Hockey

UNB claims CIS men’s hockey University Cup

Varsity Reds beat X-Men 3-1 in gold medal game

UNB finish on top of the CIS.
UNB finish on top of the CIS.   Stefanie Davis

A time span of just 17 seconds was the deciding factor for this year’s University Cup.

The University of New Brunswick (UNB) Varsity Reds skated victory laps on Sunday night, after beating St. Francis Xavier (St. FX) X-Men 3-1 in the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) men’s hockey championships.

After the first period, the game was tied 1-1. About halfway through the second, the Varsity Reds pulled out two goals within 17 seconds of each other.

The third period saw no goals from either team. The X-men were unable to recover, and the Varsity Reds claimed their spot at the top of the CIS for the sixth time.

After the game, players and coaches of UNB stayed on the ice at the Scotiabank Centre to celebrate with their trophy.

“It’s unbelievable, look around – it’s just pandemonium here,” said UNB captain Cam Critchlow.

“I won’t be wiping this smile off my face for the next couple of weeks.”

UNB player Matt Boudens hoists the University Cup following their win on Sunday.
UNB player Matt Boudens hoists the University Cup following their win on Sunday.   Stefanie Davis

Rivals meet again

This wasn’t the first time these two east coast teams have met. They faced off for the Atlantic University Sport (AUS) championship early in March, where St. FX beat UNB in back to back games in a two-of-three series.

Gardiner MacDougall, UNB head coach, said his team just wasn’t quite there in the AUS finals.

“Sometimes you need a little adversity to get to another level,” he said after the game on Sunday. “We built a lot of confidence in our group. When you get confidence and hunger, it’s a powerful combination.”

Critchlow said they found the extra motivation they needed. “We believed the whole time. We bounced back, and here we are.”

St. FX head coach Brad Peddle said Sunday’s game was “scrambly,” but he couldn’t be more proud of his team.

“We would have liked to put more pressure on them for sure,” he said. “Obviously we would have liked to win today, but when the sting of this one goes away, I think (the X-men) will look back on this and say it was a great season.”

Sticks and helmets litter the ice as UNB celebrates their victory.
Sticks and helmets litter the ice as UNB celebrates their victory.   Stefanie Davis

1, 2, 3 in the country

The AUS league now owns the top three spots in Canada with UNB, St. FX and Saint Mary’s gaining medals this weekend.

Saint Mary’s Huskies earned a bronze medal on Sunday when they beat the University of Saskatchewan Huskies 5-2.

“When you put it up on a national level and you get one, two and three in the country it shows the level of play and how tough our league is,” said Peddle.

St. FX and Saint Mary’s both faced tough teams in the quarterfinals, but playing to a home crowd proved to be an advantage. The Nova Scotia teams were able to knock out two-time CIS champions the University of Alberta Golden Bears, and the top ranked team in the league, the UQTR Patriotes.

Record breaking numbers

The Scotiabank Centre held 9,873 spectators for the final game – most of whom were sporting blue and white to support the home team, St. FX.

This weekend officially set the record for the highest University Cup attendance of all time. 43,513 people passed through the doors of the Scotiabank Centre.

The previous record was set in 2014 with a total of 41,089 in Saskatchewan.