The final Battle of the Hill was too much for the Tommies to handle after a rough game led to UNB grabbing a 6-1 win at the Grant Harvey on Friday night.
The major issue of the game for both teams was penalties. The game saw 12 ten-minute misconducts and three player ejections, two of whom were STU players. Tommies head coach Pat Powers said discipline was a serious issue with the team.
“We’ve got guys – tough, physical guys – coming from major juniors playing professional hockey, and it’s an adjustment. If it happens in the first couple weeks in the season, it’s easier to swallow,” he said. “When playoff-hockey intensity enters the AUS in the second half of the season, and our guys aren’t used to the officiating in this league, it’s an adjustment.”
The first period set the stage for a physical and penalty-filled game. STU grabbed the first powerplay only 49 seconds into the game, but soon after Sawyer Hannay took a cross-checking penalty with a 10-minute misconduct. UNB’s Phillipe Maillet opened scoring on the powerplay less than five minutes in. After the goal was scored, Hannay was visibly upset and banged his stick on the glass. He received another 10-minute misconduct, which automatically led to him being ejected from the game. Tommies defenceman Marc-Andre Levesque scored STU’s lone goal on the powerplay at 15:26.
Although it was a 1-1 tie and the shots were even at 8-7 UNB, the second period spelled nothing but trouble for the Tommies. The V-Reds extended their lead with four more goals, including one shorthanded and one on the powerplay. The Tommies had only three shots in the second.
“We had three good opportunities to take the lead in the second period and we don’t even get a shot on net on three consecutive powerplays. UNB is one of the most skilled teams in the country. We said we couldn’t give them opportunities and we gave them opportunities.”
The third period was more of the same. UNB only had one goal, finalizing their 6-1 win, but the physical play continued. Tensions were high and eventually spilled over, with several fights and skirmishes. STU’s Ian Saab received a match penalty after a fight with UNB’s Mike Thomas, who was ejected. A water bottle-throwing incident led to both benches exchanging words, including Tommies goaltender Jonathan Groenheyde skating from his net to the blue line to voice his anger at the V-Reds. The game saw 189 penalty minutes in total.
V-Reds head coach Gardiner MacDougall accepted that, while penalties aren’t optimal, they just happen at this level of hockey.
“Unfortunately we had a lot of penalties and had to use our energy to kill penalties. But our [penalty kill] was really solid…we had to work for it,” he said.
“You can’t always structure the journey.”
Powers felt the same way, saying the high number of penalties comes with the territory.
“Emotions get high in this rivalry. Your pride takes a hit sometimes and you retaliate.”
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