V-Reds three-peat as AUS Champions

V-Reds three-peat as AUS Champions
For the third consecutive year, the University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds men's hockey team are Atlantic University Sport Champions.

The V-Reds shutout the Saint Mary's University Huskies 2-0 before a sold out crowd last night at the Aitken Centre in Fredericton, to win their fifth AUS championship under head coach Gardiner MacDougall.

"This series was really intense because it was three games quick," said MacDougall. "You have two teams that play very well and we're here for a reason. The key in this series was that the team that had the lead didn't give it up."

V-Reds forward Dion Campbell was named player of the game and scored his second of the series with 17 seconds left in the first period.

Cam Braes threw a pass from the corner into the slot, and Campbell made no mistake backhanding a shot five-hole on Huskies goaltender Anthony Peters.

Saint Mary's came out slow in the opening frame being outshot 15-3, but switched gears in the second with a 7-1 shot run to open the period.

The Huskies had three great chances at the end of the second and leading into the third, with UNB taking back-to-back-to-back penalties giving the Huskies six minutes worth of power plays in eight minutes over two periods.

But the V-Reds shot blockers stood out on the penalty kill, with Taylor MacDougall, Ben Shutron, and Josh Kidd all stepping in front of shots.

Late in the third Huskies forward Cory Tanaka broke his stick with UNB controlling the puck in SMU's zone. He went off for a line change, leaving Antoine Houde-Caron open in the slot to bury his first of the playoffs, with a circus-backhand beating Peters five-hole.

Tanaka had a great chance in the final minutes to make it a one-goal game again, and wristed a shot past V-Reds goaltender Dan LaCosta, but rang it off the post as LaCosta picked up his second shutout of the series.

LaCosta was named the most valuable player of the playoffs, and said this shutout to win the AUS championship is more meaningful to him than his NHL shutout against the Colorado Avalanche.

"To be honest, this is more gratifying just because of my teammates that I've had over the last two years," said LaCosta. "I've never played on a team like this where everyone's so close and it's what hockey's all about. It's a tight room, everybody cares about each other and that's why we're playing hard."

Huskies head coach Trevor Steinberg said while his team came out slow in the first, he was pleased with how they battled back in the third.

"After the first I thought our guys did exactly what they've always done," said Steinberg. "The mutts came back and started biting at their ankles and we almost made it happen. It hurts to have two goals like that scored and at the end where we have a few dings here, and a few scrambles there, but you can't wish for a miracle If we're going to have a miracle happen, I'd rather have it happen in Saskatoon."

Both teams will leave for the CIS University Cup next week in Saskatoon, SK, where play begins Thursday at 4 p.m. Atlantic Time.