The UNB Varsity Reds men's hockey team managed to hold on to first place in the AUS with a 2-1 victory over the Acadia Axemen in front of a paid attendance of 2538 at the Aitken University Centre.
It's the V-Reds' first win over the second-ranked Axemen this season. The Axemen have come out on top in each of the three previous match-ups, twice in overtime.
This time, UNB opened up the scoring at 15:01 in the first period when defenceman Jordan Murray snapped a shot that bounced past Acadia goalie Brandon Glover. It's Murray's seventh goal of the season.
It didn't take long for Acadia to tie it up in the second period, though. Less than a miute and a half into play, Mike Cazzola picked up loose puck right in front of the UNB net and fired it past UNB goalie David Shantz. The assists went to Alex Beaton and Brett Thompson. Cazzola is currently third in the AUS in points. This is his fourteenth goal of the season.
Cazzola's would be the only goal of the second period. UNB came close a bunch of times with some great chances during a five-on-three situation about six minutes in, but they couldn't beat Glover, who put in a fantastic performance keeping the puck out of the net.
A scoreless third period sent the game into overtime. But just under two minutes into extra time, Randy Gazzola managed to spin around and pick up a rebound to swipe the winner past Glover. Assists went to Cam Critchlow and Philippe Halley.
UNB head coach Gardiner MacDougall says he's pleased to finally pick up a win against such a strong team.
"You know any time you go up against a team like Acadia who are a real quality team," MacDougall said, "you know you are going to be in for a real challenge. So we just went out there to work hard and try to find a way to get to that win. And we found a way to do that out there tonight."
The Varsity Reds play next on Saturday, January 31, when they host Dalhousie at 7pm.
The Axemen now travel to Moncton to play les Aigles Bleus at the same time.
Photo courtesy of Brian Smith