(VICTORIA, BC) Mark Simpson, of the UNB Reds, scored the game-winner, one of three unanswered goals scored by the U SPORTS All-Stars in their 5-3 win over the Canadian junior team prospects, in Victoria, British Columbia, Thursday night.
The Reds’ Kris Bennett also scored for the team of university players.
With the victory, U SPORTS evens the three-game series, rebounding from a 3-2 shootout setback in Wednesday’s opener. The All-Stars will look to secure their second straight series win on Friday. In 2017, the university side swept Team Canada’s hopefuls in a two-game series.
“It was a complete effort, we had a lot of guys step up and make plays,” said U SPORTS captain Dylan Busenius, of the Calgary Dinos. “We came in with a mindset knowing what they are like and needing to go after it right off the bat. We wanted to put the pressure on them.”
McGill defenceman Nikolas Brouillard and St FX forward Holden Cook, with a goal and an assist each, and UNB’s Chris Clapperton and Saint Mary’s forward Hunter Garlent, each with two assists, led the game in scoring with two points each.
Team Canada skated out to an early 1-0 lead. MacKenzie Entwistle of the Hamilton Bulldogs squeezed a shot through Prince Albert Raiders goaltender Ian Scott to give his team the lead, less than five minutes in.
U SPORTS responded midway through the opening period as Queen’s Gaels forward Slater Doggett’s hard shot was tipped in by Brouillard.
Calgary Dinos sniper Riley Sheen put U SPORTS in front for the first time with goal at the 4:47 mark of the second period. It was the beginning of a flurry of action in the middle frame, including five consecutive second-period penalties to U SPORTS players.
“We really stuck together,” said Simpson. “They are highly skilled and find seams. We tightened it up after the first period, defence blocked a lot of shots and our goaltender played well.”
After four successful penalty kills by U SPORTS, the junior team hopefuls connected on their sixth man advantage of the night with a well-placed shot by Philadelphia Flyers prospect Morgan Frost.
Less than a minute later, Mississauga Steelheads forward Owen Tippett finished off a 2-on-0 opportunity to give Team Canada the lead.
U SPORTS evened the score again with a power-play marker of their own in the final two minutes when Bennett redirected a shot from the blue line by Brouillard.
Simpson lit the lamp 57 seconds later as his attempt barely crossed the line, eluding Vancouver Canucks draft pick Michael DiPietro. That turned out to be the game-winning goal.
Halfway through the final period, Cook, playing in his third consecutive All-Star Series, added an insurance marker.
Playing all 60 minutes for U SPORTS, Scott stopped 27 of 30 shots on goal.
Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds goaltender Matthew Villalta started for Team Canada and made 13 saves on 15 attempts. DiPietro denied 14 of the 17 shots he faced.
The 2018 U SPORTS All-Star Series wraps up on Friday at 6:00pm Atlantic. The game can be seen on TSN.ca.
RECAP BY – U SPORTS
PHOTOS BY: Kevin Light/for U SPORTS