The St. Thomas Tommies let one slip away in Friday night’s edition of the Battle of the Hill. The University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds led an inspired comeback in the third period erasing a 3-0 deficit with four shorthanded goals beating the Tommies 5-3. The loss marks the 28th straight for the Tommies who haven’t beaten their rivals since 2006.
“We sat back,” said St. Thomas goalie Charles Lavigne who stopped all 23 shots he faced in the first two periods. “That’s exactly what we said we didn’t want to do, but we did and we paid for it.”
The Tommies looked poised to end a streak that has haunted them for five years, but when Varsity Reds defenseman John Harty jumped into the play shorthanded and beat Lavigne with a wrap around less than two minutes into the third period, the comeback was on.
“We’re a team that needs sparks,” said UNB coach Gardiner MacDougall, “and if you can get a couple sparks together then we can ignite and get some momentum.”
Harty’s goal was exactly the spark UNB needed, igniting the Reds for four shorthanded goals, shocking the 936 fans in attendance. Harty scored twice, rookie Tyler Carroll added a shorthanded goal and Dion Campbell had the game winner while Luke Gallant sealed the win with an empty net short handed goal late in the third.
The Tommies were originally off to a quick start, when Jonathan Bonneau scored six minutes into the first. Steve Sanza extended the lead late in the first when he knocked in his own rebound past UNB goalie Dan Lacosta, who let in two goals on six shots in the period.
Mike Reich added the third goal for the Tommies early in the second period on a nice pass from Felix-Antoine Poulin who had two assists on the night.
The rest of the second was largely dominated by the Varsity Red`s, but they were unable to beat Lavigne, and went into the second intermission trailing 3-0.
“Sometimes the worst thing that can happen is the intermission,” said STU coach Troy Ryan. “You come in here and you think about it [the outcome]for 18 minutes.”
That’s exactly what The Tommies did.
“I was convinced the streak was over,” said Lavigne. “I couldn’t believe how well the guys were playing. Defensively, I know the shots didn’t look very promising but every shot I got I saw, and if I didn’t see it, it didn’t get to me.”
The Tommies had a lot of positives to take out of an ugly loss. For a team that only won three games last year, blowing a 3-0 lead to the best team in the country isn’t so bad says Lavigne.
“It`s good because we outplayed them. Two years ago when we took them to overtime I don’t think we outplayed them, but now I think we scared them which is good.”
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