FREDERICTON, N.B. (ISN) – The Moncton Aigles Bleus kept their gold medal hopes alive at the 50th CIS men’s hockey championship thanks to a dominating 5-1 victory over the Saskatchewan Huskies in their second and final pool play contest, Friday afternoon, in front of a capacity crowd 3,750 at the University of New Brunswick’s Aitken Centre.
Cavendish Farms University Cup website: http://english.cis-sic.ca/championships/mice/index
The fifth-seeded Aigles Bleus not only needed a win against third-ranked Saskatchewan, they needed to beat the Canada West champions by a wide margin after losing 6-3 to the McGill Redmen in their Cavendish Farms University Cup opener on Thursday.
Following today’s result, McGill remains in the driver’s seat going into Saturday’s Pool B finale at 11:30 a.m. Atlantic.
The Redmen will advance to the national final for the second straight year with a win over Saskatchewan or a loss by two goals or less. The Aigles Bleus will turn into Saskatchewan fans tomorrow as a Huskies’ victory by three, four or five goals would send Moncton to the championship match. Saskatchewan also has a chance to play for the University Cup on Sunday, but faces the daunting task of defeating McGill by six or more.
“It was a great bounce back win. I’m very proud of the guys,” said Moncton bench boss Serge Bourgeois, the CIS coach of the year. “It’s too bad we now have to get some help to advance, but we’re the ones who put ourselves in this situation. All we can do now is sit and wait.”
After being named Moncton player of the game against McGill on Thursday, Éric Faille, a centre from Lachine, Que., once again led the way for the Aigles Bleus with two goals and one assist.
Defenceman Samuel Groulx of Gatineau, Que., forward Francis Rochon, also of Gatineau, and rearguard Simon Lacroix of Ottawa also scored for the winners. Lacroix added a helper, while team captain Dean Ouellet of Edmunston, N.B., picked up a pair of assists.
Goaltender Pierre-Alexandre Marion, another Gatineau native, was solid in the win and earned Moncton game-MVP honours following a 20-save performance.
“It was pretty easy to be motivated today,” said Ouellet. “We didn’t play our best game (against McGill) yesterday. The guys wanted to battle hard to prove ourselves and gives us a chance. From the get-go, the guys were fired up this morning and ready to go.”
“It started in the warm-up, I asked the guys to do something different (shoot higher) and it actually worked for my confidence but Saskatchewan scored on their first shot,” said Marion. “After that, I told myself ‘Not again. I’m not going to let this happen’.”
Matthew Delahey scored Saskatchewan’s lone goal and was named player of the match for the Huskies. The sophomore blueliner from Moose Jaw, Sask., opened the scoring just 2:08 into the contest but that was all the offence the Canada West champs would muster.
Netminder David Reekie, a native of Saskatoon, took the loss after stopping 27 of 32 pucks fired his way.
“That’s not the kind of third period our team typically plays,” said Huskies head coach Dave Adolph, whose team didn’t get a single shot on net in the first half of the final stanza. “We got off to a good start, played a helluva second period but didn’t score and had to kill off a four-minute penalty to start the third and just never got it rolling. Unfortunately that’s hockey. You can diagram it any way you want. I feel sorry for all the people that came all the way from Saskatchewan.”
Captain Kyle Ross was also disappointed the Huskies’ overall performance. The senior from Regina, who wraps up his university career this weekend, centers a line that combined for a CIS-best 116 points during the regular season but was neutralized on Friday.
“The effort just wasn’t there. We came here to play the type of game that we play and we feel that we didn’t do that today. So we have one more chance to show what we can do (against McGill on Saturday). I know we need a lot of goals to overcome and McGill’s got a good hockey club but we’ve just got focus on our own game and have no regrets.”
Saskatchewan got on the board after only two minutes of play. Just as it looked like a Huskies’ 3-on-2 had been broken up by the Moncton defence, Delahey, who had joined the rush from his rearguard position, jumped on a loose puck in the slot and beat Marion high on the glove side.
The Huskies almost doubled their lead five minutes later but Marion made a great pad save off a one-timer by Derek Hulak, who took a nice backhand feed from Ross.
Faille tied it up at 1-1 midway through the first period while the Aigles Bleus were playing a man down. The six-foot centre took a pass from defenceman Mathieu Bolduc at his blue line and the teammates went on a 2-on-1. Faille showed remarkable patience and roofed a wrist shot over Reekie’s glove.
Four minutes later, Reekie couldn’t handle Faille’s point shot and Groulx scored off the rebound to give Moncton its first lead of the afternoon.
The Huskies dominated most of the middle stanza and finished the period with an 11-6 edge in shots. They couldn’t tie the match however and instead, it was the Aigles Bleus who increased their advantage 84 seconds before the intermission thanks to Rochon, who was left all alone in the crease.
Lacroix made it 4-1 on a superb individual effort 6:25 into the third period. After dragging the puck around a sprawling defenceman, the six-foot-two blueliner finished with a high wrister that left no chance to Reekie.
Needing goals to stay in contention, Moncton kept pressing and created a number of glorious chances. Ouellet hit the post 35 seconds after Lacroix’s goal, and Keven Charland was stopped on a breakaway with just over a minute remaining.
Faille finally added to the Aigles Bleus’ tally with 31.6 seconds left on the clock.