Golden Bears advance to Sunday’s University Cup final against Reds

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So much for earning a measure of revenge.
After falling to the provincial rival University of Calgary Dinos in the Canada West gold-medal game two weeks ago, the fifth-seed University of Alberta Golden Bears kicked down the door to the U Sports men’s hockey national championships with a resounding 7-0 win over the fourth-seed University of Windsor Lancers on Friday.

That set them up for what was expected to be Saturday’s semifinal showcase against the top-seed Dinos, who simply had to get by an eighth-seed University of Prince Edward Island Panthers squad that made the University Cup by virtue of being its host.

Only no one bothered to explain that to the Panthers, who upset the No. 1 Dinos 4-2 in front of a raucous crowd at Eastlink Centre in Charlottetown, P.E.I., Friday night to dash the Bears’ hopes of any sort of post-season redo against Calgary.

So, instead Alberta set their sights on the Panthers. And there would be no home-ice advantage making the difference this time around, as the Bears won 4-1 and will face the University of New Brunswick Reds on Sunday (4 p.m.).

Alberta started the same way they did to start the tournament one day earlier, wasting no time to open the scoring as Eric Florchuk took a pass from captain Matt Fonteyne and slid the puck between the pads of Jonah Capriotti just 23 seconds in.

“We just wanted to come out strong,” Florchuk said on the CBC broadcast. “We knew this was going to be a packed barn, being the hometown crowd and they were going to try bringing some energy to the team. We just wanted to kind of put a dent in that early and got on the board early.”

While Bears goalie Ethan Kruger stopped all eight shots sent his way in the first period to make if 80 straight minutes of shutout hockey at nationals, he was aided by seven blocked shots by his teammates, as well as a stellar effort from defenceman Joel Sexsmith, who stretched out to chase down a pass on a two-on-one and break up a dangerous opportunity for P.E.I.

The second period saw the Bears go on a four-on-three man-advantage, after going an impressive five-for-three a game earlier. And this time, Fonteyne fired a one-timer past the glove of Capriotti 1:46 into the frame.

P.E.I. survived an ensuing five-on-three penalty kill, before Bears forward Nolan Volcan had a pass by Tyler Prezusio hit him in the back, before spinning around and knocking it home to take a 3-0 lead into the third period.

Tempers flared and Panthers defenceman Zac Beauregard jumped into Kruger in the crease, causing a scrum that ended with Beauregard sucker-punching Kruger in the face, knocking him to the ice and from the game.

That left Matt Berlin — of Edmonton Oilers emergency backup goalie fame — coming in to replace Kruger, who left after posting 104:24 of shutout hockey at nationals, while Alberta went on a four-minute power play.

Preziuso stripped the puck from Conor MacEachern and went top shelf past Capriotti, but it was MacEachern ending the Bears’ shutout streak with 2:49 left on the clock.

The Bears left the ice to a chorus of boos as they made their exit without shaking hands with their opponent, which left the hometown broadcast crew flabbergasted, having apparently forgotten their beloved Panthers blatantly took out Alberta’s star goaltender.


The reigning men’s volleyball national champions won’t get a chance to defend their title Sunday.

Instead of facing the Trinity Western University Spartans in a rematch of the Canada West final that went Alberta’s way heading into the U Sports tournament as the No. 1 seed, the Golden Bears will play for bronze after falling in straight sets (25-18, 25-20 and 25-XX) to the fourth-seed Université de Sherbrooke Vert et Or in Saturday’s semifinal round at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ont.

Trailing 16-9 out of the gate, Alberta battled back to trail 17-14 after making a change at setter from Cam Kern to rookie Luke Weddell. But that was as close as they’d get as Sherbrooke took the first set 25-18.

Sherbrooke took a 13-8 lead in the second, but Alberta pushed again, closing to within 15-14 on an ace by U Sports MVP Jordan Canham, before the Vert et Or called a timeout to regroup and claim a 25-20 win.

Alberta took their first lead of the night on the way to a 15-9 advantage in the third set, but Sherbrooke stormed back to tie it 16-16. The Vert et Or got back on top, 22-21, before putting it away with three more points.

The Bears will face the hometown Marauders in Sunday’s bronze-medal game (1 p.m.), while Sherbrooke will face the Canada West silver medalist Trinity Western University Spartans over gold (4 p.m.).

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