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It may be the 31st time in a row St. Thomas University’s men’s hockey team has lost to the University of New Brunswick’s Varsity Reds, but don’t expect STU head coach Troy Ryan to care. The Tommies lost 5-0 to UNB during the final battle of the hill of the season Wednesday night.
“They’re a national championship team and we’re a team who’s looking for double digit wins. They’re the least of our worries,” Ryan said.
And even though Ryan admits the Tommies were outmatched in every aspect of the game, he takes sole responsibility for his team’s performance.
“I didn’t prepare our guys as well as they prepared their guys. We were just outmatched in all areas. I take as much responsibility…Tonight they [his players] weren’t as good as their players and tonight I wasn’t as good as the opposition.”
The Tommies were in the penalty box early on – a trend in recent weeks - as Sebastian Bernier took an interference penalty less than a minute into the game.
During the powerplay, Luke Gallant fired home a slap shot from the blue line at the 1:34 mark to give UNB the early 1-0 lead.
The Tommies had a chance to muster up an equalizer soon after on a powerplay of their own, but managed more offsides, 2, than shots, 0, during the man advantage.
The Varsity Reds had a golden chance to double their lead midway through the period when Jordan Clendenning took advantage of the Tommies defensive mishap, only to see his shot saved by STU’s Charles Lavigne, who used his body in desperation.
But it wouldn’t be long until UNB broke through again as Tyler Carroll scored on a delayed penalty. Carroll wiggled his way through the Tommies defense and as he approached the goal, he missed the puck when shooting, only to see it trickle under Lavigne and into the net.
The second period began similarly to the first, with UNB dominating both sides of the game. Lavigne was called into action early, making a sprawling save in the paint; then making a brilliant stick save, reaching back behind him as the puck rolled towards the open net.
UNB’s Travis Fullerton, who had not seen much net action is his end, looked shaky early in the second period. He first whiffed on the puck on a simple dump in, only to see the puck role harmlessly wide of his net. Moments later he made an ugly stick save, where the puck lazily rolled back to the slot, only to have it cleared by his defensemen.
The Tommies, who has been aggressively moving up the ice to counter the UNB attack, were stung when Shayne Wiebe was sent in on a breakaway by Spencer Corcoron, which Wiebe buried to make it 3-0 UNB.
It was soon 4-0 when Kyle Bailey buried a one-timer off a nice feed from Jonathon Harty while on the powerplay at the 12:13
mark of the second.
The Tommies ended the second frame with a flurry of offense, but their shots on Fullerton were tame wrist shots from the point and were easily dealt with by the Varsity Reds goalie.
Steve Sanza had an early breakaway chance in the third period to get the Tommies on the board, but again, Fullerton stood his ground and stopped Sanza’s wrister.
The Tommies were lucky not to find themselves 5-0 down when the puck was deflected on top of the Tommies net. A flurry of activity led to the puck being tipped into Lavigne’s crease, only for the Tommies to escape by clearing the puck.
But they weren’t as lucky next time as Andrew Andricopoulos misread an offensive rush and let Shayne Wiebe skate by him. Wiebe sent the puck right across the crease where Clendenning buried the puck to make it 5-0 at 15:11.
The final four minutes were played out tamely, besides some scuffling from the Tommies Chris Morehouse. The Tommies were outshot 45-14 over the 60 minutes.
In a game that lacked any real positives for the Tommies, Ryan was pleased with how they performed in the third period.
“I asked them [his players] after the second period…what does everyone in the building expect you guys to do right now? They said, ‘Unravel, take undisciplined penalties…’ and at least that’s one thing we proved some people wrong. So that was one success,” he said.
Ryan acknowledged that as of right now, his team can’t and isn’t expected to compete with the top dogs of their conference.
“I want to find a way to beat Dal,” Ryan said, solidifying his intentions to beat the teams closer to the Tommies in the standings.
Just don’t expect him to worry too much about that famous losing streak with UNB.
“It’s a waste of our time talking about it,” he said.