Friday, March 23, 2012

Nationals Game 3 - Moncton vs. Saskatchewan


Number 3 hosts number 5 – The 2012 edition of the Cavendish University Cup continues at the Aitken University Centre today at 2PM when the Canada West Champion and CIS #3 ranked Saskatchewan Huskies host the AUS runner-up and CIS #5 ranked Universite de Moncton Aigles Bleus. Head coach Dave Adolph guided the Huskies to a 3rd place finish in the highly competitive Canada West this season after posting a conference record of 19-6-3, finishing only two points behind the conference-leading Manitoba Bisons. They were ranked in the CIS top ten in all 17 polls, reaching a high of 3rd place on 5 separate occasions. CIS coach of the year Serge Bourgeois led the Aigles Bleus to 3rd place in the AUS after posting a conference record of 18-9-1, only one season removed from missing the playoffs. They were ranked in the CIS top ten for the final 15 polls of the season, ranking as high as 3rd at the end of November.

While the Huskies were idle yesterday Moncton was in action against McGill. The Redmen jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead in that game and never looked back, eventually winning 6-3. Moncton must beat Saskatchewan by a minimum of three goals to have a chance at advancing. If the Huskies win, their game against McGill on Saturday will be a true semi-final with the winner moving onto Sunday’s championship game.

Playoffs – Saskatchewan qualified for the University Cup by sweeping Lethbridge in two straight games in the opening round of the Canada West playoffs, coming back to win the final two games on the road against the Alberta Golden Bears in overtime in the semi-finals, and coming back again in the CW Finals after dropping the opener at home to the Calgary Dinos to win two straight, including in triple victory in the third and deciding game. It was the Huskies 15th conference championship in school history.

Moncton earned their way to the University Cup after defeating the St. FX X-Men 2 games to 1 in the AUS quarter-finals and the Saint Mary’s Huskies 3 game to 1 in the semi-finals, securing their berth when UNB also made the conference finals. The Varsity Reds made quick work of the Aigles Bleus in the finals, however, winning the series in 3 straight games. The ten playoff games Moncton played were the most in the country.

University Cup – Saskatchewan is making their first appearance at the University Cup since attending the 2008 tournament in Moncton. That year they defeated Brock University 4-1 in their first game before losing to UNB 4-0 in the semi-finals. This marks the Huskies 14th appearance at the University Cup. They have been in 5 National Championship games, winning their only CIS Gold in 1983 in Moncton. Their most recent title game came in 2005 when they fell 4-3 in OT against Alberta in Edmonton. The Huskies are 15-16 all-time at the University Cup.

The Aigles Bleus, like the Huskies, are making their first trip to the University Cup since 2008, when they hosted the event. They defeated Alberta 2-1 in OT to open the tournament before losing to McGill 3-0, denying the Aigles Bleus a chance at a second straight National Championship game on home ice. Moncton has an all-time record of 19-11-1 in their previous 14 trips to the University Cup. They have won CIS Gold on 4 occasions (1981, 1982, 1990, 1995) and CIS Silver twice, most recently in 2007.
Here is a snapshot of the two team’s records at Nationals (NOT including this year):



Last Meeting – The last meeting between the Huskies and Aigles Bleus came in the opening game of the 2005 University Cup in Edmonton, Alberta. Saskatchewan received a 24 save performance from goaltender Thomas Vicars to blank Moncton 3-0 on their way to an appearance in the championship game.
That is the only victory Saskatchewan has ever recorded over the Aigle Bleus as Moncton leads the all-time series 3 games to 1, including wins in the 1981 and 1982 National Championship games. Moncton other win came at the 1999 University Cup in Saskatoon.

Head-to-Head – Saskatchewan finished the season 7th in the country in both goals scored and goals allowed, leading to a +38 goal differential that ranked 5th in the CIS. Once again the difference may be special teams and defense. The Huskies feature the most dangerous power play in the nation as they led the CIS in both power play goals (37) and percentage (26.2) while Moncton ranked only 26th in penalty killing with an 80.0% success rate. Both teams give up a lot of shots (30.7 for Saskatchewan and 33.4 for Moncton) so the play of the goaltenders will be critical. The Huskies posted the 2nd best save percentage in the country at 0.919 while Moncton  too far behind at 0.908; good for 9th.Below are the regular season statistics and CIS rankings for each team.



Who to Watch for on Saskatchewan – After failing to qualify for the University Cup the last three seasons the Huskies do not have anyone on their team with national championship experience. They have been led this season by the top three scorers in the Canada West. First team CIS all-star Derek Hulak (44 points, 2nd in CIS), first team Canada West all-star Kyle Bortis (17 goals, 39 points, 7th in CIS), and second team all-star and CIS most sportsmanlike award winner Kyle Ross (16 goals, 33 points, 19th in CIS) accounted for over 40% of Saskatchewan’s goals this season, with Bortis and Bailey scoring almost half of the team’s power play goals. The three also led the conference in playoff scoring with Ross netting 10 points, Bortis 9, and Hulak 8. Andrew Bailey was the only other member of the team to break the 20 point barrier, putting up 23, although Chris Durand managed 17 points in only 23 games. Matthew Spafford equaled his regular season total of 5 points (in 19 games) in only 8 playoff games. On defence the Huskies are led in scoring by second team all-star Matthew Delahey (17 points). Rookie Chad Suer had 8 points and was second on the team at +18. Brett Ward posted 6 points in the postseason after only having 7 all season. The Huskies have split their goaltending duties almost right down the middle this season. Ryan Holfeld (10-4, 2.11, 0.930) and David Reekie (9-5, 2.68, 0.911) each played well in 14 games this season. In the playoffs Holfeld started 5 games to Reekie’s 4 but posted much better numbers – 4-1, 1.54, 0.938 for Holfeld and 2-1, 3.75, 0.883 for Reekie.

Who to Watch for on Moncton – The Aigles Bleus will lean heavily on AUS first team all-star Dean Ouellet (league leading 28 assists, 34 points) and top goal scorer Eric Faille (16 goals, 32 points) for offense. They both added another 9 points in the playoffs to finish tied for 2nd in the AUS. Alex Quesnel (25), Francis Rochon (15 goals, 23 points), and Marc-Andre Cote (12 goals, 21 points) are all capable of contributing offensively while the return of Christian Gaudet, who produced 14 points in 10 games before being lost due to injury for the remainder of the regular season and all but the final game of the playoffs, adds another dangerous forward to their arsenal. On defence AUS all-rookie team member Samuel Groulx (10 points, +18) and Mathieu Bolduc (9 points, +18) will be looked upon to shut down the Huskies attack. Perhaps the most important player for Moncton will be goaltender P-A Marion. Marion, an AUS second team all-star, was stellar between the pipes for the Aigles Bleus this season as he posted 13 victories, a 3.01 GAA, and 0.913 save percentage. He continued his strong play into the playoffs, only giving up 6 goals in his first 6 games, before struggling in the AUS finals and surrendering 13 goals in 3 games. He still finished the postseason with a 2.25 GAA and 0.938 save percentage, however.
Behind the Bench – Dave Adolph is in his 19th season behind Saskatchewan’s bench, leading the Huskies to the playoffs in each year. His career record as the Huskies head coach stands at 332-251-61 in the regular season, 44-30 in the playoffs, and 5-11 in 8 previous appearances at the University Cup.  He ranks 2nd all-time in wins in Canadian University history, behind only former Alberta coach Clare Drake. He has won 6 Canada West championships and a CIS Silver Medal (2005). He has been named Canada West coach of the year twice (1998, 2000).

Serge Bourgeois is in his 3rd season behind the bench for the Aigles Bleus. He has a career regular season record of 37-40-7 and a playoff record of 5- 4. This will be his first appearance at the University Cup.
Follow Along – All tournament games will be webcast at ssncanada.ca, audiocast at chsrfm.ca, and broadcast on CHSR-FM (97.9). David Kilfoil and Christopher Cameron will be hosting a live blog at www.cisblog.ca for every game as well as tweeting during the games (use the #UCup hash tag). UNBHockey on Twitter will also have updates as the game progresses. All OUA games will have live stats at http://www.leaguestat.com/oua/MEN/en/stats/schedule.php


GAME DAY SNAPSHOT


Saskatchewan – Regular Season/Playoffs 
(19-6-3/41 points, 3rd Canada West, 3rd CIS)/(6-2 playoffs, Canada West Champion)
#19-F- Derek Hulak (11-33-44 in 28 games)/(1-7-8 in 8 games)
#8-F- Kyle Bortis (17-22-39 in 28 games)/(5-4-9 in 8 games)
#14-F- Kyle Ross (16-17-33 in 28 games)/(3-7-10 in 8 games)
#21-F- Andrew Bailey (8-15-23 in 28 games)/(1-2-3 in 8 games)
#11-F- Chris Durand (9-8-17 in 23 games)/(1-5-6 in 8 games)
#31-G- Ryan Holfeld (10-4-0, 2.11, 0.930 in 14 games)/(4-1, 1.54, 0.938 in 5 games)

Moncton – Regular Season/Playoffs
(18-9-1 /37 pts, 3rd AUS, 5th CIS)/(5-5 in playoffs, AUS runner-up)
#19-F- Dean Ouellet (6-28-34 in 28 games)/(3-6-9 in 10 games)
#7-F- Eric Faille (16-16-32 in 28 games)/(6-3-9 in 10 games)
#21-F- Alex Quesnal (8-17-25 in 24 games)/(3-3-6 in 10 games)
#14-F- Francis Rochon (15-8-23 in 26 games)/(0-3-3 in 5 games)
#13-F- Marc-Andre Cote (12-9-21 in 27 games)/(2-5-7 in 10 games)
#31-G- P-A Marion (13-7-0, 3.01, 0.913 in 21 games)/(5-4, 2.25, 0.938 in 9 games)

Special Teams – Regular Season/Playoffs

Saskatchewan PP – 37 for 141 (26.2%)/9 for 48 (18.8%)
Moncton PP – 23 for 125 (18.4%)/9 for 55 (16.4%)
Saskatchewan PK – 114 for 136 (83.8%)/36 for 45 (80.0%)
Moncton PK – 116 for 145 (80.0%)/52 for 65 (80.0%)