Alberta Golden Bears, Saskatchewan Huskies advance to University Cup semifinals
The Golden Bears and the Huskies will face each other Saturday to fight for a spot in the finals
The Saskatchewan Huskies scraped together a hard-fought victory over the McGill Redmen to claim the last semifinal spot in the men's university hockey nationals on Friday night in Fredericton.
Saskatchewan scored the lone goal of the first period and scored another to open up the second period. But with just two minutes left to go in the second, McGill was able to get on the board to make it 2-0.
After a tense 10 minutes in the third period, the Huskies scored to go up 3-1, and after that things got scrappy.
Referees had to break up multiple fights as McGill pushed to get back into the game, but when the horn sounded, Saskatchewan was still on top. An empty net goal with less than a minute left made it 4-1 and locked up the Huskies victory.
Huskies coach Dave Adolph wasn't upset with the physicality at the end of the game.
"It's one game or go home," he said.
"I think that everybody, both coaches probably knew that, both teams know that. It's the hardest game probably of the year to play because you know it's a walk of shame for 364 days if you don't get it done, so obviously there's going to be emotion."
The Redmen were the higher ranked team going into the game, but the Huskies were familiar with success on the national stage, after coming in second at last year's national championship.
Alberta Golden Bears defeat Acadia Axemen
Earlier in the day, the Alberta Golden Bears defeated the Acadia Axemen to secure their berth in Saturday's semifinals.
It took approximately 13 seconds for Alberta to establish a lead, and the Golden Bears never let Acadia take that away.
Alberta finished the game with an 8-6 victory over the Axemen, who made the game interesting when they scored following an Alberta goal late in the first period, making it 2-1 going into the second period.
But a hot second period, with three goals from Alberta and just one from Acadia, gave the Golden Bears the breathing room they needed.
3 goals in 2 minutes
Despite an 8-3 lead going into the final two minutes, Acadia didn't quit. The Axemen scored three goals in those last minutes but still lost 8-6.
"I'm glad we had that lead that we had accumulated there in the third period, because as you can see it's never over," said Alberta coach Serge Lajoie.
"Not often you get a win with lessons."
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The result wasn't a surprise to most fans, as the Golden Bears were ranked second going into the tournament. But it did come with a bit of revenge, as Acadia had beat Alberta in the opening round of last year's championship.
Acadia coach Darren Burns said he was happy with his team, and that at the end of the day, Alberta was just the better team.
"I love our team," Burns said. "Our team competed hard today. As I said, Alberta is a great team and they deserve to win today.
"I'm proud of our team."
Saskatchewan will play the Alberta Golden Bears at 4 p.m. Saturday for a chance to play for a national championship.
The UNB Varsity Reds and the St. Francis Xavier X-men make up the other semifinal game, with the winners playing in the championship game on Sunday.