TRENTINO, Italy (CIS) – Tyler Carroll from the University of New Brunswick had a goal and an assist as the Canadian men's hockey team advanced to the gold-medal final at the Winter Universiade thanks to a 2-1 semifinal victory over defending two-time champion Russia, Friday afternoon.
It was a remarkable win for the team comprised of Atlantic University Sport all-stars, who were facing a powerful opponent which entered the contest with an unblemished 4-0 record, having outscored its rivals by a 25-3 margin in the process. The Russian lineup includes 11 players with KHL experience, nine of them currently skating in the league.
Canada (4-1) will face either Kazakhstan or the United States in the championship match Saturday at 8:30 a.m. EST (2:30 p.m. Trentino), live on www.fisu.tv.
The Canucks are 3-3 in six previous appearances in the FISU final, including triumphs in 1981, 1991 and 2007, the latter a 3-1 win over Russia when the country was also represented by AUS standouts in Italy (Turin).
Today's result also ensures the Red and White will return home with a medal for the 13th time in 14 trips to the biennial tournament.
"One of the keys was that we got a chance to get the lead. When you have a quality opponent, and you know it going to be a tight game, it's critical. We did that and we protected it," said Team Canada head coach Gardiner MacDougal from UNB, who was an assistant coach with the 2007 gold-medal winning squad. "We got a chance to extend it in the third, which turned out to be the game-winning goal."
Carroll, a forward from Strathroy, Ont., who has helped MacDougall's UNB Varsity Reds capture a pair of University Cups over the last three years, opened the scoring with 17 seconds left in the first period and assisted on Université de Moncton forward Éric Faille's game-winner 34 seconds into the third.
"Hats off to our group, we had a lot of character performance. Our penalty kill was exceptional and found a way to shut them down. When the PK is as effective as that, you're going to find a way to be successful," MacDougall added. "That being said, it's a quick turnaround. We need a good supper in us and then get excited for a lifetime opportunity. Anytime you get a chance to win a world championship, it's an amazing opportunity, so we look forward to that tomorrow."
After going a perfect 9-for-9 in a 6-0 quarter-final win over Slovakia on Wednesday, Canada's penalty kill unit was perfect in seven situations against Russia, including in the final 77 seconds of the game after UNB's Nick MacNeil was called high-sticking.
"We were pretty excited to have that match-up [against Russia] going into the game tonight with the history the way it is between the two countries, and for us to have our own chance to add to that history was pretty exciting," said team captain Chris Culligan of Howie Center, N.S., also from UNB. "We had a plan going into the game, that was just to simplify our game, to play hard, to play the Canadian way. Every player bought it and everyone was willing to sacrifice whatever they could to ensure we had success tonight. The last few games we really started coming together as a group and that just built up to where we are getting to right now.
"We're hoping a lot of our fellow Canadian athletes will come up to cheer us on tomorrow. That would be great. There will be a lot of emotion there. Whoever the opponent is, we will be ready to jump with the support of the other Canadians."
Canada played a strong all-around game and outshot its powerful rivals 38-20 overall, including 15-8 in the first frame, 14-6 in the second and 9-6 in the third.
The Canadians had numerous opportunities to take an early lead but were blanked on three power play opportunities in the first 10 minutes of the contest. They would finish 0-for-4 with the man advantage.
In the dying moments of the opening stanza, however, Carroll deflected a shot from UNB teammate Marc-Antoine Desnoyers of Saint-Hippolyte, Que., to send his troops to the locker room with a 1-0 advantage.
The Russians had a glorious chance to tie the affair midway through the second period but Saint Mary's goaltender Anthony Peters stopped them on a three-on-one rush.
Canada's best chance of the middle frame came on the penalty kill with 52 seconds left when Alex Wall was sent on a breakaway, but the UPEI forward was stoned by netminder Danila Alistratov.
The Canucks got the all-important second goal early in the third when Carroll took the puck away from a defenceman behind the Russian net and sent it in front to Faille, who made no mistake and buried his fifth of the tourney.
Pavel Kopytin, who currently plays for Atlant Moscow Oblast in the KHL, made things interesting with 1:50 remaining in regulation, cutting the deficit to one with a perfect shot high to Peters' stick side.
MacNeil was called for high-sticking 33 seconds later but the PK saved the day and sent Team Canada to the final.
Kopytin's goal was the first allowed by Peters in three starts at the competition. The product of Blyth, Ont., is now 3-0 with two shutouts, a 0.33 goals against average and a .980 save percentage.
GAME NOTES: Canada suffered its lone loss of the tournament to Kazakhstan, a 4-2 round-robin defeat on Sunday, and has not faced the USA so far in Trentino... Canada and Russia have now faced off six times at the last five Universiades, with the Russians holding a 3-2-1 edge over that period... In addition to the 2007 triumph by the AUS all-stars, Canada's FISU titles in men's hockey came courtesy of the senior national team in 1991 (Sapporo, Japan) and the University of Alberta Golden Bears in 1981 (Jaca, Spain).
Team Canada website: http://english.cis-sic.ca/universiade/winter/2013/index Trentino 2013 website: http://www.universiadetrentino.org/en TEAM CANADA SCHEDULE & RESULTS (all times local / 6 hours ahead of EST)
Dec. 10 (20:00): Canada 12, Japan 1 Dec. 13 (20:00): Canada 11, Ukraine 0 Dec. 15 (20:00): Kazakhstan 4, Canada 2 Dec. 18 (20:00): Canada 6, Slovakia 0 (quarter-final) Dec. 20 (16:30): Canada 2, Russia 1 (semifinal) Dec. 21 (14:30): Canada vs. Kazakhstan or USA (final)
Canada 2, Russia 1
1. CAN Tyler Carroll (4) (Marc-Antoine Desnoyers), 19:43
Andrey Demidov (RUS) tripping, 3:35; Andrey Demidov (RUS) high-sticking, 5:57; Vadim Mitriakov (RUS) high-sticking, 7:55; Marc-Antoine Desnoyers (CAN) hooking, 16: 21.
Rob Slaney (CAN) slashing, 0:29; Simon Lacroix (CAN) slashing, 6:17; Michael Kirkpatrick (CAN) hooking, 17:28.
2. CAN Éric Faille (5) (Tyler Carroll), 0:34 3. RUS Pavel Kopytin (4) (Alexander Shscherbina, Egor Kutugin), 18:10
Cory Tanaka (CAN) high-sticking, 1:45; Alex Wall (CAN) holding, 7:41; Kirill Polyanskiy (RUS) roughing, 14:24; Nick MacNeil (CAN) high-sticking, 18:43.
GOALS (by period) CAN: 1-0-1: 2 RUS: 0-0-1: 1
SHOTS ON GOAL (by period) CAN: 15-14-9: 38 RUS: 8-6-6: 20
POWER PLAY: CAN: 0-4 RUS: 0-7
GOALTENDERS CAN – Anthony Peters (W, 3-0, 20 shots, 19 saves, 1 GA, 60:00) RUS – Danila Alistratov (L, 3-1, 38 shots, 36 saves, 2 GA, 59:16) RUS – Empty net (0:44)
REFEREES: Lars Johan Hall (SWE), Ville Johannes Stigell (FIN)
LINESMEN: Marcus Hofer (GER), Lauri Nikulainen (FIN)
START: 16:30 END: 18:24 LENGTH: 1:54
POOL STANDINGS (FINAL)
Pool A GP W OTW OTL L GF GA PTS 1. Italy 3 2 0 0 1 11 7 6 2. USA 3 1 1 0 1 6 7 5 3. Latvia 3 1 0 1 1 9 9 4 4. Sweden 3 1 0 0 2 6 9 3
Pool B 1. Russia 3 3 0 0 0 20 2 9 2. Slovakia 3 1 1 0 1 15 7 5 3. Czech Rep. 3 1 0 1 1 15 10 4 4. Great Britain 3 0 0 0 3 0 31 0
Pool C 1. Kazakhstan 3 3 0 0 0 11 5 9 2. Canada 3 2 0 0 1 25 5 6 4. Ukraine 3 0 1 0 2 6 18 2 3. Japan 3 0 0 1 2 5 19 1
Scoring system: 3 points for a win in regulation 2 points for a win in overtime or shootout 1 point for a loss in overtime or shootout
Legend: W (win), OTW (OT win), OTL (OT loss), L (loss)
About the Winter Universiade
The Winter Universiade is a biennial international multi-sport event open to competitors who are at least 17 and less than 28 years of age as of January 1 in the year of the Games. Participants must be full-time students at a post-secondary institution (university, college, CEGEP) or have graduated from a post-secondary institution in the year preceding the event. The competition program of the Trentino Universiade includes alpine skiing, biathlon, cross-country skiing, curling, figure skating, freestyle skiing, ice hockey (women & men), nordic combined, ski jumping, snowboarding and speed skating (short & long track).
About Canadian Interuniversity Sport
Canadian Interuniversity Sport is the national governing body of university sport in Canada. Every year, 11,000 student-athletes and 700 coaches from 55 universities and four regional associations vie for 21 national championships in 12 different sports. CIS also provides high performance international opportunities for Canadian student-athletes at Winter and Summer Universiades, as well as numerous world university championships. For further information, visit www.cis-sic.ca or follow us on: