FREDERICTON: In today's exhibition hockey action at UNB's Aitken University Centre the Varsity Reds defeated their cross-campus rivals the St. Thomas Tommies 9-1 in the Pete Kelly Cup challenge.
The defending CIS Champions were quick to get on the scoreboard putting one past Tommies goaltender Alex St. Arnaud at 4:02 – an even strength goal by UNB senior Tim Priamo. Mike Thomas and Cam MacLise were credited with the assists.
UNB took a tripping penalty which forward Mike Thomas worked hard to kill and managed to get a pass off to line-mate Philippe Maillet. Maillet shot low to the back of the net and added one to UNB's tally with the short-handed goal at 7:50 - Thomas again with the assist. This would prove to be the game winning goal for the V-Reds.
The deficit quickly spread to three as UNB's Jordan Murray made it happen and V-Reds Critchlow and latest recruit Ben Duffy had the assists at the 14:12 mark.
The Tommies tried hard to get on the scoreboard when they went on the power-play as Critchlow took two for tripping. UNB's Charlie Lavigne denied the Tommies turning back a couple of quick shots. UNB killed the penalty and headed into the dressing room up 3-0.
The shots on goal at the end of 1st period were 13 for UNB while STU had 7.
As the second period began the Varsity Reds were quick to control the play in the STU zone and suddenly it was 4-0 with a top corner shot by Critchlow assisted by Maillet.
UNB continued the scoring fest as they made it five on a V-Reds power-play; MacLise moved the puck over to Thomas who banged it home into a wide open net.
STU again tried to create some energy on a 5 on 4 and then 5 on 3 power-plays but were unable to get past the versatile UNB defense.
Midway through the second UNB changed goaltenders as Lavigne and Vienneau changed places between the pipes.
Shots on goal at the end of the second were 22 for UNB and 17 for STU.
In the third four more goals were scored - the Tommies finally managed to put one on the scoreboard at 8:44 with a goal from Randy Cameron assisted by Spencer MacDonald and Colin Martin.
Just 25 seconds later UNB's Nesbitt answered with number seven for UNB. With six minutes and change left on the clock Shea Kewin grabbed a rebound off a Nesbit shot to make it 8-1. Less than a minute later Critchlow fired one into the top corner to make it 9-1.
Shots on goal after the third were 32 for UNB and 23 for STU.
Prior to the games' opening faceoff congratulations were extended by the more than 1,500 fans to the players and staff of the Gold Medal AUS All-Stars team who won Gold at the World University Games earlier in December.
"It's exciting to get back and to play hockey in December," said UNB bench boss Gardiner MacDougall who, along with associate coach Todd Sparks, has been away for three weeks at the WUG.
"It's a great time with the World Juniors on and we just finished up the FISU games; the guys were excited to get back."
Winning the Pete Kelly Cup is important to the Varsity Reds. "It's the ninth annual – an important tradition here at UNB to honour a former NHL player, a great coach and former athletic director," continued MacDougall.
"It's exciting to get back, there's a foundation set but we've got a lot of work to do. Full credit to them but we have a big week of practice coming up and a big weekend."
UNB will resume AUS regular season play on January 3rd as they travel to Halifax to take on the Saint Mary's Huskies followed by St. FX on January 4th.
Maureen Sparks, UNB Sports Information
Photo Credit, Brian Smith