The sun did come up this morning in Fredericton, but many UNB fans are probably still numb or in shock, especially newer fans who have just come to expect the Varsity Reds to win. Just like the V-Reds players in the post-game who said they're still trying to process the outcome of not winning. Probably the closest analogy I can make to the current situation in Fredericton is how every year Canadians (thanks to TSN) expect Team Canada to win at the World Juniors and yet, the last two years those teenagers under incredible pressure and scrutiny have come up short and then feel they've let everyone down. Tournaments are really hard to win. Stuff happens. You don't get to bounce back in the next game of a series.
Last night Western took advantage of their bounces and opportunities in the first period and executed a solid total-team defence structure built around a hot goalie to hang on for the upset win. A lucky bounce off a UNB defenceman went onto a Western stick and was soon in the V-Reds net. The Mustangs executed on a five-on-three power play. And then in the same six-minutes span Jason Furlong took advantage of a puck skipping over a UNB defencemen's stick to score on a shorthanded breakaway. That took the already meek crowd out of the game.
Josh Unice was outstanding, again, in the Mustangs net. His teammates played well in front of him. UNB didn't get their forecheck really going until the third period. Then the game couldn't end soon enough for Western as UNB poured it on, got the sold-out crowd behind them, and finally got a couple of power play goals (with one thanks to a broken stick that went their way for once) past Unice to draw within a goal. Afterward no one could explain why it took the V-Reds so long to find their normal explosive energy or why they were waiting for a "spark", their first goal. Trust me, it will be beaten to death and beyond by fans in Fredericton who have become spoiled by recent wins.
The morning game was highly entertaining, especially since three teams' fates hung in the balance. Saskatchewan had the huge task of having to win by six goals to advance to the championship. McGill controlled their destiny and only had to win, and could even afford to lose by one or two goals. The fun part was that if Saskatchewan won by three, four or five goals then they would be doing Moncton a favour and send les Aigles Bleus to Sunday's game.
The Huskies scored first, and the pro-Moncton (Maritimes unity!) crowd got excited. McGill replied. It went this way most of the game. Francis Verreault-Paul pretty much put the Redmen attack on his back, while Ryan Holfeld was strong in the Saskatchewan net. The Huskies were never able to get a two-goal lead to make it really interesting and put some panic in the Redmen. Saskatchewan played with pride, and captain Kyle Ross was able to end his CIS career with a game winning goal.
Tonight we are guaranteed an OUA team as CIS champs for the first time since 2003. Either Western wins their second-ever University Cup or McGill their first.
Michel Belanger provides the CIS game stories:
GAME 3 POOL B: Redmen return to final despite loss
GAME 3 POOL A: Mustangs stun UNB, join McGill in final
The Brunswickan has been providing great coverage of the University Cup. Their stuff is here. Their crew has been very active on Twitter, and I've been including that content in our liveblogs.