Toronto Metropolitan University's Independent Student Newspaper Since 1967

UNB players celebrate on the ice
2024 U Cup All Sports

UNB looks to put bow on flawless season in U Cup final against UQTR

By Alex Wauthy

The University of New Brunswick (UNB) Reds are in pursuit of perfection. 

The UNB squad had a perfect regular season, a perfect Atlantic University Sport (AUS) playoffs and is one game away from a perfect U Sports men’s hockey national tournament. Their historic run through the U Sports field is unprecedented, leading to high praise from those left devastated by their rampage. 

“You might say they are the best team there has ever been in U Sports,” said Brock Badgers head coach TJ Manastersky following their loss to UNB. “They are just a complete team.”

UNB mauled the Badgers 4-0 during their opening-game rout of the national tournament. Then, they embarrassed the hosting Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU) Bold 7-0 as Reds’ fans flooded the Mattamy Athletic Centre (MAC), out-chanting and out-cheering the host team’s crowd. 

“It was embarrassing for us going out there and losing like that,” said third-year Bold forward and captain Chris Playfair after TMU’s loss. “We got to look ourselves in the mirror.” 

UNB outshot their two opponents by a combined shot count of 93-33. The potentially perfect squad requires a perfect performance from their opposition to take them down. 

“We have a mantra…we are just getting started here,” said UNB head Gardiner McDougall.

“Have you ever seen a season like that from a team in university hockey?

Despite being plagued with injuries, inexperience and a sub-24-hour turnaround ahead of Sunday’s 5 p.m. start, the Université…(UQTR) Patriotes are the only team remaining with a chance to dethrone the titans of U Sports.

The U Sports men’s hockey national championship will commence on Sunday at the MAC, and both teams will duke it out for the U Cup. Both teams have recently won the national title, with UNB seeking back-to-back championships while UQTR is looking to restore their hold in sports after winning in 2022. 

UQTR’s 2024 U Cup-challenging squad and the team that won it all in 2022 are vastly different. In fact, UQTR did not expect to be in this position—not even their head coach. 

“At the beginning of the year, we had 12 rookies in the lineup, so it’s the beginning of a new cycle,” said UQTR head coach Marc-Etienne Hubert. “We want to keep the program standard really high.”

  • A UQTR player celebrates on the ice by kneeling
  • UNB players celebrate by hugging each other in a huddle
  • UQTR hockey players smile and celebrate
  • UNB players celebrate a goal on the ice
  • UQTR celebrate in a huddle on the ice
  • A UQTR player celebrates a goal by yelling
  • A TMU player and the TMU goalie look on as a puck goes into the TMU net while UNB players celebrate
  • A UQTR player celebrates after scoring a goal
  • UNB players celebrate after scoring on the TMU net

Their lack of experience didn’t inhibit their ability to win close games, including their double-overtime Queen’s Cup victory against TMU and a gutsy 5-4 win over the McGill Redbirds in the semi-finals. Now entering tonight’s match-up as the clearcut underdogs, there’s nowhere to hide their flaws against a team that thrives on opportunity and capitalizes misplays. 

Despite fielding a side consisting of 12 first-year players, the Patriotes rookies are helping push their team over the top. Forward William Dumoulin and defenceman Edouard Cournoyer nabbed goals in their semi-final victory over McGill, while forwards Charles Beaudoin and Kaylen Gauthier snagged markers in their 5-1 coup of the Moncton Aigles Bleus. 

However, the offence always comes back to the brotherly duo of Simon and Felix Lafrance. The two have combined for 13 points in two tournament games, including nine against Moncton. 

“We want to keep the program standard really high”

Third-year goaltender Alexis Gravel is the backbone of UQTR. The netminder had a standout performance in the Queen’s Cup, and despite letting four goals sneak by him against McGill, second-year forward Conor Frenette is impressed with his goalie’s play. 

“There is a reason we call him the wall,” said Frenette. “I think he always comes up big in big games. I’m proud to have him in my net, and he came up big today. We got the win because of him.” 

On the other end, UNB is still undecided about which of their two goaltenders will start the gold medal match. 

Second-year goaltender Samuel Richard is boasting two shutouts through two U Cup matches. His counterpart, third-year Griffen Outhouse, started three AUS playoff games to Richard’s two. 

With the UQTR entering a new era, their contest against UNB serves as a chance to continue their prolonged success by knocking off what may be “the best team” in U Sports history. 

“It’s one of the biggest challenges in the history of the program,” said Hubert. “Have you ever seen a season like that from a team in university hockey?” 

With files from Dexter LeRuez and Blake Talabis

Leave a Reply