The UNB Varsity Reds men's hockey team did their best to come back from a three-goal deficit after the first period, but they were bested by the Saint Mary's Huskies 4-3 in front of a large home crowd.
It was a match-up everyone had been looking forward to, with the nationally second-ranked Varsity Reds and fourth-ranked Huskies being tied for first in the AUS and both on multiple game winning streaks.
SMU opened up the scoring eight minutes into the first period. Stephen Johnston had the goal with an assist to Steven Trojanovic and Jamie Doornbosch. It is Johnston's tenth goal of the season. He is currently third in the CIS for goals scored thus far.
SMU would take back the momentum and widen the lead close to 13 minutes in when Ben Duffy managed to steal the puck from Matt Petgrave in UNB's own end and turned a short breakaway into a clean beat of V-Reds netminder David Shantz. Duffy redshirted last year with the Varsity Reds.
With just three minutes left in the first, a quick scramble in front of the UNB net brought the Huskies their third goal. Bradley Greene snuck one under Shantz's pads, and at the end of the first period the Huskies found themselves up 3-0 with only four shots on goal to UNB's nine.
The Varsity Reds found their feet again in the second, and Peter Trainor got UNB on the board when he fired off a quick shot around four minutes in. It's Trainor's fifth goal of the season. Assists went to Petgrave and Randy Gazzola.
SMU answered back not long after when Trojanovic got one between Shantz's pads off an assist from Steven Shipley and Matt Tipoff.
The V-Reds came out in the third determined to maintain some momentum and take control of the game. The chances kept coming, but it wouldn't be until minute 16 that Matt Boudens would connect the dots and land UNB's third goal with an assist from Cameron Brace and Cam Braes.
That would be the last time the puck would land in the net, and the game would end with the Huskies winning 4-3.
UNB head coach Gardiner MacDougall says although there were definitely times when the team had some solid momentum, there's no doubt they put themselves behind the eight ball ending the first period down three goals.
"Sometimes it can be a cruel game, and sometimes you gotta earn what you get," MacDougall said.
"When you're playing a top notch team, and you go down three goals... We climbed the mountain and we got two-thirds of the way there. We had some chances, but there's lessons to be learned. Probably the biggest lesson is our response, and we'll see where we're going to be tomorrow."
The Varsity Reds' record now moves to 8-2-1. The Huskies are currently at 9-1-1 with a six-game winning streak.
UNB plays next on Saturday, November 15, when they host Acadia at 7pm.
SMU travels to Moncton where they will play les Aigles Bleus at the same time.
Photo courtesy of Brian Smith.