University of New Brunswick, Fredericton, New Brunswick. | March 16 - 19

2017 U Sports University Cup Men's Hockey Championship

PREVIEW 2016 CIS men’s hockey University Cup: Golden Bears look for rare three-peat in Halifax

OTTAWA (CIS) – The University of Alberta Golden Bears are looking for a rare three-peat at this week’s CIS men’s hockey championship in Halifax but if they are to add to their record collection of 15 University Cup titles, they’ll have to upset a few higher-seeded opponents along the way.

The eight-team competition, hosted by Saint Mary’s University, gets under way Thursday at the Scotiabank Centre and culminates Sunday at 6:30 p.m. Atlantic Time (5:30 p.m. Eastern) with the gold-medal final, live on Sportsnet 360 and TVA Sports 2. Saturday’s semifinals are also live on Sportsnet 360 and TVA Sports (noon & 4 p.m. Atlantic), while the quarter-finals and the bronze-medal match are set to air on Eastlink TV. All eight games from the championship will be webcast on www.CIS-SIC.tv.

The OUA champion UQTR Patriotes head into the tournament as the top seed, followed by the No. 2 Saskatchewan Huskies (Canada West champs), No. 3 St. Francis Xavier X-Men (AUS champs), No. 4 Western Mustangs (OUA finalists), No. 5 UNB Varsity Reds (AUS finalists), No. 6 Alberta (Canada West finalists), No. 7 Carleton Ravens (OUA bronze medallists) and No. 8 Saint Mary’s Huskies (hosts).

The quarter-final matchups include Carleton vs. Saskatchewan (4 p.m.) and Alberta vs. StFX (8 p.m.) on Thursday, followed by UNB vs. Western (4 p.m.) and Saint Mary’s vs. UQTR (8 p.m.) on Friday.

The Golden Bears, crowned a year ago at the Scotiabank Centre and in 2014 in Saskatoon, have achieved the University Cup three-peat once in their storied history, from 1978 to 1980. The only other program to accomplish the feat is Toronto, which claimed a remarkable five straight banners under legendary coach Tom Watt from 1969 to 1973.

Among this week’s contenders, UNB (5), UQTR (4), Saskatchewan (1), StFX (1), Western (1) and Saint Mary’s (1) have also hoisted the coveted trophy over the years, while Carleton is looking for its first triumph.

UQTR earned the No. 1 seed for the national tourney thanks to a 4-3 overtime win over Western in Saturday’s Queen’s Cup final in London, which capped an unblemished 7-0 playoff run for the Patriotes, who also kept the best record in the country in conference play (24-3-1). This marks the fourth time in program history that Trois-Rivières has entered the competition as the top seed, after 1999 (fifth place), 1992 (third place) and 1991 (champions). 

The Patriotes, who settled for fourth place at last year’s tournament, have always been known for their exciting, high-scoring brand of hockey and this year has been no exception. Led by third-year right-winger Guillaume Asselin, the OUA player of the year who led the country in goals (27) and points (47) in league play, UQTR posted the best offensive record in the nation with five goals per game and ranked third on the power play, clicking at a 29.9 per cent pace.

“We’re proud to have accomplished our first goal of returning to the national championship for the second straight season,” said third-year head coach Marc-Étienne Hubert, who was on the Patriotes roster for their two most recent University Cup triumphs in 2001 and 2003. “This season marked a changing of the guard of sort for us with many new players coming in at key positions, and the guys obviously answered the call. The CIS championship is the end result of all the efforts we put in throughout the season and we can’t wait to get started.”

Returning to the CIS tourney after a one-year absence, second-seeded Saskatchewan enjoyed a superb Canada West season, finishing atop the standings for the first time since 2000 with a 22-6 record before adding four straight wins in the playoffs, including a sweep of archrival Alberta in the best-of-three league final. Sophomore goaltender Jordon Cooke (2.52 GAA / .921) set a team record with 19 conference wins and became the first netminder to be named Canada West MVP since 1994. 

“We are excited to get on the ice in Halifax and compete for the University Cup. We’ve had a great week of practice since winning the Canada West championship and our players are coming in to this tournament focussed and ready to play at the highest level,” said 23-year bench boss Dave Adolph, who was in the lineup when the Huskies captured their lone CIS title in 1983. “With so many young guys on our roster we are going to need to lean on the veteran experience of those who have been at the competition in the past.”

After finishing second behind UNB in the Atlantic during the regular season, No. 3 StFX stunned the Varsity Reds in two contests in the AUS final, putting an abrupt end to their rivals’ 19-game overall winning streak. The X-Men are led by league MVP Eric Locke, who missed the conference scoring title by three points after posting 14-21-35 in 28 games.  

“We are very excited to be back in Halifax for the CIS championship. After getting a taste of it last year as the host, we are now looking forward to taking our group back for another shot at it,” said 11-year coach Brad Peddle, whose troops were ousted in the opening round by eventual champion Alberta in 2015. “It’s a tremendous event in a great hockey market, where the competition will be outstanding.”

Fourth-seeded Western kind of flew under the radar this season, almost completely disappearing from the national rankings from late November to the end of February, before making a push in the playoffs. The Mustangs advanced to their first University Cup tournament since 2012 thanks to a convincing 5-1 win in the third and decisive game of the OUA West final against 2015 conference champion and CIS bronze medallist Guelph.

“We will approach things one day at a time, one shift at a time, just like we have all year,” said 16-year coach Clarke Singer, who guided the Mustangs to their lone national title in 2002. “We’re going to have to be great, there’s no room for good anymore. The top eight teams in the nation are here in Halifax for this tournament so we will have to bring our very best.”

After hitting a rough patch in November, losing four of five over a three-week period to drop to 9-5 in league play, UNB got red-hot and ended the regular season on a 14-game winning streak before sweeping UPEI in three straight in the AUS semifinals. Despite back-to-back losses to StFX in the conference final, the Varsity Reds have to be considered among the favourites going into the CIS championship after placing second in the nation in both offence (4.64 goal per game) and defence (2.18) in league action.

“Our team has been on a year-long mission of “continuous improvement,” and we are looking forward to continuing this special pursuit later this week,” said 16-year mentor Gardiner MacDougall, whose program captured four CIS banners in seven years from 2007 to 2013 and returned to the national final last winter against Alberta.

Two-time reigning champion Alberta hasn’t been as dominant as in recent years this season, but never count the Golden Bears out come University Cup time. The Bears’ potent roster includes no less than seven veterans from their 2014 and 2015 championship runs, including team captain Kruise Reddick, who was named MVP of last year’s national tournament after he scored the game-winner against UNB in the final. The powerhouse from Edmonton also boasts the most efficient power play unit in the country (30.5%).

“Our success will come down to elevating our attention to details, relentless effort in all three zones, and a strong commitment to team defence,” said first-year bench boss Serge Lajoie, a former CIS player of the year for Alberta who took over this year from Ian Herbers, now an assistant coach in the NHL with the Edmonton Oilers. “When our structure in the defensive zone is strong, it allows us to transition quickly and push the pace offensively, which is emblematic of Golden Bears hockey.”

Carleton has been in a three-way battle with UQTR and McGill in the OUA East in recent years, and this season was no different. Led by rookie phenom Brett Welychka, who finished one point behind OUA MVP Guillaume Asselin in the CIS scoring race thanks to a 14-32-36 tally in 27 contests, the Ravens settled for third place behind their rivals in conference play before sweeping the Redmen in the OUA East semis and dropping back-to-back decisions against the Patriotes in the division final. Carleton and its CIS-leading defence (2.15 GAA) recovered and booked its ticket to Halifax with 4-1 win over Guelph in the OUA bronze-medal match.

“We are excited to be returning to the University Cup. The team has been working very hard since the pre-season to get to this point,” said sixth-year head coach Marty Johnston. “We will rely on our experienced group of veterans - led by Joey West, Mike McNamee and Mitch Zion - to have us focused for the opening puck-drop in our first game. Anything can happen in single-elimination play. We will have to be ready to go against the very best in the country.”

Last but not least, tournament host Saint Mary’s hopes to build on a strong second half of the season in its quest for the program’s second national title. The Huskies won 10 of 13 league games after the December break and then swept Moncton in the first round of the AUS playoffs before losing to StFX in four in the best-of-five semis.

“Regardless of how any teams got here, we all have a chance to be the best team in Canada come Sunday,” said 19-year coach Trevor Stienburg, who guided the Huskies to their lone University Cup title in 2010 in Thunder Bay and to a return trip to the CIS gold-medal game in 2013.

NOTES: The traditional meet-the-teams media conference is scheduled for Wednesday at 11 a.m. Atlantic Time at the Scotiabank Centre... The All-Canadian Dinner & Gala is set for Wednesday evening at the Halifax Marriott Harbourfront Hotel.

PARTICIPATING TEAMS

NO. 1 UQTR PATRIOTES

Team statistics
Head Coach: Marc-Étienne Hubert (3rd season)
Regular season record: 24-3-1
Regular season standing: 1st OUA East (1st OUA overall)
Playoff record: 7-0
Playoff finish: OUA champions
Overall record vs. CIS teams: 34-4
Top 10 final ranking (March 13): No. 1
Top 10 best ranking: No. 1 (1 week)
Top 10 number of weeks ranked (19 polls): 19
National ranking (offence): 1st (5.00)
National ranking (defence): 5th (2.32)
National ranking (power play): 3rd (29.9)
National ranking (penalty kill): 21st (80.8)

Individual statistics
Conference award winners (OUA East): Guillaume Asselin (MVP), Marc-Étienne Hubert (coach)
Conference 1st team all-stars (OUA East): Guillaume Asselin (F)
Conference 2nd team all-stars (OUA East): Sébastien Auger (G), Martin-Lefebvre (D), Tommy Giroux (F)
Conference all-rookie team (OUA East): Sébastien Auger (G), Charles-David Beaudoin (D), Mathieu Lemay (F)
Season leader (points): Guillaume Asselin, 27-20-47 (28 GP)
Season leader (goals): Guillaume Asselin, 27 (28 GP)
Season leader (assists): Pierre-Olivier Morin, 26 (25 GP)
Season leader (points by defenceman): Martin Lefebvre, 9-24-33 (28 GP)
Season leader (goalie): Sébastien Auger (27 GP, 23-4, 2 SHO, 2.44 GAA, .927)

University Cup History
Appearances:  20th
Last appearance: 2015 (4th place)
All-time record: 21-21 (.500)
Best result: 4-time champions (2003, 2001, 1991, 1987)
Sequence: 2nd consecutive appearance (3rd in 4 years)

NO. 2 SASKATCHEWAN HUSKIES

Team statistics
Head Coach: Dave Adolph (23rd season)
Regular season record: 22-6-0
Regular season standing: 1st Canada West
Playoff record: 4-0
Playoff finish: Canada West Champions
Overall record vs. CIS teams: 28-7
Top 10 final ranking (March 13): No. 2
Top 10 best ranking: No. 1 (3 weeks)
Top 10 number of weeks ranked (19 polls): 19
National ranking (offence): 6th (4.04)
National ranking (defence): 8th (2.56)
National ranking (power play): 5th (23.0)
National ranking (penalty kill): 20th (80.8)

Individual statistics
Conference award winners: Jordon Cooke (MVP & goalie), Kohl Bauml (rookie)
Conference 1st team all-stars: Jordon Cooke (G), Kendall McFaull (D)
Conference 2nd team all-stars: Jordan Fransoo (D)
Conference all-rookie team: Kohl Bauml (F), Levi Cable (F)
Season leader (points): Kohl Bauml, 12-21-33 (28 GP)
Season leader (goals): Levi Cable, 16 (26 GP)
Season leader (assists): Kohl Bauml, 21 (28 GP)
Season leader (points by defenceman): Jordan Fransoo, 3-16-19 (24 GP)
Season leader (goalie): Jordon Cooke (24 GP, 19-5, 2 SHO, 2.52 GAA, .921)

University Cup History
Appearances: 17th  
Last appearance: 2014 (finalists)
All-time record: 18-20 (.474)
Best result: Champions (1983)
Sequence: Return after 1-year absence (4th appearance in 5 years)

NO. 3 StFX X-MEN

Team statistics
Head Coach: Brad Peddle (11th season)
Regular season record: 18-6-4
Regular season standing: 2nd AUS
Playoff record: 5-1
Playoff finish: AUS champions
Overall record vs. CIS teams: 24-13
Top 10 final ranking (March 13): No. 3
Top 10 best ranking: No. 3 (1 week)
Top 10 number of weeks ranked (19 polls): 17
National ranking (offence): 9th (3.75)
National ranking (defence): 13th (2.64)
National ranking (power play): 31st (13.4)
National ranking (penalty kill): 18th (81.7)

Individual statistics
Conference award winners: Eric Locke (MVP), Brad Peddle (coach), Nathan Chiarlitti (student-athlete)
Conference 1st team all-stars: Eric Locke (F)
Conference 2nd team all-stars: Drew Owsley (G), Nathan Chiarlitti (D)
Conference all-rookie team: Holden Cook (F)
Season leader (points): Eric Locke, 14-21-35 (28 GP)
Season leader (goals): Eric Locke, 14 (28 GP)
Season leader (assists): Eric Locke, 21 (28 GP) / Kristoff Kontos, 21 (28 GP)
Season leader (points by defenceman): Nathan Chiarlitti, 3-12-15 (28 GP)
Season leader (goalie): Drew Owsley (24 GP, 16-8, 0 SHO, 2.54 GAA, .914)

University Cup History
Appearances: 13th
Last appearance: 2015 (lost in quarter-finals)
All-time record: 14-13 (.519)
Best result: Champions (2004)
Sequence: 2nd consecutive appearance

NO. 4 WESTERN MUSTANGS

Team statistics
Head Coach: Clarke Singer (16th season)
Regular season record: 18-10-0
Regular season standing: 2nd OUA West
Playoff record: 6-3
Playoff finish: OUA finalists
Overall record vs. CIS teams: 27-13
Top 10 final ranking (March 13): No. 5
Top 10 best ranking: No. 5 (2 weeks)
Top 10 number of weeks ranked (19 polls): 10
National ranking (offence): 10th (3.68)
National ranking (defence): 16th (3.00)
National ranking (power play): 18th (17.7)
National ranking (penalty kill): 18th (84.4)

Individual statistics
Conference award winners (OUA West): None
Conference 1st team all-stars (OUA West): None
Conference 2nd team all-stars (OUA West): None
Conference all-rookie team (OUA West): None
Season leader (points): Matt Marantz, 5-21-26 (24 GP)
Season leader (goals): Shaun Furlong, 9 (25 GP) / Andrew Goldberg, 9 (26 GP)
Season leader (assists): Matt Marantz, 21 (24 GP)
Season leader (points by defenceman): Alex Micallef, 4-11-15 (26 GP)
Season leader (goalie): Greg Dodds (17 GP, 11-4, 0 SHO, 2.64 GAA, .919)

University Cup History
Appearances: 12th
Last appearance: 2012 (finalists)
All-time record: 9-14 (.391)
Best result: Champions (2002)
Sequence: Return after 3-year absence

NO. 5 UNB VARSITY REDS

Team statistics
Head Coach: Gardiner MacDougall (16th season)
Regular season record: 23-3-2
Regular season standing: 1st AUS
Playoff record: 3-2
Playoff finish: AUS finalists
Overall record vs. CIS teams: 28-5
Top 10 final ranking (March 13): No. 4
Top 10 best ranking: No. 1 (8 weeks)
Top 10 number of weeks ranked (19 polls): 19
National ranking (offence): 2nd (4.64)
National ranking (defence): 2nd (2.18)
National ranking (power play): 20th (17.1)
National ranking (penalty kill): 11th (84.8)

Individual statistics
Conference award winners: None
Conference 1st team all-stars: Jordan Murray (D), Philippe Maillet (F)
Conference 2nd team all-stars: None
Conference all-rookie team: Alex Dubeau (G)
Season leader (points): Philippe Maillet, 7-24-31 (17 GP)
Season leaders (goals): Cameron Brace, 15 (26 GP) / Francis Beauvillier, 15 (26 GP)
Season leader (assists): Philippe Maillet, 24 (17 GP)
Season leader (points by defenceman): Jordan Murray, 5-23-28 (27 GP)
Season leader (goalie): Étienne Marcoux (19 GP, 16-2, 1 SHO, 2.11 GAA, .918)

University Cup History
Appearances: 15th  
Last appearance: 2015 (finalists)
All-time record: 27-11 (.711)
Best result: 5-time champions (2013, 2011, 2009, 2007, 1998)
Sequence: 2nd consecutive appearance (8th in 10 years)

NO. 6 ALBERTA GOLDEN BEARS

Team statistics
Head Coach: Serge Lajoie (1st season)
Regular season record: 19-7-2
Regular season standing: 2nd Canada West
Playoff record: 2-2
Playoff finish: Canada West finalists
Overall record vs. CIS teams: 24-11
Top 10 final ranking (March 13): No. 6
Top 10 best ranking: No. 1 (2 weeks)
Top 10 number of weeks ranked (19 polls): 19
National ranking (offence): 3rd (4.14)
National ranking (defence): 3rd (2.29)
National ranking (power play): 1st (30.5)
National ranking (penalty kill): 2nd (87.9)

Individual statistics
Conference award winners: Jordan Rowley (defenceman)
Conference 1st team all-stars: Jordan Rowley (D), Kruise Reddick (F)
Conference 2nd team all-stars: Thomas Carr (D), Jordan Hickmott (F), Levko Koper (F)
Conference all-rookie team: None
Season leader (points): Jordan Hickmott, 11-24-35 (28 GP)
Season leaders (goals): Kruise Reddick, 14 (28 GP) / Levko Koper, 14 (28 GP)
Season leaders (assists): Stephane Legault, 24 (27 GP) / Jordan Hickmott, 24 (28 GP)
Season leader (points by defenceman): Jordan Rowley, 6-18-24 (25 GP)
Season leader (goalie): Luke Siemens (26 GP, 17-8-1, 4 SHO, 2.12 GAA, .906)

University Cup History
Appearances: 39th  
Last appearance: 2015 (champions)
All-time record: 68 wins, 31 losses, 2 ties (.683)
Best result: 15-time champions (2015, ‘14, ‘08, ‘06, ‘05, ‘00, ‘99, ’92, ‘86, ‘80, ‘79, ‘78, ‘75, ‘68, ‘64)
Sequence: 4th consecutive appearance (18th in 20 years)

NO. 7 CARLETON RAVENS
 
Team statistics
Head Coach: Marty Johnston (6th season)
Regular season record: 20-8
Regular season standing: 3rd OUA East
Playoff record: 5-2
Playoff finish: OUA bronze medallists
Overall record vs. CIS teams: 20-8
Top 10 final ranking (March 13): No. 7
Top 10 best ranking: No. 6 (1 week)
Top 10 number of weeks ranked (19 polls): 13
National ranking (offence): 5th (4.11)
National ranking (defence): 1st (2.15)
National ranking (power play): 10th (20.5)
National ranking (penalty kill): 6th (86.0)
 
Individual statistics
Conference award winners (OUA East): Brett Welychka (rookie), Michael McNamee (most sportsmanlike)
Conference 1st team all-stars (OUA East): Brett Welychka (F)
Conference 2nd team all-stars (OUA East): Michael McNamee (F)
Conference all-rookie team (OUA East): Brett Welychka (F)
Season leader (points): Brett Welychka, 14-32-46 (27 GP)
Season leader (goals): Ryan Van Stralen, 22 (28 GP)
Season leader (assists): Brett Welychka, 32 (27 GP)
Season leader (points by defenceman): Jeremie Fraser, 3-19-22 (24 GP)
Season leader (goalie): Francis Dupuis (16 GP, 12-3, 3 SHO, 1.96 GAA, .925)

University Cup History
Appearances: 2nd  
Last appearance: 2014 (3rd in pool)
All-time record: 0-2 (.000)
Best result: 3rd in pool (2014)
Sequence: Return after 1-year absence (2nd appearance in history)

NO. 8 SAINT MARY’S HUSKIES

Team statistics
Head Coach: Trevor Stienburg (19th season)
Regular season record: 17-8-3
Regular season standing: 4th AUS
Playoff record: 3-3
Playoff finish: lost in AUS semi-finalists
Overall record vs. CIS teams: 25-15
Top 10 final ranking (March 13): No. 8
Top 10 best ranking: No. 3 (2 weeks)
Top 10 number of weeks ranked (19 polls): 10
National ranking (offence): 7th (3.89)
National ranking (defence): 9th (2.60)
National ranking (power play): 11th (20.1)
National ranking (penalty kill): 8th (85.5)

Individual statistics
Conference award winners: Ben Duffy (most sportsmanlike)
Conference 1st team all-stars: None
Conference 2nd team all-stars: Stephen MacAulay (F)
Conference all-rookie team: Austyn Hardie (D)
Season leader (points): Stephen MacAulay, 13-21-34 (28 GP)
Season leader (goals): Stephen MacAulay, 13 (28 GP)
Season leader (assists): Stephen MacAulay, 21 (28 GP)
Season leader (points by defenceman): Kyle Pereira, 8-15-23 (28 GP)
Season leader (goalie): Cole Cheveldave (21 GP, 12-9, 1 SHO, 2.45 GAA, .904)

University Cup History
Appearances: 13th  
Last appearance: 2013 (finalists)
All-time record: 17-17 (.500)
Best result: Champions (2010)
Sequence: Return after 2-year absence

CHAMPIONSHIP SCHEDULE (all times ATLANTIC TIME)

Wednesday, March 16
7:55-17:15 60-minute practices OPEN TO MEDIA (Scotiabank Centre)  
11:00 Meet the Teams Media Conference (Scotiabank Centre)
18:30 All-Canadian Dinner & Gala (Halifax Marriott Harbourfront Hotel)

Thursday, March 17
16:00 Quarter-final 1: No. 7 Carleton vs. No. 2 Saskatchewan (Eastlink TV / www.CIS-SIC.tv)  
20:00 Quarter-final 2: No. 6 Alberta vs. No. 3 StFX (Eastlink TV / www.CIS-SIC.tv)  

Friday, March 18
16:00 Quarter-final 3: No. 5 UNB vs. No. 4 Western (Eastlink TV / www.CIS-SIC.tv)  
20:00 Quarter-final 4: No. 8 Saint Mary’s vs. No. 1 UQTR (Eastlink TV / www.CIS-SIC.tv)  

Saturday, March 19
12:00 Semifinal 1: Winner QF 1 vs. Winner QF 2 (SN 360 & TVA Sports / www.CIS-SIC.tv) *  
16:00 Semifinal 2: Winner QF 3 vs. Winner QF 4 (SN 360 & TVA Sports / www.CIS-SIC.tv) *  

Sunday, March 20
14:00 Bronze (Eastlink TV / www.CIS-SIC.tv)  
18:30 Final (Sportsnet 360 & TVA Sports 2 / www.CIS-SIC.tv) *  

* Webcast of the semifinals & final are on pay-per-view basis.

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