HALIFAX (CIS) – Kyle Neuber was the hero as he scored the overtime clincher for the Guelph Gryphons in a 3-2 win over the Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières (UQTR) Patriotes in the CIS University Cup bronze medal game Sunday afternoon at Scotiabank Centre.
At 5:31 of the ten-minute extra session, the sophomore forward banged a rebound under UQTR goaltender Guillaume Nadeau off a three-on-two rush by the Gryphons.
"We work on driving to the net at every practice," Neuber, his team's player of the game, said. "I kept jamming away and it went in."
When asked if it felt like the most important goal of his hockey career, Neuber said "it does, it is probably the biggest goal I have ever scored." Gryphon captain Daniel Broussard, who initiated the rush, and Ryan Strand garnered assists on the game-winner.
"It has been a year of adversity and trust. This team has been through so much," Gryphon head coach Shawn Camp said.
Early in the season, Gryphon player Cole Hamblin died a short time after a cancer diagnosis, while defenseman Thomas Kohler lost his father from the effects of the same disease over Christmas.
Guelph, who started the season at 3-13, also battled injuries to key players such as Mike Hasson and Nicholas Trecapelli. A strong finish – including a 7-2 record in the OUA playoffs – culminated with a 4-0 win over UQTR in the Queen's Cup final.
"It has been so rewarding to see these players grow and develop together," Camp added.
In the re-match of the OUA conference championship, UQTR opened the scoring at 9:40 of the first period, when Mathieu Tanguay-Theriault beat Andrew D'Agostini with a wrist shot from the top of the slot. He grabbed a rebound before going top shelf over the shoulder of the Gryphon goaltender.
Twenty-two seconds later, at 10:01, Guelph knotted the affair. Scott Simmonds broke in alone, deked Nadeau, who made the initial save, before the first-year forward poked in the rebound from close quarters.
"It is great to have been part of something so special. It has been such a joy being with these guys," Simmonds said of the win.
On their second power play of the opening 20 minutes, UQTR player of the game Guillaume Asselin ripped a blast off the goal post behind D'Agostini.
With just more than three minutes remaining, Nadeau made a pad save off Neuber from the top of the circle off the rush before turning aside Simmonds from the lip of the crease on the rebound.
Guelph outshot UQTR 10-6 in the first period.
In the second period, the Patriotes regained the lead at the 5:28 mark. Off a Guelph turnover in their own zone, Anthony Verret picked up the puck, fed it to Asselin, who picked the top corner short side over the left shoulder of D'Agostini to make it 2-1. Asselin had little room to place the shot, but he made no mistake. Jason Rajotte collected the other helper.
On a UQTR power play later in the period, the Gryphons had the two best chances, while shorthanded, including assistant captain Jordan Mock hammering a shot high and wide while on a two-on-one.
While already on a man-advantage, UQTR ramped up the pressure with another extra attacker during a delayed penalty call. On the subsequent 5-on-3 power play, which lasted 17 seconds, the Patriotes came up empty. With their one-man advantage winding down, Asselin laced a one-timer behind D'Agostini, but the blast slammed off the crossbar.
Although there were few shots on goal in the second period – UQTR held a 6-3 edge – there was plenty of action as the teams battled for the bronze.
At 1:32 of the third period, Broussard – with his second point of the game – made it 2-2. Off a saucer shot from the point by Trecapelli, he deflected the puck high glove side over Nadeau from the top of the slot. Carlos Amestoy chipped in the other assist.
Although the rest of the period was scoreless, both teams had opportunities to take the lead.
Rajotte got in alone for the Patriotes but D'Agostini snagged a short backhander with a stretching glove save, while at the nine-minute mark the Guelph backstop thwarted a shot by Felix Plouffe at the side of the net.
A short time later, Simmonds looked for his second goal, when he took a drop pass off the rush, but Nadeau made the save for the Patriotes.
"We had a 2-on-1 in overtime and we hit four or five posts," UQTR head coach Marc-Étienne Hubert said while commenting on his squad's effort. "We were really prepared for the game and we did the best that we could. We are going to build on this [experience] and it will help us get better."
The third-place tilt ended a three game in three days stretch for UQTR, including two overtime battles.
"I don't want to use it as an excuse," Hubert said when asked if fatigue was a factor as the game went on Sunday. "We also had a short line-up, but we did the best we could and battle hard," he added.
Both teams came up empty on the power play, with Guelph going 0-for-3, while UQTR could not score on five opportunities. The Gryphons held a 30-23 edge in shots on goal.
"These players were terrific; it was such a great group to coach," Camp said of his bronze medal-winning Gryphons.
1. UQTR Mathieu Tanguay-Thériault (1) (Guillaume Bélanger, Vincent Marcoux), 9:40
Leonard Fabbri (GUE) tripping, 6:35;
Steven Strong (GUE) tripping, 11:59;
Scott Simmonds (GUE) roughing, 16:36;
Antoine Quévillon (UQTR) roughing, 16:36;
Billy Lacasse (UQTR) checking from behind, 10-minute misconduct, 18:05.
2. GUE Scott Simmonds (2), 10:01
3. UQTR Guillaume Asselin (3) (Anthony Verret, Jason Rajotte), 5:28
Nicholas Trecapelli (GUE) interference, 7:57;
Billy Lacasse (UQTR) roughing, 14:06;
Ryan Strand (GUE) roughing, 14:06;
Andres Kopstals (GUE) hooking, 14:16;
Jordan Mock (GUE) slashing, 15:15;
Carl-Antoine Delisle (UQTR) roughing, 15:15;
Robert de Fulviis (GUE) cross checking, 10-minute misconduct, 15:59
4. GUE Daniel Broussard (1) (Nicholas Trecape, Carlos Amestoy), 1:32
Felix Plouffe (UQTR) hooking, 6:36;
Antoine Quévillon (UQTR) tripping, 10:02
5. GUE Kyle Neuber (1) (Ryan Strand, Daniel Broussard), 5:31
GOALS (by period)
GUE 1-1-0-0: 2
UQTR 1-0-1-1: 3
SHOTS ON GOAL (by period)
GUE 10-3-7-10: 30
UQTR 6-6-8-3: 23
GUE – Andrew D'Agostini (W, 2-1, 23 shots, 21 saves, 2 GA, 65:31)
UQTR – Guillaume Nadeau (L, 1-2, 30 shots, 27 saves, 3 GA, 65:31)
PLAYERS OF THE GAME:
GUE: Kyle Neuber
UQTR: Guillaume Asselin
Referees: Mario Maillet, Johnathan Langille
Linesmen: Josh De Young, Nicholas Melanson
START: 2:11 pm
END: 4:47 pm
CHAMPIONSHIP SCHEDULE & RESULTS (all times ATLANTIC TIME)
Thursday, March 12
13:00 Quarter-final 1: Guelph 3, Calgary 1
19:00 Quarter-final 2: UNB 6, Windsor 2
Friday, March 13
13:00 Quarter-final 3: UQTR 6, Acadia 5 (OT)
19:00 Quarter-final 4: Alberta 5, StFX 1
Saturday, March 14
12:00 Semifinal 1: UNB 5, Guelph 2
16:00 Semifinal 2: Alberta 5, UQTR 1
Sunday, March 15
14:00 Bronze: Guelph 3, UQTR 2 (OT)
18:30 Final: UNB vs Alberta (Sportsnet 360 / www.CIS-SIC.tv) *
* The webcast of the semifinals & final are on pay-per-view basis.