(SASKATOON, Sask.) – Nick MacNeil, Tyler Carroll and Bryce Swan all scored twice as the University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds joined AUS rival Saint Mary's in the CIS men's hockey championship final thanks to a dominating 8-3 win over the UQTR Patriotes at the Credit Union Centre, Saturday night.
Sunday at 5:30 p.m. Saskatchewan Time - live on Sportsnet ONE and www.CIS-SIC.tv - second-seeded UNB will face fourth-ranked Saint Mary's in the first-ever meeting between the two teams at the University Cup. It will mark the fourth all-AUS title match in tournament history, all involving the V-Reds, and the first since 2007 when UNB defeated Moncton 3-2 in overtime.
UNB, which will skate in the ninth CIS final in school history, has since added University Cup titles in 2009 and 2011 and had also triumphed back in 1998. Saint Mary's has one CIS banner (in 2010) in five previous trips to the championship match.
The AUS foes met last week in the Atlantic conference final, with UNB taking the best-of-three series in three games.
"Anytime you get to the national final, it's an exciting opportunity," said UNB head coach Gardiner MacDougall. "We had an outstanding second period, we had good puck possession... we made good on our second chance (opportunities)."
Following a crazy start that saw the teams exchange six goals in the first 10 minutes of play, the rest of the contest was all UNB as the V-Reds outshot UQTR 51-22, including an 18-9 advantage in the first period, 22-7 in the second and 11-6 in the third.
"It's very disappointing to see our season end like this," said first-year UQTR bench boss Gilles Bouchard. "Hats off to UNB, they're a great team. Unfortunately, there's a virus going around our team and tonight, our top two defencemen were dressed but barely played because they were too sick."
One of those two standouts was Pierre-Luc Lessard, the reigning CIS defenceman of the year.
In just 45 seconds, the Varsity Reds were on the board with a goal by MacNeil, who deflected Adrian Robertson's point shot just under the arm of Marc-Antoine Gélinas.
Less than two minutes later, UNB doubled its lead. Antoine Houde-Caron streaked down the left side and fired a shot off the pad of Gélinas. The rebound bounced right to Swan waiting in front of the net to shovel it in.
Bouchard then called a timeout to calm his troops and the move quickly paid dividends.
UQTR got on the board less than a minute later when all-Canadian forward Félix Petit wired home a slap shot from the hash mark to cut the Varsity Red lead in half.
The Patriotes would get another goal just minutes later on the power play to tie the contest at two. Lessard's point shot trickled through the legs of UNB goaltender Dan LaCosta and was scooped into the net by Pierre-Olivier Morin.
The OUA champions took their first lead of the game with their third unanswered goal of the period. Maxime Paquet-Gravel gathered in Raphaël Boudreau's blocked point shot and put it past LaCosta before he could slide over to make the save.
UNB would manage to tie the game again before the halfway mark of the first period. Thomas Nesbitt circled the net and found Chris Culligan in front. Culligan hammered a shot on net that was steered aside by Gélinas, but Carroll was quick to jump on the puck and deposit the rebound into the back of the net.
Dion Campbell scored what would turn out to be the game-winner five minutes into the second frame. Daine Todd used a burst of speed to get around the net before centering to MacNeil who fired a shot on net. Gélinas made the initial save once again, but Campbell was there to bury the rebound.
MacNeil collected his second goal of the game late in the second to give the Varsity Reds a 5-3 lead after 40 minutes.
Carroll and Swan would both get their second goals of the game as UNB scored three times in the third en route to an 8-3 win.
GAME NOTES: UNB had defeated Saskatchewan 3-1 on Thursday and finished atop the pool B standings with a 2-0 record, ahead of UQTR (1-1) and the tournament host Huskies (0-2)... In pool A, all three teams finished with 1-1 marks but Saint Mary's earned first place thanks to a plus-3 goal differential, compared to an even tally for Alberta and minus-3 for Waterloo.
UNB 8, UQTR 3
1. UNB Nick MacNeil (1) (Adrian Robertson, Ben Wright), 0:45
2. UNB Bryce Swan (1) (Antoine Houde-Caron), 2:28
3. QTR Félix Petit (1) (Billy Lacasse, Maxime Robichaud), 3:09 PP
4. QTR Pierre-Olivier Morin (1) (Pierre-Luc Lessard), 4:36
5. QTR Maxime Paquet-Gravel (1) (Raphaël Boudreau), 8:20
6. UNB Tyler Carroll (2) (Chris Culligan, Thomas Nesbitt), 9:59
Team (UNB) too many men (served by Thomas Nesbitt), 2:57;
Billy Lacasse (QTR) tripping, 4:52;
Tyler Carroll (UNB) slashing, 6:02.
7. UNB Dion Campbell (1) (Nick MacNeil, Daine Todd), 5:11
8. UNB Nick MacNeil (2) (Colby Pridham, Dion Campbell), 10:53
Emmanuel Boudreau (QTR) holding the stick, 0:24;
Matt Fillier (UNB) tripping, 5:41;
Marc-Antoine Gélinas (QTR) delay of game, 14:41;
Tyler Carroll (UNB) roughing, 17:23.
9. UNB Tyler Carroll (3) (unassisted), 8:36
10. UNB Thomas Nesbitt (1) (Chris Culligan), 13:43
11. UNB Bryce Swan (2) (Antoine Houde-Caron, Taylor MacDougall), 15:01
Pierre-Olivier Morin (QTR) cross checking, 6:20;
Christophe Tremblay-Losier (QTR) roughing, 7:42;
Colby Pridham (UNB) slashing, 8:01;
Maxime Paquet-Gravel (QTR) elbowing, 9:57;
Marc-Antoine Desnoyers (UNB) hooking, 17:39;
Josh Kidd (UNB) checking to the head, 10-minute misconduct, 18:02.
GOALS (by period)
UNB: 3-2-3: 8
QTR: 3-0-0: 3
SHOTS ON GOAL (by period)
UNB: 18-22-11: 51
QTR: 9-7-6: 22
UNB – Dan LaCosta (W, 2-0, 22 shots, 19 saves, 3 GA, 60:00)
QTR – Marc-Antoine Gélinas (L, 1-1, 51 shots, 43 saves, 8 GA, 55:01)
QTR – Guillaume Nadeau (0 shots, 0 saves, 4:59)
PLAYERS OF THE GAME:
UNB: Nick MacNeil
QTR: Pierre-Olivier Morin
REFEREES: Kyle Paulsen, Mario Maillet
LINESMEN: Sean Raphael, Kelsey Mahoney
POOL STANDINGS & RESULTS (SASKATCHEWAN TIME)
Pool A standings (FINAL)
GP W L GF GA PTS
1. SMU 2 1 1 8 5 2
2. Alberta 2 1 1 5 5 2
3. Waterloo 2 1 1 3 6 2
Pool B standings (FINAL)
1. UNB 2 2 0 11 4 4
2. UQTR 2 1 1 6 9 2
3. Sask 2 0 2 2 6 0
Thursday, March 14
1:00 pm Pool A #1: Waterloo 2, Alberta 1
7:20 pm Pool B #1: UNB 3, Saskatchewan 1
Friday, March 15
1:00 pm Pool A #2: Alberta 4, Saint Mary's 3 (OT)
7:00 pm Pool B #2: UQTR 3, Saskatchewan 1
Saturday, March 16
1:30 pm Pool A #3: Waterloo vs. Saint Mary's
8:00 pm Pool B #3: UNB 8, UQTR 3
Sunday, March 17
5:30 pm University Cup Final: Saint Mary's vs. UNB (Sportsnet ONE & www.CIS-SIC.tv)