(FREDERICTON, N.B.) The UNB Reds took the opening game of the 2019 Subway AUS Men's Hockey Championship final series, with a 5-1 win over the StFX X-Men on Monday night.
Kris Bennett (Brampton, Ont. Chris Clapperton (Cap d'Espoir, Que.), Matt Murphy (Woodstock, N.B.), Mark Rassell (Calgary, Alta.), and Oliver Cooper (Fredericton, N.B.) scored for the Reds.
"Obviously tonight, we were flying," said Bennett, who also had an assist, earning Subway Player of the Game honours. "Every single guy on our team contributed and we just have to keep that going."
Daniel Robertson (Windsor, Ont.) scored the lone goal for the X-Men.
"They were better," said X-Men head coach Brad Peddle. "They were faster, they were stronger, there was more urgency in their game. We just got outplayed by a better team."
With the win, the Reds lead the best-of-three series, and are in position to repeat as AUS champs on Wednesday, in Antigonish.
Game one started somewhat evenly, with both sides having scoring chances.
About three minutes in, Matt Boudens (Pembroke, Ont.) took a Mark Simpson (Rothesay, N.B.) pass and made a move on X-Men goaltender Chase Marchand (Halifax, N.S.), but Marchand followed Boudens across the crease to deny him.
With pressure mounting and the Reds working on the power-play, UNB opened the scoring when Bennett tipped Tristan Pomerleau's (Riviere-du-Loup, Que.) point shot past Marchand with 1:57 to play in the first period.
The Reds added to their lead at 7:38 of the second.
Stephen Anderson (Morell, P.E.I.) moved into the slot and fed Clapperton, off to the side. The AUS MVP fired a hard shot high over Marchand's glove hand to give the home team a 2-0 lead.
The X-Men got on the board while working with a two-man advantage.
Reds goaltender Alex Dubeau (Mascouche, Que.) made a clearing attempt, from behind his net, that ended up on Robertson's stick. He deposited the puck into the unmanned UNB net, trimming the Reds lead to 2-1.
But, just 36 seconds later, Murphy joined the rush, took a Bennett pass, and slid the puck under Marchand to restore the Reds two goal lead.
Rassell and Cooper scored in the third period, making the final 5-1.
Cooper's goal came at 19:59 of the third.
"Say what you want, this was an off night," said Peddle. "At the end of the day, this is the AUS Final and we've got to find a way to push through, whether that's tired or a short bench, you've got to find a way. They're going to be so pissed off at the result tonight and how we played or didn't play, that there will be very little that I'll need to say to these guys tomorrow."
While the Reds got goals from five different players, 12 players picked up points, including three who had multiple point efforts.
Samuel Dove McFalls (Montreal, Que.) was held without a point, but he was a perfect 17-for-17 in the face-off circle.
"I didn't know how many, but I knew I hadn't lost one, so on the last shift I told Bouds (Matt Boudens) if we get a draw you're taking it, I'm not risking it on the last one," joked Dove-McFalls. "It just makes the game so much easier, you don't have to go get it back. Every time, you're starting with the puck virtually every shift. You're playing on offence right away."
This series now shifts to Antigonish, for game three. It's scheduled for Wednesday night, at 7 p.m.
"We respect them a lot," said Bennett, of the X-Men. "They've come so far and they're still battling, so the next game is going to be a hard one. We're focused on that now."
If necessary, the Reds would host game three of the series, on Friday. Game three would start at 7 p.m.
RECAP BY: Andy Campbell/UNB Athletics
PHOTOS BY: James West/for UNB Athletics