(FREDERICTON, NB) The UNB Reds scored a 3-1 win over the UPEI Panthers on Thursday night, taking a one-game-to-none lead in their best of five Subway Atlantic University Sport semi-final series.
Kris Bennett (Brampton, ON) and Matthew Boucher (Los Angeles, Calif.) each had a goal and an assist to lead the Reds, who were playing for the first time in 11 days.
"It feels good," said Bennett. "Obviously, we would've liked to have scored in the first, or get a few more goals with the number of chances we had, but our mindset going in was just playing simple after being off for almost two weeks."
UNB was coming off a first round bye and hadn't played since the end of their regular season, on February 9th.
UPEI swept Moncton in the first round.
Matthew Mancina (Windsor, ON) made 52 saves on 55 shots on the Panthers net to lead UPEI.
Mancina was on his game early, as UNB outshot UPEI 15-8 in a scoreless first period.
Alex Dubeau (Mascouche, QC) was just as sharp in the Reds net. He was forced to make big saves on three consecutive Panthers rushes with under three minutes to play in the first period.
The Reds finally got to Mancina, early in the second period.
The second-year Panther made a save on a Matt Murphy (Woodstock, NB) shot from the slot, but the rebound trickled right to Mark Rassell (Calgary, AB) at the side of the net. He tucked in a backhander and the Reds went up 1-0.
But the UNB lead didn't last long.
On the power-play, Kameron Kielly (Charlottetown, PE) pulled UPEI even at 4:49 of the second.
Bennett re-established UNB's lead at 14:08, on the Reds 31st shot on net.
He took a Boucher pass from behind the net and lifted a backhand past Mancina.
Boucher scored UNB's insurance goal at 8:37 of the third period when he got a rebound right in front of the Panthers net and scored to make it 3-1.
That would stand as the final score.
For Boucher, named the Subway Player of the Game, a return to game action was nice.
"Two weeks of practice in, I guess you could say mid-season, is a pretty long stretch," he said. "It's awesome to get going again and get this win."
It was a tame game.
UPEI enjoyed just the one power-play, while the Reds had two, both coming in the third period.
The Panthers did hold UNB's newly named AUS MVP, Chris Clapperton (Cap d'Espoir, QC), off the scoreboard, but that allowed Bennett and Boucher to step in.
"We're so deep, even with our top line, if we don't bring it, they back us up," said Bennett. "Even our third line or fourth line, everyone contributes. I think that's the best thing about our team."
Despite the loss, Mancina believes there were positives the Panthers can draw on.
"I thought we played pretty well," he said. "We kept a lot of their shots outside. I know they had 55, but a lot of them were perimeter shots. I kicked out a few bad rebounds and the guys were there to clear it out, so I thought we played pretty good."
Game two of the series goes Friday, at UNB's Aitken Centre, at 7:00pm
RECAP BY: Andy Campbell/UNB Athletics
PHOTOS BY: James West/for UNB Athletics