They may have been teammates in Italy but it was clear that everyone was back on their own team tonight as UNB and UPEI faced off at the Aitken Centre to a 4-2 win for UNB.
At the puck drop opening ceremony UNB paid tribute to the student-athletes and coaches that went to the World University Games in Italy in December where they won the Gold Medal for Canada.
The Panthers, on the power play, were quick off the mark as Dana Fraser put one past UNB's Charlie Lavigne just 6:57 into the first period. Tyler Brown and Reggie Traccitto were credited with the assists.
At the close of the first period score was 1-1.
Lavigne faced 14 shots while PEI's Mavric Parks faced 8.
As the second period got underway the more than 2,000 fans saw some rough stuff by both teams. It was definitely a night for the special teams.
UNB had some chances mid-way through the second period as PEI got the third, fourth and fifth penalties of the game. The Panthers were relentless in their fore-checking, but finally a golden opportunity came for UNB with a 5 on 3 advantage and once again Murray swept in to score his second goal of the game at 9:59. Maillet and Culligan were credited with the assists.
The game got rough and several penalties came out of a scrum ending with two Varsity Reds and two Panthers in their respective sin bins with coincidental minors. Parks stood tall against a big shot from Shutron as UNB continued to drive to the net. Another melee broke out with 2:09 remaining in the second; both teams again took coincidental minors.
With a little over a minute left on the clock the Panthers managed to tie it up as Fraser snapped one from the point for his second goal of the night. Harrison McIver and Reggie Traccitto.
Shots on goal at the end of the second were even at 22 with six penalties to UPEI and five to UNB.
At the 17:54 mark PEI's Alex Wall was assessed two minutes for holding and UNB took full advantage, newcomer Philippe Halley scoring with assists from Cam Braes and Keevin Cutting. It was UNB's third power- play goal of the night, bringing the score to 4-2.
UNB bench boss Gardiner MacDougall thought that special teams were the difference maker this night and had this to say about their win.
"A huge win for the group. After the weekend you find ways to improve – we wanted to improve our power play; that was key – a couple of goals by Jordan - but the whole unit played much better and was the difference maker for us."
"Our penalty kill's been our strength all year and we had some huge kills in the third. Find timely goals. We had some big saves from our goaltender. All the little ingredients that are important to a big victory for our group," continued MacDougall.
Shots on goal in the UNB 9 to UPEI 11. Total shots 33 UPEI and 31 UNB.
The Varsity Reds are on the road tomorrow as they take on Moncton at 7:00 pm at the Aréna J.-Louis-Lévesque in Moncton. The game will be live on www.AUStv.ca
Maureen Sparks, UNB Sports Information
Photo Credit: Brian Smith