FREDERICTON, N.B. (CIS) - Team captain Evan Vossen scored exactly six minutes into overtime to lead the McGill Redmen to a 4-3 win against the Western Mustangs and the first CIS men's hockey title in program history, Sunday night, at the University of New Brunswick's Aitken Centre.
Cavendish Farms University Cup website: http://english.cis-sic.ca/championships/mice/index
It was only fitting that the Redmen, the oldest hockey team in the world in its 136th season, triumphed in the 50th anniversary edition of the University Cup championship.
Vossen, a senior forward from Swift Current, Sask., who was wearing the McGill jersey for his 216th and last time, took a pass from Alexandre Picard-Hooper inside the blue line, skated through the left face-off circle and beat goaltender Josh Unice through the five-hole with a quick shot along the ice, on a play that was reminiscent of the Stanley Cup-winning OT goal scored by Chicago's Patrick Kane in 2010.
It was the ninth University Cup final decided in overtime, including eight in the last 13 years.
"It's like a storybook ending," said Vossen, who had also scored in Saturday's Pool B finale against Saskatchewan. "It couldn't have been any better for us and for myself. Especially after last year's heartbreak."
McGill had reached the national final for the first time in team history a year ago only to fall 4-0 to host tournament UNB.
"He whiffed," Unice said of Vossen's shot. "They made a good play over the blue line, but I'm pretty sure he tried to go high with it, but it went in (anyway). It sucks."
"I thought my best chance was probably to go high," Vossen admitted. "He played me well, he played me tight, and I really didn't have much. I just got it on net and it found a hole. I'll take it."
Head coach Kelly Nobes, in his second season behind the Redmen bench, couldn't have been happier for his captain.
"It's so fitting that Evan Vossen scored that goal," Nobes said. "What an unbelievable captain this guy's been for the program. He did it at both ends of the ice, for 200 feet. He was a key guy on that penalty kill and then to get the winning goal is just so fitting for our program."
"This is such a huge victory for the McGill hockey program. It's a win for the ages," added Nobes. "This program is bigger than just this team. Redmen Hockey has a large family and this championship is for all of those people. I'm so proud of the guys. Not only are they among the top-student athletes in the country but they are now the top hockey program in the country."
Benoit Lévesque of Vaudreuil, Que., with two, and Nicolas Biniek of Montreal, with his third of the tourney, also scored for McGill. Lévesque earned game-MVP honours for the winners.
With an assist on Vossen's game-winner, Picard-Hooper, a fourth-year centre from Boucherville, Que., registered his 266th career point overall, one shy of the all-time school reord held by Tim Iannone since 1990. The helper also gave last year's CIS player of the year the tournament scoring title with six points (1-5-6).
Picard-Hooper was voted to the all-tournament team along with teammates Francis Verreault-Paul, a forward from Mashteuiatsh, Que., and Marc-André Dorion, a defenceman from St. Hubert, Que., as well as Unice and forward Keaton Turkiewicz of Western, and UNB rearguard Jonathan Harty.
Verreault-Paul, who had been named McGill player of the game in each of the Redmen's two pool play match-ups, finished the tournament with a 3-2-5 mark and received the Major W.J. 'Danny' McLeod Award as the most valuable player of the championship.
The fourth-year sniper had to watch the end of the final on a TV monitor however after he was ejected from the game with 7:14 left in regulation. With his team holding on to a 3-2 lead, Verreault-Paul was assessed a five-minute major and a game misconduct for charging the goalie on a partial breakaway.
Western needed only 32 seconds to take advantage of the golden opportunity and tied the contest when Turkiewicz deflected a Kevin Baker shot for his second goal of the night. The all-Canadian senior from Brantford, Ont., who led the nation in the regular season with 47 points in 28 matches, finished the weekend with five points, including a tournament-leading four goals.
Baker, a fourth-year centre from Georgetown, Ont., had the other marker for the Mustangs.
"I didn't see the replay but I didn't want to hit the goalie, obviously. I was on a (partial) breakaway and the guy tripped me. Maybe I deserved two minutes but not five," said Verreault-Paul, who led the OUA in conference play with 21 goals in only 23 games. "I was so proud of Evan and so happy for him. He's a clutch player and a tremendous captain. He deserved it."
Clarke Singer, the 13-year Western head coach who led the Mustangs to their lone University Cup title in 2002, praised his opponents and his own troops.
"First of all I want to give credit to McGill. They had a great season and a great tournament. We certainly would have loved to see it go a different way but that's sports I guess. I'm very proud of our guys, they left it all on the ice," said Singer, whose team had dropped a 4-1 decision to McGill in the OUA final two weeks ago. "We would have needed a second goal on that five-minute power play but McGill did a great job on the PK."
"Josh was our best player in the playoffs and he was our best player this weekend," said Singer about his all-tournament goaltender. "He gave us a chance to win every game this weekend and that's all you can ask of your goaltender."
Unice turned aside 36 of 40 pucks fired his way by McGill and averaged 38 saves in his three starts at the championship. The native of Holland, Ohio, had been named the Mustangs' game MVP in their two pool-play duels following 41 and 35-save performances.
The Redmen outshot Western 29-10 in the first two periods and finished with a 40-27 advantage.
McGill dominated the play for most of the first frame. Verreault-Paul almost opened the scoring three minutes in but he hit the post to the right of Unice on a wrap-around.
It was the Mustangs who got on the board first however. The Redmen were caught with too many men on the ice at 7:21 and Western made them pay only 77 seconds later. Turkiewicz skated around the net and beat outstretched netminder Hubert Morin, who was caught out of position.
McGill responded at 15:38. Dorion, the CIS defenceman of the year, took a pass at the blue line, skated around a sprawling opponent, threw the puck in front of the net and Lévesque tipped it in.
Lévesque gave McGill its first lead of the evening only 48 seconds into the second stanza. The sophomore left-winger pushed a rebound past Unice after the goalie stopped Marc-André Daneau twice from up close.
Western tied it up at 2-2 with 6:11 left before the second intermission. Rearguard Scott Aarssen found Baker to the right of the net with a perfect cross-ice pass and the sniper easily beat an outstretched Morin, who had no chance on the play.
McGill jumped back in the lead less than two minutes later. On a two-on-one rush, Christophe Longpré-Poirier patiently waited until the last second and passed the puck to Biniek, who deflected it into an empty cage.
Turkiewicz score the lone goal in the third, setting the table for Vossen's overtime heroics.
GAME NOTES: Second-seeded McGill took first place in Pool B in the preliminary round after a 6-3 win over Moncton on Thursday and a 4-3 loss to Saskatchewan on Saturday. All three teams in the group finished with identical 1-1 records but the Redmen advanced to the final thanks to a better goal differential... Fourth-seeded Western finished first in Pool A after edging UQTR 3-2 in overtime on Friday and upsetting top-ranked UNB 3-2 on Saturday... The Cavendish Farms University Cup championship was once again a success in Fredericton as all seven contests were played in front of sold-out crowds of 3,750... The CIS men's hockey championship will be held in Saskatoon in 2013 and 2014.
MVP (Major W.J. 'Danny' McLeod Award): Francis Verreault-Paul, McGill
Goaltender: Josh Unice, Western
Defenceman: Marc-André Dorion, McGill
Defenceman: Jonathan Harty, UNB
Forward: Francis Verreault-Paul, McGill
Forward: Alexandre Picard-Hooper, McGill
Forward: Keaton Turkiewicz, Western
McGill 4, Western 3 (OT)
1. WES Keaton Turkiewicz (3) (Zach Harnden, Kevin Baker), 8:38 PP
2. McG Benoit Lévesque (1) (Marc-André Dorion, Maxime Langelier-Parent), 15:38
Bench (McG) too many men (served by Nicolas Biniek), 7:21;
Matt Ashman (WES) cross checking, 9:01;
Andrew Eastman (WES) hooking, 18:27.
3. McG Benoit Lévesque (2) (Marc-André Daneau, Marc-Olivier Vachon), 0:48
4. WES Kevin Baker (1) (Scott Aarssen, Geoff Killing), 13:49
5. McG Nicolas Biniek (3) (Christophe Longpré-Poirier, Francis Verreault-Paul), 15:27
Hubert Genest (McG) high sticking, 1:14;
Matt Ashman (WES) interference, 17:35.
6. WES Keaton Turkiewicz (4) (Kevin Baker, Scott Aarssen), 14:18 PP
Francis Verreault-Paul (McG) charging major, game misconduct, 12:46.
7. McG Evan Vossen (2) (Alexandre Picard-Hooper, Andrew Wright), 6:00
GOALS (by period)
McG: 1-2-0-1: 4
WES: 1-1-1-0: 3
SHOTS ON GOAL (by period)
McG: 14-15-7-4: 40
WES: 7-3-14-3: 27
McG - Hubert Morin (W, 2-1, 27 shots, 24 saves, 3 GA, 66:00)
WES - Josh Unice (L, 2-1, 40 shots, 37 saves, 4 GA, 66:00)
PLAYERS OF THE GAME:
McG: Benoit Lévesque
WES: Keaton Turkiewicz
REFEREES: Sean Reid, Jonathan Langille
LINESMEN: Jay Doiron, Mike MacDonnell
ATTENDANCE: 3,750 (sellout)
POOL STANDINGS & RESULTS (all times ATLANTIC TIME)
Pool A standings (FINAL)
GP W L GF GA PTS
1. Western 2 2 0 6 4 4
2. UNB 2 1 1 8 4 2
3. UQTR 2 0 2 3 9 0
Pool B standings (FINAL)
1. McGill 2 1 1 9 7 2
2. Moncton 2 1 1 8 7 2
3. Sask 2 1 1 5 8 2
Thursday, March 22
14:00 Pool B #1: McGill 6, Moncton 3
19:00 Pool A #1: UNB 6, UQTR 1
Friday, March 23
14:00 Pool B #2: Moncton 5, Saskatchewan 1
19:00 Pool A #2: Western 3, UQTR 2 (OT)
Saturday, March 24
11:30 Pool B #3: Saskatchewan 4, McGill 3
16:30 Pool A #3: Western 3, UNB 2
Sunday, March 25
20:00 University Cup Final: McGill 4, Western 3 (overtime)
For more information:
Earl Zukerman, McGill, 514-983-7012
Michel Bélanger, CIS, Cell: (613) 447-6334
Maureen Sparks, UNB, Cell: (506) 470-5578