(FREDERICTON, NB) — Stephen Anderson (Morell, PE) scored twice and assisted on another pair of goals, and Patrick Watling (Sault Ste. Marie, ON) had a goal and three assists as the UNB Reds beat the UPEI Panthers 9-2, in UNB's sixth annual Soldier Appreciation Game.
Anderson was named the Subway Player of the Game, and earned the coveted Fallen Soldier Award.
"We have a few nights every year that we really like to represent and honour the people that support our program, and that award tonight means a lot to me, for sure," said Anderson.
The victory extended the Reds' winning streak to 13 games.
UNB jumped on the visitors early.
Mark Rassell (Calgary, AB) was in perfect position to tip a Marcus McIvor (Whitby, ON) shot past Panthers goalie Simon Hofley (Ottawa, ON) at 3:17 of the first period.
Anderson gave UNB a 2-0 lead at 10:11 when he corralled a loose puck in front of the Panthers net and scored his first.
But the Reds two goal lead didn't last long.
Just 43 second later, Kameron Kielly (Charlottetown, PE) snuck past the UNB defence and fired a wrist shot past Samuel Harvey (Alma, QC) to trim the Reds lead to 2-1.
Tyler Boland (St. John's, NL) scored his 19th goal of the season at 13:05 of the first, restoring UNB's two goal lead. Boland took a nice feed from Anderson and beat Hofley low on the blocker side.
UNB erupted for four goals in the second period, including a short-handed marker.
Matthew Boucher (Los Angeles, Calif.) scored, with UNB down a skater, at 4:16 of the period.
Riley Whittingham (Calgary, AB) countered for the Panthers at 8:26.
The Reds then scored three straight, with Watling getting one and Alexandre Goulet (Disraeli, QC) with back-to-back goals less than four minutes apart.
Anderson, with his second, and Oliver Cooper (Fredericton, NB) added goals in the third period for UNB.
"We're clicking on all cylinders right now," said Anderson. "We've just got to stay grounded and keep doing the little things that are making us successful and not get too carried away in these games when we start putting up these big numbers."
Despite the score, Panthers head coach Forbes MacPherson saw at least one positive.
"We got out alive, so that's one good thing," he said. "Obviously, you could tell, we were short on bodies, so tonight's game ended up not affecting the standings in any way, so the fact that we didn't add to our injured list is a positive."
The Reds outshot the Panthers 47-25.
Harvey earned the win in the Reds net, while Hofley and Matthew Mancina (Windsor, ON) shared the loss. Hofley surrendered four of the Reds goals. Mancina gave up five of them.
"We've had a very emotional ten days, leading up to this week, where we were fighting for our lives and to get in to the playoffs," explained MacPherson. "I think we had something like five games in eight days, and it was an emotional five games where four of them went to overtime. With the injuries, it took a toll on our team, and the human side of things, I feel like our team might be a little fatigued."
Despite a winter storm that delivered a mix of snow and freezing rain to the Fredericton area, almost 2300 were in attendance, most members of the military and their families.
"It's a special game for us, with the military folks here, especially with the adverse weather, it was nice as many of them made it out as they did," said Reds head coach Gardiner MacDougall.
He was as happy with his team's play as he was with the crowd.
"I thought our penalty kill was good, they have a pretty potent power-play. The key was to have the energy early, get a lead and protect it and get a chance to extend it," said MacDougall.
The Reds, now 25-and-4, travel to Moncton Saturday for the final game of their Atlantic University Sport regular season schedule.
The Panthers finish their regular season with a 10-15-5 record. UPEI will face the Saint Mary's Huskies in the first round of the AUS playoffs. That series starts Wednesday.
RECAP BY: Andy Campbell/UNB Athletics
PHOTOS BY: James West/for UNB Athletics