The UNB Varsity Reds scored in the first and second periods, added an empty-net goal late in the third, and Etienne Marcoux (Terrebonne, Que.) stopped all 20 shots fired at him, en route to a 3-0 victory over the Acadia Axemen in the first semifinal of the 2017 U SPORTS Cavendish Farms University Cup. UNB will now play the winner of the second semifinal between StFXand Saskatchewan.
UNB opened the scoring on their very first shot on goal, at 4:28 of the first, when Chris Caissy (Campbellton, N.B.) drew defenders to his side of the net and slipped the puck to Stephen Anderson (Morell, P.E.I) who put it past Acadia goaltender Robert Steeves (Moncton, N.B.).
“It was right there. I didn’t have to work too hard for that,” said Anderson after the game. “It got us right into the game, for sure.”
Despite trailing, the Axemen defense kept UNB’s snipers to outside shots and had a 6-5 edge in shots in the opening frame.
In the second period, Jordan Murray (Riverview, N.B.) added another for UNB on the power play off a point shot that found its way past Steeves. Up by two in the third, Chris Clapperton (Cap Espoir, Que.) got behind a defender and rolled a nice pass to Phillipe Maillet (Terrebonne, Que.), who put it into an empty net with 1:13 left. UNB outshot Acadia 30–20.
It was a feisty and spirited game between the two Atlantic University Sport rivals, plenty of hitting..
UNB head coach Gardiner MacDougall was pleased with his team’s penalty kill, which kept Acadia to 0 for 6 on the power play.
“The special teams were special,” he said. “We had to kill a five-minute penalty in the third, and when we did that, it gave us more confidence.”
MacDougall also had high praise for his goaltender.
“Marcoux simplified the game,” he said. He kept great body position all game, kept calm, and helped kill off those penalties.”
It will be the third year in a row that UNB has appeared in the gold medal game and MacDougall acknowledged it will be a momentous occasion.
“It is really special to get to the final four in the national competition,” MacDougall said. “It is a testament to the quality of the hockey in the AUS that these teams are there.”
Acadia coach Darren Burns was pleased with his team’s effort, despite the loss.
“In a tournament like this, you can never be flat, and we were the furthest thing from flat,” he said. “We played hard. It is a game of bounces-maybe (if) one or two go our way, and things are different. We competed every shift. UNB is a great team. We need to regroup and be ready for the bronze game tomorrow.”