By Thomas Becker
The UNB Reds are headed to the AUS finals after handing the UPEI Panthers a 5-0 loss Monday night to sweep the semifinal series 3-0.
The Reds put the game away late in the second period with three goals in just 2:31. Sophomore forward Kris Bennett led the charge with two of those goals.
"It was huge for us," said Bennett of the second-period fury. "I think it took some wind out of them [UPEI] and we just kept rolling from there."
Alexandre Goulet, Mark Rassell and Tyler Boland also scored in the win, while Randy Gazzola led the way with two assists.
After two hard fought games in Fredericton, UNB had no intention of letting this series extend beyond three games.
"We wanted to make sure we finished it off tonight," Bennett said. "UPEI worked so hard and their goalie was unbelievable for them. We were getting a bit worn down, but we had a bit more legs than them tonight."
The Reds came out strong, with a lot of the action coming from their own offensive zone. The Panthers could only keep UNB off the scoreboard for so long before they'd connect on a goal. At 9:41 Gazzola's shot from the blue line deflected to Goulet, who faked a shot and walked around goaltender Matthew Mancina.
UPEI had an opportunity to find the equalizer early in the second while a two-man advantage, but they couldn't solve the visitors' stingy defence. That came back to haunt them late in the period, when the Reds piled on the goals.
After the puck took a funny bounce off the boards at 16:37, an alert Bennett deposited it past an unsuspecting Simon Hofley, who replaced the injured Mancina at the start of the period.
Moments later, Rassell dangled his way to the team's third goal on a penalty shot after getting dragged down on a breakaway.
On an ensuing power play just 29 seconds later, Boland sent a beautiful pass in front to Bennett, who guided a shot past Hofley to make it 4-0.
Boland added his own power play goal midway through the third, when he took a pass from Gazzola in front of the net and backhanded it in to close out the scoring.
The Reds now await the winner of the Saint Mary's–St. FX series, who they'll host in the finals.
Photo Credit: Janessa Hogan