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Varsity Reds top Tigers in thriller

Photo courtesy of Trevor MacMillan
Photo courtesy of Trevor MacMillan

(HALIFAX) – The U Sports number one ranked team UNB Varsity Reds (24-2-3) skated to a 6-4 victory over the Dalhousie Tigers (8-18-3) in AUS action on Saturday night at the Halifax Forum. The 200 fans in attendance were on the edge of their seat for the majority of the game as the two teams combined for a total of ten goals.

The UNB Varsity Reds opened up the scoring 5:16 into the first period. An ensuing scramble in front of the Tigers net allowed Cam Braes (Shawinigan Lake, BC) to chip the Philippe Maillet (Terrebonne, QC) pass over the unaware Dalhousie goalie Joe Gladnick (Philadelphia, PA).

The Varsity Reds didn't take their foot off the gas pedal as they widened their lead at 9:35. Stephen Anderson (Morell, PE) received a pass from Christopher Clapperton (Cap Espoir, QC) before snapping a top shelf rocket from the slot.

The Tigers looked to weather the Varsity Reds storm by getting on the board themselves. Fabian Walsh (Gloucester, ON) first time shot got the Tigers first of the game just two minutes after the UNB goal.

A Varsity Reds delay of game penalty at 16:51 allowed the Tigers to knot the contest with two goals apiece. The goal was credited to Andrew Wigginton (Sackville, NS) who attempted a pass to his Tiger teammate but multiple fortunate deflections off of two UNB skates allowed for the puck to cross the goal line as goalie Etienne Marcoux (Terrebone, QC) helplessly slid post-to-post in the opposite direction.

The Tigers and Varsity Reds came out flying into the second period as both teams generated quality offensive opportunities.

UNB regained the lead 5:36 into the period. Philippe Maillet added to his nation leading 52 points as he finished off the odd man rush with Christopher Clapperton (Cap Espoir, QC) getting the assist. 

The Tigers again pushed to even up the game, they had a great opportunity to do just that when Alex Pawelczyk (Detroit, MI) received a cross crease pass before unleashing a shot that was met with a spectacular sprawling glove save from Marcoux.

Despite the pressure from the Tigers, the Varsity Reds would be the team that would add to their goal count with a power play goal from Braes. Cam Breas was able to tip the Anderson point shot past the screened Gladnick for his second of the night.

Dalhousie was once again unfazed by the two goal lead they faced as they narrowed the UNB lead to just one with a short handed goal from Phil Gadoury (Montreal, QC). Gadoury and Walsh would combine with several passes before burying the two-on-one opportunity.

The third period demonstrated the same energy as first two frames as the two teams went back and forth scoring three goals combined in the period.

The Tigers carried their confidence from the second period into the last frame, once again erasing a two-goal deficit just two minutes in. Felix Page (Montreal, QC) received the Tanner Williams (Iroquois, ON) pass at the lip of the UNB crease before maneuvering to his backhand where he was able to slide the puck into the open net.

Dalhousie controlled the play for a period of five minutes as they generated multiple grade A scoring opportunities. But an expiring Tigers power play allowed Philippe Halley (Quebec City, QC) to leave the box, putting the Varsity Reds on an odd man rush where Halley was able to exchange passes with Randy Gazzola (Thorold, On) before finishing off the play himself.

Cam Critchlow (Summerside, PE) would add an empty net goal, which sealed the win for the Varsity Reds.

The Tigers resilience demonstrated throughout the game just fell short in the third period as they were unable to overcome the deficient for a third time.

The Tigers are back in action February 10 as they host the Acadia Axemen in their final home game of the year, while the UNB Varsity Reds finish off their season February 11 at UPEI.