(Halifax, N.S.) The Saint Mary's Huskies battled to a 5-4 shootout win over the University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds in a Friday night game-for-the-ages at the Halifax Forum.
It took a 10-round shootout to decide the winner in a fast paced, end-to-end thriller.
"They're a good team, they can bring a lot of firepower at ya" said Huskies head coach Trevor Stienburg. "I'm proud of the guys. We're trying to get a little bit better every game and that was a big win for us."
SMU (12-4-1), the sixth ranked team in the nation, sits with 25-points in the standings, good for third in the AUS, two-points up on the Acadia Axemen.
UNB (14-0-3), the number one team in U Sports, remains unbeaten in regulation. Their 31-points has them alone in first, one-point up on the StFX X-Men in the AUS tables.
Eric Brassard (St. Hubert, Que.) stole the show for the home side. He made 35 saves, including a number of highlight reel acts of larceny, to improve his record to 6-4.
Bronson Beaton (Springhill, N.S.) picked up the winner for SMU in the skills-contest.
Randy Gazzola (Thorold, Ont.), Christopher Clapperton (Cap d'Espoir, Que.), Kris Bennett (Brampton, Ont.) and Colin Suellentrop (Plantation, Fla.) found the net in regulation for UNB.
Alex Dubeau (Mascouche, Que.) finished with 21 saves as his record falls to 9-0-3.
Garlent put the Huskies on the board first, 6:59 into the first. Michael Curtis (Georgetown, Ont.) took a shot from the left-point, and the rebound squirted loose in the crease, Steven Shipley (Ilderton, Ont.) knocked it across to Garlent for a tap in.
Gazzola evened the game at 1-1 at the 11:59 mark of the opening frame. Playing four-on-four, Matt Murphy (Woodstock, Ont.) got going on the rush and flew through the neutral-zone and across the Huskies blue-line on the left-wing. He dropped it for Clapperton who took it to the corner where he spotted Gazzola in the slot and Gazzola ripped a wrist-shot high-glove.
Dubeau made a crazy glove save robbing Garlent from in tight at the 15:55 mark of the period.
DiPerna scored his first 30-seconds later. Stephen Johnson (Moncton, N.B.) got on the puck at the right half-wall in the O-zone and pushed it back to DiPerna. He quickly snapped a shot-with-eyes on net that found its way through traffic and in low-glove.
Latour made it 3-1 Huskies at 19:29 of the first. Shortly after a UNB penalty had expired DiPerna picked the puck up behind his own net, worked towards the right-circle and put the puck on Latour's tape in stride at the Varsity Red blue-line. Latour worked in and snapped a shot low-glove from just inside the left-dot.
Shots were 10-7 Huskies through 20.
The Varsity Reds came out of the intermission with an extra jump in their step.
Clapperton made it a 3-2 game on the power-play 3:25 into the second. Peter Trainor (Fredericton, N.B.) got the puck on the right-wing wall just inside the UNB blue-line and spotted Tyler Boland (St. John's, N.L.) moving through the neutral-zone. He took a step over the SMU blue-line and split the Huskies D with a pass to send Clapperton in with a step. He used a quick release to snap a shot blocker-side from just inside the circle at the right-slot hash-marks.
Bennett tied it up with at 3-3 with another power-play goal at the 9:13 mark of the frame. Clapperton fed it across to Boland on the left-point, he slid it to Olivier LeBlanc (Quebec City, Que.) in the middle of the ice. Leblanc sent it on goal and Bennett redirected it in from the doorstep.
UNB controlled the flow in the middle frame and they won the shot battle 12-3.
Diperna gave the SMU the lead at 4-3 with a shorthanded goal 4:26 into the third. With a face-off in the attacking right-circle in the UNB-zone, Calder Brooks (Emerald Park, Sask.) won the draw back to DiPerna on the right-point. He sent it low on goal and it deflected off a body in front and up into the top-corner glove-side.
With UNB on the power-play in the middle of the third - Brassard flashed the leather to rob Boland on a shot from slot.
Suellentrop pulled the Varsity Reds even at 4-4 with a shorthanded goal at 10:33 of the third. Dylan Willick (Prince George, B.C.) picked up the puck in his own zone and raced up ice across the SMU blue-line on the right-wing. He stopped up, fought off a check, looped towards the middle of the ice and dropped it off for Tristan Pomerleau (Riviere-du-Loup, Que.). Pomerleau took it down low, wheeled behind the net and sent it back to Suellentrop on the right-point and he floated a wrister on goal that slipped in high-glove.
The third was a fairly even affair, with both teams generating some good looks. Shots were 12-10 Varsity Reds.
UNB absolutely dominated in the extra frame of three-on-three and it was Brassard who made the difference for SMU.
The first of Brassard's game-savers came 1:17 into overtime. Bennett, wide-open at the left hash-marks, ripped a shot that was labeled for the top-corner and Brassard came up with a larcenous glove save.
With just 55-seconds left Stephen Anderson was in all alone for UNB and this time Brassard used a quick blocker to deny him from in tight.
A miss-played drop-pass by SMU sent Willick in on a breakaway with just 18-seconds left. He deked to his backhand and Brassard slid out the right pad to make the stop.
Overall shot's were 8-2 for UNB in overtime.
In the shootout, Garlent scored as the second shooter for SMU on an absolutely filthy triple-deke that led to him sliding it in on his backhand.
Boland was up for UNB in the third round with the game on the line. He walked in and fired a snap-shot from the low-slot for a score low-glove.
In the eighth round Johnson gave SMU another chance for the win with a shot that went in low-blocker. Willick answered right back for UNB with a shoulder fake to a high-blocker snipe.
Up in the 10th round Beaton made a quick move to his forehand in tight and buried it over the pad and under the glove for the winner.
Up next, the Varsity Reds travel to Wolfville N.S. to face the Axemen, while the Huskies stay at the Halifax Forum to host the UPEI Panthers. Both games have a 7:00pm AST puck drop on Saturday, December 2.
Photos Nick Pearce