FREDERICTON, NB - The UNB Reds scored early and often as they beat the StFX X-Men 8-2 on Friday night. The X-Men had a depleted roster and short bench due to nine players serving suspensions.
Cam Brace (Etobicoke, ON) scored on a breakaway at 17:50 of the first period, a goal that would prove to be the game winner. Brace added two assists for a three-point night.
Olivier LeBlanc (Quebec City, QC) also had a goal and two assists for UNB, and Chris Clapperton (Cap d'Espoir, QC) had four assists.
LeBlanc was named the Subway Player of the Game. He also earned the Fallen Soldier Award, as Friday's game was UNB's Soldier Appreciation Night. Many of the more than 2900 in attendance were members of the Canadian Forces.
"It means a lot for sure," said LeBlanc. "They put everything on the line for us, as citizens of Canada. It's a great honour to get that award, a lot of guys could've got it tonight. I'm really happy to get it."
Holden Cook (Whitby, ON) scored both goals for the X-Men, who played with just 12 skaters.
"We did everything we could," said Cook. "Obviously, it's extremely tough when you've got two lines going, to compete against a team like that."
Reds forward Kris Bennett (Brampton, ON) opened the scoring at 5:16 of the first period, with UNB on the power-play. He deflected LeBlanc's point shot past X-Men netminder Blade Mann-Dixon (Antigonish, NS).
Just over a minute later, at 6:21, Stephen Anderson (Morell, PE) beat Mann-Dixon as the Reds went up 2-0.
Cook scored his first of the night with about four minutes left in the first, but Brace countered a short time later.
LeBlanc's goal, his first of the season, came early in the second, just ahead of Cook's second. It was all UNB from there, as Tyler Boland (St. John's, NL) scored twice, while Matt Boucher (Los Angeles, CA) and Marcus McIvor (Whitby, ON) added singles.
Alex Dubeau stopped 11 of 13 shots to earn the win in the Reds net.
Mann-Dixon was tagged with the loss, giving up all eight UNB goals on 43 shots. He played just over 57 minutes, spelled briefly by Chase Marchand (Halifax, NS).
"I'm proud of the group for everything they did," said X-Men head coach Brad Peddle. He watched the game from an Aitken Centre media box, serving the first of a two-game suspension.
"They're going out every second shift against a very good hockey team. It's tough."
With the win, the Reds are now 24-2-3. UNB has already clinched first place in Atlantic University Sport.
The X-Men are 15-11-3, third in the standings.
"We don't have a first round of playoffs, so the two games this weekend are basically our first round of the playoffs," said LeBlanc. "We want to play as well we can and be ready for whoever comes out of those match-ups."
The X-Men face the Panthers, at UPEI, on Saturday, while the Reds play host to the Dalhousie Tigers. Both games are scheduled for 7:00pm starts.
Courtesy Andy Campbell, UNB Athletics