FREDERICTON: Thursday night, UNB Varsity Reds men's hockey coach Gardiner MacDougall repeated what he said a year ago when his team last played the Saint Mary's Huskies in the playoffs: "We have a series."
Cam Braes scored a pair, Nick MacNeil assisted on both and added a goal of his own, and Phil Halley and Cam Critchlow each scored as UNB took Game 2 of the Subway AUS semi -finals 5-2 to tie the best-of-five series at one apiece.
The V-Reds solved SMU net minder Anthony Peters - who stopped 50 shots the night before in a double-overtime win - by crashing the net and scoring from around the crease and Braes said it was all part of the game plan.
"He's a great goaltender in this league and he's capable of stealing games," Braes said. "We just wanted a little more traffic in net and make it a little harder for him. With any goalie, whenever you bring pressure to the net and shoot for his pads, he'll give up some rebounds."
Braes and Halley each scored within two minutes apart midway through the first off said rebounds, and Braes scored his second with 1:35 to go in the frame - another garbage goal - as UNB led 3-0 going into the first intermission.
Critchlow stretched UNB's lead six minutes into the second, off a give-and-go with Tyler Carroll.
After Ryan Hillier got SMU on the board after forcing a neutral zone turnover and sniping a wrister top corner on V-Reds goalie Charlie Lavigne, MacNeil restored the four-goal lead on a second-chance opportunity off the side of the SMU net.
Stephen Johnston scored the lone goal of the third period on the power play, but it was too little too late. Head coach Trevor Stienburg said UNB didn't do much differently; his team just didn't do what they had to.
"They just capitalized on their opportunities. Our first period, we made some blundering mistakes," Stienburg said. "They played well. Two of their goals they just had guys standing in front of the net pounding away at rebounds and they got it. There's nobody to blame but ourselves."
Lavigne stopped 18 shots for his first career AUS playoff win, while Chris Culligan moved into second in V-Reds all-time career points ahead of former V-Red Rob Hennigar.
The series now shifts to Halifax for Game 3 on Friday night.
Nick Murray for UNB Sports Information
Photo Credit: Brian Smith