go in," said Brace.
Tyler Boland (St. John's, N.L.) beat Marchand 41 seconds later, and Stephen Anderson (Morell, P.E.I.) made it 3-0 at the 3:54 mark.
"We came out hard, we stuck to the system," said Brace. "We wanted to get on them right away and it worked."
"That's a tough hill to climb," said X-Men head coach Brad Peddle. "You're chasing the game four minutes in… a minute and a half in. Let's talk about the first minute and a half."
"From then it's catch-up. You can't expect to have a start like that and put yourself in a chance to win an important hockey game," said Peddle.
The X-Men halted the UNB run at 12:18 of the first period, when Bryson Cianfrone (Stoney Creek, Ont.) connected.
UNB re-established their three goal lead at 5:28 of the second period, on the power-play. Matt Boudens (Pembroke, Ont.) cut across the front of the net and beat Marchand.
About five minutes later, with UNB once again on the power-play, Sam Studnicka (Windsor, Ont.) took advantage of a Varsity Reds turnover, lifting a wrist shot over the shoulder of Alex Dubeau (Mascouche, Que.) for a short-handed goal.
But Olivier LeBlanc (Quebec City, Que.) restored the Varsity Reds' three goal lead 29 seconds later, as UNB worked the same power-play.
Matt Needham (Penticton, B.C.) gave X renewed hope when he scored late in the second to make it 5-3, but Brace would score his second of the night with just 16 seconds left in the period, once again pushing UNB ahead by three.
There was no scoring in the third period.
"Obviously, it wasn't the start we wanted," said St FX forward Mark Tremaine (Dartmouth, N.S.). "We just had to remind ourselves, last week against us, Acadia got five fast ones, so we kind of kicked ourselves a few times, we didn't respond. When we went out and got one, we let them get it back pretty quick."
The usually reliable X-Men power-play went 0-for-7, while UNB was 2-for-3 with the man advantage.
"Special teams are such a huge part of any playoffs," said Varsity Reds captain Dylan Willick(Prince George, B.C.). "Brad Good's been doing such a good job of pre-scouting and showing us the Xs and Os and the guys have been executing."
Game two of the best of three series goes Wednesday night, in Antigonish. Game time is 7 p.m.
"That's it, it's one game," said Peddle. "The one thing about playoffs, there are short memories. You move on."
"Our preparation is key now, in the next 48 hours, to continue to get better down in Antigonish," said Varsity Reds head coach Gardiner MacDougall.
If necessary, a deciding game in this series would be played Friday night, in Fredericton.
Source: Andy Campbell for UNB Athletics