(CHARLOTTETOWN, PE) The UNB Varsity Reds went into hostile territory Monday, and delivered the final blow to the UPEI Panthers, to advance to the AUS final.
UNB silenced the home crowd early, and stormed away with a 4-0 win, sweeping the Panthers in the best-of-five semi-final series.
"I know how well UPEI plays at home in front of an enthusiastic crowd, so the key going in was having a good start," said Varsity Reds head coach Gardiner MacDougall.
UNB came in determined to end the series, having learned their lesson last year, when they surrendered a 2-0 series lead to the St. FX X-Men.
"A lot of those players got a second chance to do a better job here in Game 3 and they did that tonight," said MacDougall.
For the Panthers, the series defeat at home is a difficult pill to swallow, considering how well they played against Acadia in the quarter-finals.
"At the end of the day, all you can ask for is effort and it was definitely there," said Panthers head coach Forbes MacPherson. "We're proud of how they battled. We got behind the eight ball early and we just couldn't recover."
The VReds went on the attack early and didn't let up, as the scoring opportunities came fast and furious. While on the power-play, UNB's Tyler Carroll fired a shot at goaltender Mavric Parks, but Philippe Halley was there to bury the rebound, putting UNB ahead 1-0.
At 4:40, Stephen Anderson capitalized on UNB's second power-play of the night, extending the lead to two goals.
UNB continued their aggressive pursuit, forcing several UPEI turnovers. Parks was able to turn away multiple scoring opportunities, but UNB's puck possession was too powerful to contain.
Late in the period, Halley added his second of the night to give his team a comfortable 3-0 advantage.
"He's a gamer," said MacDougall of his versatile forward. "He just gives you his heart and soul every night, and it was nice to see him rewarded with a couple goals tonight."
The Varsity Reds jumped on the Panthers again at 1:18 of the second.
Carroll rifled the puck past Matt Mahalak – who replaced Parks 15 minutes into the first period – to seal the 4-0 win.
Carroll and Halley led the way for UNB, scoring two points apiece, while netminder Etienne Marcoux made 25 saves for the shutout.
The Varsity Reds now await the winner of the St. FX-Saint Mary's series, where St. FX leads 2-1.
MacDougall says his team will be ready.
"Now we get a chance to get some preparation done. And whenever we get a face to our next opponent, we have to find ways to continue to get better."
BY – THOMAS BECKER, FOR UPEI ATHLETICS
PHOTO BY – JANESSA HOGAN