The University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds survived the lowest scoring final in Canadian Interuniversity Sport history to win the University Cup.
Daine Todd and Tyler Carroll, into an empty net, each scored as UNB beat the Saint Mary’s University Huskies 2-0 on Sunday in the championship game.
“That was our seventh or eighth time playing them this year,” said Carroll, who was named tournament MVP. “It’s always the same kind of game we play with them – a dogfight.”
It’s the fifth time the Reds have won the tournament after prior victories in 2011, 2009, 2007 and 1998, all under coach Gardiner MacDougall.
Todd gave UNB an early lead just 10 minutes into the first period, and his team managed to contain the Huskies to the neutral zone for much of the game. UNB finished the game outshooting Saint Mary’s 23-17.
The Huskies pulled goalie Anthony Peters during the last minute of play, allowing Carroll to score on the open net after a centre ice turnover.
MacDougall said his team focused on defence after the first goal.
“It was important to get the lead and protect it,” he said. “When you have the lead you can protect the middle of the ice, the net front and I thought we didn’t give up any second chances.”
The result mirrored the contest between the two teams at the Atlantic University Sports conference championships earlier in March, when UNB also came out on top.
Huskies coach Trevor Stienburg said his team came out slow in the first period, and struggled all game to overcome the Reds defence.
“It was in the trenches, man, it’s ugly and slow,” he said. “We needed a little more time maybe and a break, but we didn’t get it.”
UNB netminder Daniel LaCosta made 17 saves for the shutout. It was only the fifth ever shutout in a CIS final, which he said is an extra reason to celebrate.
“I couldn’t be happier,” he said. “It’ll be a late night tonight for sure in Saskatoon.”
Saint Mary’s Lucas Bloodoff, who was named CIS player of the year, played the game with a broken hand and failed to give his team the offensive boost it needed. He left the tournament without having put up a single point, after being booted out of the two previous games for checks to the head.
The second-seeded Reds blazed past the University of Quebec at Trois-Rivieres Patriotes on Saturday with an 8-3 blowout, while the fourth-seed Huskies got to the finals after a 5-1 victory over the University of Waterloo Warriors.
The University of Alberta Golden Bears, who were eliminated early in the tournament, hold the record for most University Cup wins with 13.
MacDougall said UNB’s frequent CIS championships over the past decade are helping attract top-tier players to his team.
“When you establish a winning culture, people want to come here to win,” he said. “They bring a lot of passion.”