Saturday, March 26, 2011

Redmen drop Golden Bears, advance to CIS final

Colin McPhail

A pair of goals by Maxime Langelier-Parent helped The McGill Redmen finally earned a shot at a national championship.

The nation’s second seeded squad downed the Alberta Golden Bears 6-3.

“I’ve been working a lot on shooting to score in practice, which I didn’t do earlier in the season. I was always trying to pass in practice, said Langelier-Parent in reference to his uncharacteristic offensive outburst. The big forward only tallied four goals in 24 games this season.

“Working on scoring in practice has helped made it easier for me to do the same in games.”

Special teams were key in McGill’s victory. The Redmen were perfect on four penalty kills and scored on three of their four power play opportunities.

“Our scores get a lot of attention, but look at our penalty kill tonight. It was outstanding,” said head coach Kelly Nobes. “Puck didn’t get to the net.”

Francis Verreault-Paul opened the scoring on the man advantage late in the first and was shortly followed by Langelier-Parent’s first only 62 seconds later to take a 2-0 lead into the first intermission.

Canada West leading scorer Derek Ryan cut the lead in half early in the second. However, the Redmen responded with two goals 42 seconds apart by Ryan McKierman and Evan Vossen.

Chad Klassen scored with 56 seconds left in the middle frame, but the No. 3 Golden Bears struggled to create an offensive attack against a tenacious McGill defence.

Having to win by at least four goals, Alberta head coach Eric Thurston was forced to open the game up to create some opportunities. However, in doing so McGill was able to capitalize on the open ice.

“Obviously it’s not easy to go into a game knowing you have to beat the second best team in the country by four goals,” said Thurston.

“I thought overall we didn’t play bad. But credit to McGill. They’re a very skilled team. They scored six times on 21 shots.”

Langelier-Parent notched his second to dash any hopes of a comeback and Alexandre Picard-Hooper added a sixth for good measure.

Ryan scored another for Alberta, but that would be as close as they would get.

Hubert Morin made 24 saves for the win, while his counterpart, Kurtis Mucha, was lit up for six goals and 21 shots.

The win earned McGill a berth in their first University Cup final.

“We knew the situation that they were in and certainly made the guys aware of it but didn’t change our game our systems,” said Nobes.

“We didn’t change anything and just wanted to play our game, get a good forecheck going and get pucks to the net. I thought we did a good job at doing that.”

The loss was a tough one to swallow for the Golden Bears, especially team captain and graduating player Eric Hunter.

“It’s difficult,” said a disappointed Hunter. “My time here has been amazing and this year was especially good having to a chance to be a leader. Our core group has been together for four years and I’ve developed some special bonds.”

“It’s the most heartbreaking 6-3 loss. It hurts.”

Both Canada West conference representatives were held winless during this year’s event.

McGill will now wait to face the winner of tonight’s Western and UNB matchup.

When asked if he had a preference of opponent, Langerlier-Parent simply said, “No.”

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