Patriotes’ electrifying comeback stuns Axemen in CIS University Cup quarterfinal
By Stephen Campbell
The term “heartbreaker” is often overused in the sports world, but Friday’s Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) University Cup quarterfinal between University of Quebec Trois-Rivieres and Acadia is the only way to describe the outcome.
Carrying a 4-1 lead into the third period and thoroughly outplaying their opponents through 40 minutes, Acadia seemed to be in cruise control, with a trip to the semifinals on the horizon.
But it was a coaching decision at the end of the second frame that changed the course of the game. Immediately after allowing his fourth goal on 25 shots, UQTR Patriotes head coach Marc-Etienne Hubert pulled starting netminder Francis Desrosiers in favour of backup Guillaume Nadeau.
Less than one minute into the third, Guiallaume Asselin found the back of the net for the Patriotes. At 13:19, Acadia once again regained its three goal lead to make the score 5-2.
It was then that the wheels started to come off for the Axemen. UQTR’s Felix Plouffe found the twine with 10 minutes remaining, cutting the deficit to two. With the clock reading 7:56, the Patriotes stunned the pro-Acadia Scotiabank Centre crowd by scoring twice in just 19 seconds and evening up the game at five.
While his team awoke from their early offensive slumber, Nadeau stood tall in between the pipes, particularly by making an outstanding sprawling blocker save on Acadia’s Boston Leier with three seconds remaining in the third period. Despite surrendering five goals, Axemen goaltender Brandon Glover was kept in the game by coach Darren Burns.
As the matchup shifted to overtime, Acadia’s earlier dominance seemed like a distant memory. After successfully killing off a Martin Lefebvre hooking penalty five minutes into extra time, UQTR started to apply some offensive pressure of its own.
Capitalizing on an Axemen turnover with a minute and a half remaining in OT, Vincent Marcoux found himself on a two-on-one with only Glover standing in the way between his squad and a berth in the semifinals. Opting not to pass, Marcoux blasted a slap shot that cleanly beat Glover, sending his teammates storming the ice in jubilation and silencing the packed house decked in Acadia jerseys and team colours.
“I never shoot, but this time I decided to,” the 22-year-old said after the game. “I shot as hard as I possibly can.”
That goal can only be described as a metaphorical dagger for the Axemen. Fresh off getting swept in the Atlantic University Sport final at the hands of rival UNB, the club departs Halifax empty handed with a series of “what ifs” as a result of the collapse that’s surely not going to go away overnight.
Turning points in hockey don’t just happen on the ice. The momentum-shifting decision to bench Desrosiers and insert Nadeau into the game provided the shot in the arm UQTR needed and can be pointed at as the major reason the club is not heading back to La Belle Province early.
“It was the right time for a switch and [Nadeau] was ready for the call,” Hubert said of the decision after the game. “Guillaume showed a lot to come in for us today, and we’re proud of him.”
The bench boss stated the four-year veteran Nadeau will most likely get the nod for Saturday’s semifinal against reigning champion University of Alberta.
Due to the stunning loss, Acadia will have to wait at least another year to bring a third CIS men’s hockey banner back to the Wolfville. The school’s last national title came back in the 1996.
Golden Bears storm past X-Men to wrap up CIS University Cup quarterfinals
By Jessica Flower
It would have made for one hell of a Cinderella story, but St. FX’s dreams of winning the CIS title for the first time in over ten years was not meant to be. The top-seeded, and defending CIS champion University of Alberta Golden Bears posted a commanding 5-1 victory over the eighth-seeded X-Men.
St. FX managed an impressive start against the Golden Bears, giving the local crowd a glimmer of hope. At the eight minute mark in the first, St. FX center Michael Kirkpatrick came flying down the right wing and took a shot from the middle of the faceoff circle. Blake Gal was right there to tip in the rebound past a sprawling Kurtis Mucha to give the X-Men the early lead.
U of A, who seemed particularly slow out of the gate, picked up steam towards the end of the first. But things seemed to take a turn for the team when center Riley Keiser received a two-minute penalty for checking from behind and a ten-minute misconduct with less than three minutes remaining in the frame.
After a missed opportunity by St. FX, U of A’s T.J. Foster fed Jordan Hickmott, who brought the puck inside the blue line, wound up and buried it, tying the game at one. Even with the man advantage, St. FX goalie Drew Owsley didn’t stand a chance. U of A would get another shorthanded shot off before the buzzer sounded at the end of 20 minutes.
The Golden Bears started demonstrating their western conference intensity in the second period, opening the second with a peppering of shots. Owsley was caught off guard again at by a long shot from defenseman Brennan Yadlowski which made its way past a screen of players and found the back of the net, making it 2-1 for the Golden Bears.
Inside the five-minute mark of the frame, with St. FX struggling to generate offence, Alberta brought the puck out from the boards to the front of the net. After a scrappy battle for the puck, Alberta’s Travis Toomey snuck it past Owsley to extend Alberta’s lead to two.
With just 12 seconds remaining and tensions running high, a skirmish behind the St. FX net led to four penalties, two to each team, for roughing and cross checking.
U of A’s defence was the undeniable star of the second period. Alberta stuck to the X-Men like glue, swooping in every time X fumbled a pass. The X-Men’s play was sloppy and rushed, which gave U of A plenty of opportunity to strike. Alberta’s puck handling was nothing to sniff at — and the stats are telling.
The Golden Bears ramped up the pressure, bettering their nine shots on net from the first period to 25 at the end of the second. St. FX, on the other hand, was only able to get one shot the entire second period improving their total to just eight, while Owsley had 21 saves entering the final period.
With just under three minutes into the third, St. FX’s defence failed to clear the puck out of their end, leaving two Alberta open in the slot. Kruise Reddick capitalized on the opportunity to give his team a commanding 4-1 lead. U of A’s Foster sent a snipe right past Owsley shortly after, giving his team a four-goal cushion.
It was a winning combination of aggressive offence and a brick wall of a defence that helped Alberta continue their reputation as the team to beat. The Golden Bears finished the game with 34 shots, while St. FX scraped together a measly 13, six of them in the second and third periods combined.
University of Alberta will face off against Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières on Saturday at 4 p.m.