FREDERICTON (U SPORTS) – Fourth ranked Queen's University Gaels had an uncomfortable trip through a snowstorm en route to their appearance at the 2017 U SPORTS Cavendish Farms University Cup, only to face the fifth ranked University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds, who buried the Gaels in a flurry of shots and goals. UNB outshot Queen's 40–15, and came out on the winning end of a 5–1 score.
University Cup website: www.universitycup.ca
Philippe Maillet (Terrebonne, Que) scored three times to lead the tournament host Varsity Reds, who are also the defending University Cup champions. Chris Clapperton (Cap Espoir, Que.) and Phillippe Halley (Quebec City, Que.) rounded out the scoring for the V-Reds.
The Gaels opened the scoring at 2:21 of the first period, when Spencer Abraham (Campbellville, Ont) scored with the first shot on UNB goaltender Etienne Marcoux (Terrebonne, Que). Thirty nine seconds later though, Maillet scored the first of his three goals against Kevin Baillie (Belleville, Ont).
UNB coach Gardiner McDougall said the early goal by Queen's was a bit of a wake up for the V-Reds. "We needed something to ground that energy, and the most important shift of the game was the next one, when Phil (Maillet) scored to get us into the game and to get the crowd into the game." The game was a sellout, with more than 3300 boisterous fans in attendance.
During Wednesday night's awards ceremony, Maillet was named the U SPORTS Player of the Year, and received the Senator Joseph A. Sullivan trophy recognizing his league leading 55-point season. His hat trick in Thursday's game made for another milestone, but Maillet was quick to mention the win as a team victory. "Obviously it was a special game for me, but this was about a team win. I liked how we played, overall."
Queen's goalie Baillie said he knew what Maillet could do, and did his best against him. "I wish I had played a little better. Tonight, it would have taken a perfect game to get the job done, and I did not get that done," he said. "That shot by (Maillet) maybe had the width of two pucks that could have fit in there, and he did it. That's not a shot even many professional players can make, but he did it and hats off to him."
Many of the fans hats were off to Maillet too, as the ice was littered with hats that delayed the game a few minutes. "I got a big basket of them waiting for me," said Maillet, of the long-standing tradition where fans throw their hats onto the ice to acknowledge three goals by a player.
Gaels' coach Brett Gibson said, in spite of the loss, he was very proud of his players. "We have two choices in life," he said. "You can complain about the hand you're given, the weather, the circumstances, the schedule, or you can take the high road. My players chose to take the high road. In that storm, we had to book a hotel, and when we got there, found families without rooms in the lobby. My players gave up four rooms, slept four to a room, so the other families would be accommodated. They took the high road."
The Varsity Reds will now advance to the first semi final game, to be held at noon local time on Saturday. They will face the Acadia Axemen, who defeated the University of Alberta Golden Bears earlier. This semi final between two teams from the Atlantic University Sport (AUS) league guarantees that one team from that conference will be in the national final.
Maillet was the Adidas Player of the Game for UNB, while Spencer Abraham earned the honour for Queen's. Abraham had one goal on three shots and was -1 in the game.
Saturday will see two semi-final games, at noon and at 4:00 pm local time. The Bronze Medal game will be at 9:30 on Sunday, and the Gold Medal game will be at 1:00pm local time. The University of New Brunswick is hosting the four-day tournament.