(FREDERICTON, N.B.) – The UNB Varsity Reds have advanced to the Subway AUS final series and secured a place at the CIS national championship after winning Game Five of the semi-final 6-3 against the StFX X-Men. UNB will now face the Acadia Axemen for the AUS championship, while the X-Men will prepare for the nationals themselves, being guaranteed a spot as tournament hosts.
UNB was the first team to get on the board in a chippy first period. Dana Fraser (Tatamagouche, N.S.) scored the goal on a one timer slap-shot that slid just under the pad of Drew Owsley (Lethbridge, Alta.) It was looking like UNB would run away with game after Brad Cuzner (Glace Bay, N.S.) was ejected from the game for an illegal hit, putting the Varsity Reds on a five minute Power Play. It was StFX, however, who capitalized on the opportunity, with Adam Stevens (Bedford, N.S.) scoring a beautiful goal on a shorthanded breakaway. Philippe Maillet (Lachenaie, Que.) would add another for UNB and the period ended 2-1.
The first goal of the second came when Cam Critchlow (Fredericton, N.B.) joined an odd-man rush out of the penalty box and sniped a one-time pass that beat Owsley. This would be the first of four goals in a ten minute span as UNB and StFX traded chances ferociously.
"It's our biggest asset," said defensemen Alex Wall (St. John's, Nfld.) about UNB's speed. "We like to jump up in the rush and create space for our forwards. That's what we got to keep doing, just keep skating."
The third period slowed down with both teams playing more conservatively as neither wanted to give up the next goal. UNB managed to extend their lead after a great defensive play from Jordan Murray (Moncton, N.B.) that led to a goal from Matt Boudens (Pembroke, Ont.). The Varsity Reds would add an empty netter to finish the game 6-3.
Subway Player of the Game was V-Red Alex Wall, who set up the first goal for UNB and had an outstanding defensive game, ending with a plus-minus of +4.
Despite giving up five goals, StFX Goalie Drew Owsley had a great game consisting of 34 saves. Owsley has been consistently solid for the X-Men throughout entire series.
"Drew has been outstanding for us," said StFX head coach Brad Peddle. "I'm really proud of how this guy has played in the series. He showed lots of fight, and that's what you need in the playoffs."
StFX will get some time off as they automatically qualify for the CIS championship as hosts of the tournament.
UNB had pictures of the number one posted all over their dressing room for the final game of the series.
"It's like the James Bond movies, we could tell you but [then] we'd have to kill you," head coach Gardiner MacDougall joked when asked what the number one meant to the team. "If the mind is alert, the feet are light and I thought we had a lot of alert players tonight. I thought we responded really well, we had a lot of our top players playing really well, but I thought it was a group effort. We talk about one, you have to be 'one' as a group and that's what it was tonight, it was one game."
UNB will take on the Acadia Axe-Men in a best-of-three AUS final series. Both Teams automatically qualify for the CIS championship which means the teams will be playing for bragging rights and an AUS banner.
Rob Trites for UNB Sport Communications
Photo courtesy of Brian Smith