Friday, March 16, 2018

Golden Bears Exact Revenge Against Axemen

The #2 seeded Alberta Golden Bears entered the 2018 University Cup as one of the favourites and they looked every bit the part this afternoon, at least for the first 50 minutes of the game. The Bears raced out to an 8-2 lead only to watch the Axemen score four times in the latter half of the 3rd period to make the final score a more respectable 8-6. The win avenges last year's 4-1 quarter-final loss and, more importantly, moves Alberta into the semi-finals for the first time in three years.

A pair of Riley Kieser goals - one just 13 seconds into the game and another at 13:16 - gave the Golden Bears an early 2-0 lead. Kyle Farrell responded for the Axemen just 16 seconds later to make it 2-1, which is how it would stay until the intermission.

A slew-footing penalty late in the 1st period put Alberta on a five minute power play and they finally connected 3:12 into the 2nd period courtesy Canada West MVP Luke Philp. That opened the floodgates a bit as the Golden Bears added another pair in short order - first by Cole Sanford at 5:26 and then a power play goal at 9:22. A Remy Giftopoulos power play goal at 15:46 cut the deficit to 5-2 before the end of the period.

The 3rd period was a wild one. Alberta again showed their quick-strike ability with goals from Trevor Cox at 2:31, Jamie Crooks on the power play at 4:31, and U Sports Defenceman of the Year Jason Fram at 6:46 to make it 8-2. To their credit, the Axemen did not quit. Cristiano Digiacinto scored at 11:56 and then they added three more in the final 63 seconds - from Chance Braid at 18:57, Boston Leier at 19:20, and Geoff Schemitsch at 19:43 - to turn what was a blowout to a final score that was much more indicative of the play.

- Shots in the game were 38-29 for Alberta.

- Alberta was without one of their regular forwards in Brandon Magee. Magee, who put up 24 points in 25 regular season games this season, was serving a suspension that carried over from the Canada West final.

- Kieser and Schemitsch were named their team's player of the game.

- Robert Steeves stopped 24 out of 32 shots before giving away to Dawson Carty for the final 13 minutes. Carty stopped all 6 shots sent his way. At the other end, Brendan Burke - son of former NHLer Sean Burke - made 23 saves on 29 shots.

- Acadia was 1 for 4 on the power play while Alberta connected 3 times on 4 tries.

- Attendance was 3063.

- The loss ended a run of 8 straight wins by AUS teams in quarter-final play at the University Cup. UNB, St. FX, and Saint Mary's all won their games in 2016, UNB, St. FX, and Acadia were victorious last season, and UNB and St. FX won yesterday.

- The Golden Bears move on to face the winner of tonight's game between the #3 McGill Redmen and #6 Saskatchewan Huskies in tomorrow afternoon's 4PM semi-final, which will be broadcast live on Sportsnet 360.