Courtesy of host organizing committee
March 23, 2014, SASKATOON (ISN) – Levko Koper scored twice, including the game-winner, to lead the top-seeded University of Alberta Golden Bears to a 3-1 victory over the host Saskatchewan Huskies in the CIS men’s hockey championship final, Sunday afternoon, marking the record 14th University Cup triumph for the powerhouse from Edmonton.
UNIVERSITY CUP WEBSITE: www.universitycup.ca
It was the first national championship since 2008 for the Bears, who were skating in their 19th CIS title match, another all-time mark. With the win, Alberta improved to 6-0 overall this season against its archrival from the Canada West conference.
The final of the PotashCorp University Cup presented by Co-op was played in front of 6,289 fans at Credit Union Centre, lifting the seven-game total to 41,089, a new standard for the 52-year-old tournament. The previous standard of 40,956 had been set in 2000 at Credit Union Centre, then known as Saskatchewan Place.
“It was a long time coming,” said Ian Herbers, who was in his second campaign behind the U of A bench and had won a title as a player with the Bears back in 1992. The guys worked so hard all year, going back to their off-season training last summer. There’s so much leadership in our locker room. The focus and determination of our player was phenomenal.
“We’re a hard-working team, that’s Bears hockey. This weekend we were very aggressive on the forecheck and on the penalty-kill. We were able to play three very solid games and that’s what you need to win this championship.”
His Saskatchewan counterpart Dave Adolph, whose program’s lone CIS title dates back to 1983, was proud of his troops despite the heartbreaking loss.
“It’s hard to win a national championship. Our guys gave it everything they had. They fought their way to credibility and proved they belonged in this tournament. Today, they just ran into a powerhouse.”
The game’s turning point came with five minutes remaining in the second frame. Up 1-0 thanks to a Jordan Hickmott goal early in the period, the Bears found themselves down one man for five minutes after Johnny Lazo earned a major penalty and a game misconduct for hitting an opponent from behind.
With one minute to go in the major, Koper and James Dobrowolski were able to take off on a two-on-one and Koper took a perfect pass from his teammate before beating netminder Ryan Holfeld with a high wrist shot on the glove side.
A few moments earlier, Matthew Spafford came inches away from tying the contest at one all but his backhand shot hit the post to the left of veteran goalie Kurtis Mucha.
“I’m not going to lie, on the winning goal, I kind of closed my eyes and hoped it goes in,” said Koper, who was named player of the match for Alberta. It’s an amazing feeling. There are no words to describe how we feel right now.”
Unfazed by the two-goal deficit, the Huskies needed only one minute to respond and get on the board. Left uncovered in front of the net, Canada West MVP Derek Hulak received the puck from Josh Roach and one-timed it past Mucha.
“We gave everything we had for three straight games. We left nothing on the ice, said Hulak, who, despite the loss, merited the Major W.J. Danny McLeod Award as tournament MVP after leading the competition in goals (4) and points (6). “Hats off to Alberta, they’re a formidable team.”
In the third, Alberta was able to protect its slim lead and Koper finally added an insurance marker with six minutes left in regulation, once again on a two-on-one, this one with Travis Toomey.
The Bears finished with a significant 36-21 advantage in shots on goal, including 7-5 in the first stanza, 13-8 in the second and 16-8 in the third.
Both teams were blanked on the power play, Alberta in six occasions and Saskatchewan on three opportunities.
In addition to Hulak (4-2-6), Bears forwards Brett Ferguson (1-4-5) and Kruise Reddick (1-3-4), Alberta defenceman Jesse Craig, Saskatchewan rearguard Kendall McFaull and goalie Jacob Gervais-Chouinard from the McGill Redmen were named championship all-stars.
GAME NOTES: In the preliminary round, Alberta took first place in Pool A thanks to a 3-2 win over Carleton and a 3-2 victory in double overtime against McGill… Saskatchewan topped Pool B following wins over Acadia, 3-2, and Windsor, 9-0… It was the second CIS final between Alberta and Saskatchewan, with the Bears winning the only previous gold-medal duel 4-3 in extra time in 2005 at Edmonton… The 2005 championship match was also the only previous final between Canada West teams.
MVP (Major W.J. ‘Danny’ McLeod Award): Derek Hulak, Saskatchewan
Goaltender: Jacob Gervais-Chouinard, McGill
Defenceman: Jesse Craig, Alberta
Defenceman: Kendall McFaull, Saskatchewan
Forward: Derek Hulak, Saskatchewan
Forward: Brett Ferguson, Alberta
Forward: Kruise Reddick, Alberta
Ferguson (ALB) holding, 6:15;
Stebner (SSK) roughing, 8:05;
Rowley (ALB) tripping, 18:21;
McDonald (SSK) high sticking, 18:29;
Delahey (SSK) checking from behind, 10-minute misconduct, 20:00.
1. ALB Jordan Hickmott (1) (Brett Ferguson, Jamie Crooks), 4:02
2. ALB Levko Koper (1) (James Dobrowolski), 15:19 SH
3. SSK Derek Hulak (4) (Joshua Roach, Brennan Bosch), 16:38
Dulle (SSK) elbowing, 6:51;
Lazo (ALB) major-boarding, game misconduct, 11:16;
Cox (SSK) high sticking, 19:15.
4. ALB Levko Koper (2) (Travis Toomey), 14:12
Smuk (SSK) boarding, 6:02.
GOALS (by period)
ALB 0-2-1: 3
SSK 0-1-0: 1
SHOTS ON GOAL (by period)
ALB 7-13-16: 36
SSK 5-8-8: 21
ALB – Kurtis Mucha (W, 2-0, 21 shots, 20 saves, 1 GA, 60:00)
SSK – Ryan Holfeld (L, 2-1, 36 shots, 33 saves, 3 GA, 59:14)
SSK – Empty net (0 GA, 0:46)
PLAYERS OF THE GAME:
ALB: Levko Koper
SSK: Ryan Holfeld
REFEREES: Nathan Wieler, Pascal St. Jacques
LINESMEN: Nick Bilko, Ryan Lundquist
POOL STANDINGS, SCHEDULE & RESULTS (LOCAL TIME)
Pool A standings (FINAL)
GP W L GF GA PTS
1. ALB 2 2 0 6 4 4
2. McG 2 1 1 5 5 2
3. CAR 2 0 2 4 6 0
Pool B standings (FINAL)
1. SSK 2 2 0 12 2 4
2. WSR 2 1 1 4 11 2
3. ACA 2 0 2 4 7 0
Thursday, March 20
13:00 Pool A #1: Alberta 3, Carleton 2
19:00 Pool B #1: Windsor 4, Acadia 2
Friday, March 21
13:00 Pool A #2: McGill 3, Carleton 2
19:00 Pool B #2: Saskatchewan 3, Acadia 2
Saturday, March 22
14:00 Pool A #3: Alberta 3, McGill 2 (2OT)
19:00 Pool B #3: Saskatchewan 9, Windsor 0
Sunday, March 23
13:30 Final: Alberta 3, Saskatchewan 1