CIS men’s hockey Friday roundup: Golden Bears win 52nd Canada West crown

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Mar 06, 2015

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Calgary 1 Alberta 2 Final Box Score | Recap
Canada West Final Series Game 2

EDMONTON – Freshman forward Stephane Legault scored a breakaway goal at 17:50 of the third period to propel the University of Alberta Golden Bears hockey team to a thrilling 2-1 victory in the Canada West championship final against the Calgary Dinos in front of 2,800 fans at Clare Drake Arena on Friday night.

Legault, the Canada West Rookie of the Year, took a feed from fourth-year forward Brett Ferguson and raced in on goalie Jacob DeSerres, beating him with a low snapshot over the pad and below the blocker. The goal was the former Edmonton Oil King’s second of the playoffs, and it cemented Alberta’s comeback win.

The Bears trailed Calgary 1-0 midway through the third period, but scored twice in the final six minutes to pick up the 2-0 series sweep, as well as the program’s 52nd Canada West title, third consecutive and 13th in the last 15 seasons.

“The character in that room, the leadership in that room, combined with our history of excellence really drives guys forward,” said third-year Golden Bears head coach Ian Herbers. “We just kept going. They weren’t satisfied and they didn’t want to lose tonight. It would have been easy, after they scored first, to give in and go to game three thinking they’d be tired, but our guys wanted this tonight.”

“We felt like we couldn’t lose,” added Legault. “The building was rocking, we were all going, but also we had a lot of chances and weren’t taking advantage of them. I know I missed a few opportunities in that second period, but we believed in our game and ourselves. And then captain clutch scored, and we knew that the game was there for the taking.”

Kruise Reddick, the Golden Bears captain, scored the game tying goal, at 13:46 of the third period, when he finished off a play started by Levko Koper and Johnny Lazo.

“It’s never a bad play to give the puck to Kruise,” marveled fifth-year forward Lazo. “Whenever you hear him yelling on the ice, it’s always a good idea to get the puck to him because he always rises to the occasion and delivers.”

The Dinos opened the scoring at 8:34 of the final frame when Brooks Myers solved Alberta sophomore goalie Luke Siemens from the lip of the crease.

The U of C program gave the University of Alberta a battle in game two, one night after they lost 5-2 and were outshot 39-9.

“We knew they’d have a bounce back game today and they came out and really threw everything at us in the first period,” noted Herbers. “I like the way we responded. We bent, we took the pressure, but we never broke and then we started getting our game going.”

The Dinos started the contest by outshooting Alberta 5-0 in the early going, and then finished the opening 20 minutes with more shots, 10, than they did in the entirety of Thursday’s game one.

The contest really opened up in the second period, with both teams trading chances, but both Siemens and DeSerres, the 2014 Canada West Goalie of the Year, were stellar between the pipes. DeSerres was especially sharp as the Bears outshot Calgary 16-3 in the middle frame, but couldn’t get anthing past him.

The Alberta onslaught continued in the third, but it was Calgary that struck first. Myers broke the goalless draught when he slammed a loose puck up and over Siemens for the lead.

Though the 2,800 fans in attendance were shaken by the goal, they were soon shaking the walls of the historic Clare Drake Arena again as the Bears rang up successive chances, including shots that beat DeSerres, but not the ironwork, by Jamie Crooks and Canada West Defenceman of the Year Jesse Craige.

Finally, with 6:14 left in the contest, Reddick sent the fans into a frenzy when he ripped a quick shot from the slot past DeSerres.

Just over four minutes later, Ferguson intercepted a Dinos pass at centre ice, and then split the Calgary defence pairing with his tape-to-tape pass to a streaking Legault at the Dinos’ blueline. The rookie forward won the game with his perfectly placed shot, at 17:50, causing the Clare Drake Arena faithful to erupt.

“It was great to see that tonight,” said Herbers. “I know the football team was out tonight as well as a lot of the other Golden Bears and Pandas student-athletes and teams too. We think we have the best barn in Canada West, and the University of Alberta student body and our fan base showed why tonight.”

“It was incredible in the Drake tonight,” added Lazo. “In all of my five years, I have never experienced a crowd like that. That was an awesome crowd to play in front of, and get the win in front of. I couldn’t be more thankful to everyone who came out and supported us tonight. It’s kind of bittersweet for me, this was my last game in the Drake, but to go out like that, in front of a crowd like that, was amazing.”

Lazo, Craige, goalie Kurtis Mucha and forwards Drew Nichol and Zack Dailey are the fifth-year Golden Bears who saw their last game action in the venerable U of A arena on Friday.

The Golden Bears will now advance, likely, as the No.1 seed for the University Cup tournament, which will be hosted by St. Francis Xavier University in Halifax, Nova Scotia beginning on March 12.
Calgary, featuring fifth-year players Kodie Curran, Colton Grant and Walker Wintoneak, is also off to the national championship tournament.

The Alberta rivals will join a field that features that Atlantic University Sport champions, the UNB Varsity Reds, as well as the host St. FX X-Men, the AUS silver medalists, the Acadia Axemen and the OUA Queen’s Cup finalists Guelph and UQTR. Either McGill or Windsor will fill the final remaining spot at the 2015 University Cup.

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