HALIFAX (CIS) – Led by four consecutive goals from Cam Braes, including three on the power play, the #2 ranked UNB Varsity Reds skated to a 6-2 victory over the Windsor Lancers (#7) in CIS University Cup quarterfinal action Thursday night at Scotiabank Centre.
University Cup website: www.universitycup.ca
With the effort, the third-year forward from Shawinigan Lake, BC, tied a CIS record for most goals in a national championship tournament game. He received top player honours for the Varsity Reds.
"I pride myself on being a playoff performer when the chips are down. I always want to elevate my game," Braes said after the win, when asked about the four-goal effort, which gave him six in the post-season, only one fewer than he tallied in AUS conference play.
The AUS conference champions opened the scoring at 17:15 of the first period on a marker by team captain Cam Critchlow, who stuffed a puck on the lip of the Lancer crease behind goaltender Parker Van Buskirk. Rob Mignardi assisted on the shorthanded goal.
At the 1:20 mark of the second period, the Varsity Reds doubled their lead on a power-play goal from Braes on an assist from Philippe Maillet.
Lancer captain and player of the game Drew Palmer sliced the UNB lead in half with 13:47 remaining in the second period. On a two-on-one breakaway, in his final CIS game, he deposited a rebound behind David Shantz off a blast from Daulton Siwak. Blake Bondeel notched the other assist.
At 7:29 of the third period, Braes, on an assist from Tyler Carroll, restored a two-goal advantage for UNB.
Just more than one minute later, CIS player of the year Spencer Pommells cut the lead to 3-2 on the power-play. He ripped a blast behind Shantz at the 8:40 mark. Palmer, with his second point of the night, and Julian Luciani assisted.
Braes, on a set-up by Jordan Murray, scored his first of back-to-back power-play goals in a one-minute span, to stretch the UNB lead to 5-2.
Special teams were a key part of the result, with UNB scoring on three out of eight chances with the man-advantage, while the Lancers, who had the third-best power play in the CIS, could only muster one goal in seven opportunities.
Palmer said the power plays, especially an extended 5-on-3 UNB advantage in the third period, were key.
"It kind of changed the momentum; it hurt a lot," he offered.
Even after falling behind by three goals later, Palmer said his team played until the end.
"There is no give up with this team," he added of the Lancers.
UNB head coach Gardner MacDougall said "special teams are key at this level."
"We knew we were playing a team with a great goalie. We knew we had to get pucks on net," he noted.
Chris Caissy, unassisted, wrapped up the scoring with an empty-net goal with 10 seconds remaining in regulation.
The loss eliminates the Lancers, who won bronze in the OUA, from further tournament competition.
"We thought we gave ourselves a chance to win against a very good hockey team," Windsor head coach Kevin Hamlin said, noting the shots on goal "were not indicative of the play."
UNB outshot Windsor 38-12.
Shantz made 10 saves for the win, while Van Buskirk turned aside 32 shots in the loss.
With the win, the Varsity Reds advance to semi-final action, where they will face the #3 Guelph Gryphons on Saturday, March 14, beginning at noon, at Scotiabank Centre.
On the second day of action in the 2015 CIS University Cup, the UQTR Patriotes (#4) and Acadia Axemen (#5) will battle at 1 p.m., while the host StFX X-Men (#8) and defending national champion Alberta Golden Bears (#1) will face-off at 7 p.m. in quarterfinal action.
With files from Canadian Interuniversity Sport
Photo courtesy of Brian Smith