CIS University Cup Recap: Day 1

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Guelph tops University of Calgary thanks to outstanding goaltending

By Stephen Campbell

In hockey, all it takes is for one team (and particularly, one goaltender) to get hot at the right time. In the case of the 2014-15 Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) men’s hockey landscape, that team is the Guelph Gryphons.

The historic opening game of the 2015 CIS men’s hockey University Cup belonged to the No. 3 seeded Gryphons, as the Ontario-based club topped the No. 6 University of Calgary Dinos 3-1 in a Thursday matinee quarterfinal clash at the Scotiabank Centre. The contest marked the first time the tournament has come to Halifax, the first of two years it will be played in Nova Scotia’s capital city. St. Francis Xavier is handling hosting duties this year, while Saint Mary’s will be taking on that role in 2016.

Teal Burns opened the scoring with a power play goal for the Gryphons with 40 seconds remaining in the first period sending his squad into the first break with a 1-0 lead in a sloppy, penalty-filled start for both sides.

Throughout the duration of a scoreless second period, Gryphons goaltender Andrew D’Agostini stood on his head, stymying the Calgary offence in the form of 25 saves on as many shots heading into the third.

The Dinos finally got on the board in the opening minute of the final frame thanks to a fantastic solo effort from Chris Collins. But at 15:09, a Carlos Amestoy slap shot blew past University of Calgary goaltender Kris Lazaruk and gave Guelph a 2-1 lead. After some more huge saves in the last 10 minutes of the game from D’Agostini, the Gryphons got their insurance marker with three minutes remaining thanks to Seth Swenson – officially booking his team’s ticket to the next round.

D’Agostini finished with 43 saves and was unquestionably named the player of the game for his team.

Despite the big win, success did not come easily for the Gryphons this year. Guelph went just 11-13-3 in the regular season but caught fire at exactly the right time, going 7-2 in the playoffs en route to winning the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) Championship. The school was the only team in the tournament that finished the campaign with a losing record.

Prior to the opening tilt, Guelph head coach Shawn Camp jokingly thanked the tournament organizers for “letting them in despite our regular season record.”

This is the first year the CIS championship has expanded from six to eight teams and it’s also the first time its format has changed from a pool-play style to a traditional single-elimination competition. The new structure will be re-evaluated after two years by the league.

Acadia faces off against the University of Quebec at Trois-Rivieres, while the defending champion Alberta Golden Bears collide with the St. FX X-Men in the other two quarterfinal matchups scheduled for Friday.

Guelph’s only CIS men’s hockey title came in 1997 and was, prior to this season, the sole year it captured the OUA championship. If D’Agostini can sustain his red-hot play, the sky could be the limit for a team that’s clearly disregarded all prior statistics and records while remaining laser focused on the task at hand: bringing another national men’s hockey banner back to Ontario.

UNB advances with lopsided victory over Windsor

By Jake Tallon

The University of New Brunswick Variety Reds cruised to a 6-2 win over the Windsor Lancers in their first game of the CIS University Cup.

UNB didn’t rest on their laurels after winning the AUS championship; they came out quickly and commanded the tempo for most of the game. Philippe Halley and Philippe Maillet provided enough speed and finesse to keep the Lancers on their heels for most of the game, but it was Cam Braes who stole the show with a four-goal night.

Braes, who had seven goals in the regular season, found the back of the net four times tonight, tripling his postseason total in the process.

Despite the lopsided final, the Lancers stuck with the V-Reds for much of the game, coming into the final period down only by a single goal.

But that was the story of the night. Despite goals from captain Drew Palmer and CIS leading scorer Spencer Pommells, the V-Reds always answered right back.

Although he was not necessarily busy, UNB goalie David Shantz was good when he needed to be, stopping 10 of the 12 shots that came his way.

The Lancers, on the other hand, gave up 38 shots on the night, giving goalie Parker Van Buskirk plenty to do. However, it was the special teams that made the difference in the contest.

Windsor totaled 31 penalty minutes on the night, including a major and a game misconduct in the last ten minutes of the third period, which eventually led to a five-on-three and UNB putting the game all but out of reach for the Lancers.

Three of UNB’s tallies came on the power play, and they even added a short-handed goal and an empty-netter for good measure.

But that’s only a side note, according to head coach Gardiner MacDougall, who is already setting his sights on Saturday’s matinee against the Guelph Gryphons.

“The national championship is a different beast. And the bottom line is to be one goal better. Tonight we stretched it a bit in the third, but our goal is to be one goal better.”

Saturday’s semifinal game will match second seed UNB against third seed Guelph, a challenge that both coach and team welcome.

The contest will be held at the Scotiabank Centre at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday.

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Stephen Campbell

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