By Thomas Becker
Photo Janessa Hogan
Cameron Brace led the way with a hat trick as the UNB Varsity Reds defeated the UPEI Panthers 6-2 on Wednesday night.
Christopher Caissy had two goals and a helper while Christopher Clapperton also found the back of the net for the Varsity Reds (11-0-2), who remain undefeated in regulation this season.
"The plays were working tonight and my teammates found me at the right time," Brace said. "All I had to do was get the puck on net."
The Panthers, who fell to 5-6-2, struggled with their special teams units, going 0-5 on their power plays, while allowing four goals on the penalty kill.
"We have spent so much time in the last 72 hours talking about our 5-on-5 play that our special teams was neglected in preparation for this game," said Panthers head coach Forbes MacPherson.
The energy was high at MacLauchlan Arena to begin the game as UPEI tried to avoid their third straight loss. However, UNB initiated the attack recording the opening five shots of the game.
As the pace started to settle down, so too did the Panthers. Midway through the period, Riley Whittingham got free for a shot but hit iron to keep the game scoreless.
Etienne Marcoux was perfect in net in the opening frame, stopping all five shots he faced. The defence in front of him was equally effective at limiting the Panthers offensively, including killing off a 5-on-3 power play near the end of the period.
UNB's defence continued to stifle the Panthers in the second, as UPEI laboured to put pucks on net with the man advantage.
Where the Panthers struggled, the Varsity Reds succeeded. While on the power play, UNB delivered their second blow of the night as Brace hit the top left corner with the wrist shot, doubling their opponent 2-0.
Caissy was at it again at 17:10 when he recorded his second goal of the game, this time with the man advantage, giving the defending national champions a 3-0 lead.
Just two minutes into the third, the Panthers cut into the deficit on a Marcus Power goal. But the Varsity Reds restored their three-goal lead on a flurry of activity in front of the net as Brace notched his second of the night.
The Panthers showing fight came right back on J.C. Campagna's fourth goal of the year to make it 4-2.
But an extended power play at 11:05 would yield two goals for the Varsity Reds – the first by Clapperton and the second by Brace, who completed the hat trick less than a minute later for the 6-2 final.
The Panthers look to turn things around on Nov. 18 when they travel to Moncton to take on the Aigles Bleus. Puck drops at 7 p.m.