The Varsity Reds men's hockey certainly didn't show any off-season rust Friday night, hosting the Nipissing Lakers in their pre-season home opener in front of 1,600 fans.
The Varsity Reds dismantled the visiting Lakers 11-1, scoring as many goals as the Lakers had shots.
Fourth-year centre Taylor MacDougall posted a natural hat trick in the second period alone and also added an assist in the frame for a four-point night, while defensemen Adrian Robertson and Jordan Murray, and newcomer Cameron Brace each added a pair of goals.
Transfer defenseman Alex Wall, who came over from the University of Prince Edward Island in the off-season, added four helpers in his first game at the Aitken Centre in a Varsity Reds uniform.
MacDougall said he never remembered a time where his team totalled the opponent's shot totals in goals and said the pre-season is the time to get better and develop as a team.
"We had a pretty solid 60 [minutes] from our group," MacDougall said. "That's what the pre-season is all about is developing habits and coming together as a team. Obviously tonight was a step in that direction."
Perhaps more impressive than the goals-to-shots ratio was the Varsity Reds' special teams. UNB – which ranked fourth in Atlantic University Sport power play percentage during the regular season last year – was a perfect six-for-six with the man advantage last night and even added a shorthanded marker from rookie Matt Boudens.
With 27 seconds left in regulation, UNB went back to the power play on a Matt Paton slashing penalty. After a Matt Petgrave point shot, Brace buried the loose puck off a quick Nipissing turnover with 8.1 seconds to go to keep the perfect streak intact.
Head coach Gardiner MacDougall said it was great to build some confidence on special teams. When asked what was different this year from last, coach MacDougall humorously replied "right now we really haven't worked on it yet. Maybe that's the key."
"It's a process," coach MacDougall added. "I thought early we had some opportunities on the power play and they kept it pretty efficient and simple and just generated shots to the net. So certainly we'll take it."
"That's a credit to the guys who are out there executing for a full 60 [minutes]," Taylor MacDougall added. "This time of year it's easy to be rusty with your special teams and stuff. Anytime you can for six-for-six it's a testament and you want to keep that rolling."
Newcomer Chris Carrozi got the nod for UNB and stopped nine of the Lakers' 10 shots in his Aitken Centre debut.
UNB had a scare late in the first when veteran forward Tyler Carroll went into the boards awkwardly and left for the dressing room favouring his arm. Carroll – who missed most of the first half of last year's season nursing a shoulder injury – returned for the second period and after the game coaches said it was just a scare.
Coach MacDougall is also experimenting with Carroll at centre this pre-season.
"We said 'Let's see what happens here,' " coach MacDougall said. "We moved a guy Kevin Henderson to centre one year and he never played centre before. It ended up to be a pretty good year for our team and a pretty good career move for him. So let's see what happens. [Carroll] has enjoyed it so far."
The Varsity Reds are back on the ice next Friday as they host the New Brunswick rival Moncton Aigles Bleus. Puck drop is at 7 p.m. at the Aitken Centre.