(ST. CATHARINES, ON) - U SPORTS - Alberta Golden Bears forward Jason Fram put home a rebound with 6.5 seconds left, giving the U SPORTS All-Stars a 4-3 victory over Hockey Canada’s national junior team prospects on Thursday, in St. Catherines, Ontario.
Varsity Reds defenceman Randy Gazzola(Thorold, ON) and Stephen Anderson(Morell, PE) both skated regular shifts with the All-Stars.
The win secured a sweep of the U SPORTS All-Star Series for the first time since the junior squad began facing Canada’s best university hockey players in 2015. It was also the first pair of wins for any U SPORTS competition - including conference all-star teams, and squads made up of two to three U SPORTS programs – over Team Canada since the series began in 1988.
“What we saw the last two games is a group of guys that came together very quickly over a four-day period,” said U SPORTS head coach Brad Peddle, whose squad featured six returning players and 11 different universities represented. “One of the things we wanted to really emphasize this year was… to make the experience bigger and better and more high-performance and really treat it like Hockey Canada treats their players. I think that’s what you saw from our guys, that they really felt like it was very professional and it showed on the ice.”
With clock winding down and overtime looming, St FX defencemen Jagger Dirk found Alberta forward Cole Sanford streaking toward the net, but the second-year player couldn’t lift the puck over the pad of Dallas Stars prospect Colton Point. Fram pounced on the rebound, giving U SPORTS their second straight win, after Wednesday’s 3-0 triumph.
“There were too many emotions to count,” said Fram, who also picked up an assist in the game. “A lot of excitement going on. To represent U SPORTS and all our universities together, it’s a pretty special group of guys in there. We all had a lot of fun and I think we really came here with something to prove to get that message out.”
Sanford also had a large impact, scoring two goals to finish with a three-point night, while Alberta teammate Luke Philp, who had the game-winner on Wednesday, picked up a pair of assists. Acadia forward Stephen Harper also notched a goal and an assist.
Ottawa prospect Alex Formenton and St. Louis prospect Robert Thomas – both with the London Knights of the OHL – along with L.A. prospect Kale Clague (Brandon, WHL) had the goals for Canada’s junior team hopefuls.
“(We picked) guys that we knew would take this very seriously and come in here and play for each other and that’s exactly what happened,” added Peddle “They played these last two games like they’ve been playing together a year, or two years. It just speaks to the level of comfort in really putting our product out there, that U SPORTS hockey is elite hockey and it’s no secret. It shouldn’t be anymore.”
The 2018 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship begins on Dec. 26 in Buffalo, NY, while the U SPORTS regular season resumes on Jan. 3.
The Varsity Reds return to regular season action on Friday, Jan. 5, when they host the Dal Tigers. Game time is 7:00pm.
UNB will play a pair of exhibition games on Dec. 29 and 30, against the Ryerson Rams. The games will make up the 14th annual Peterbilt Atlantic Pete Kelly Cup. Friday’s game will go at 7:00pm, while game two of the series, on Saturday, will face-off at 4:00pm.