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A hockey puck goes into the Moncton net
2024 U Cup All Recaps Sports

UQTR advances in U Cup after handling Moncton

By Mitchell Fox

The Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières (UQTR) Patriotes defeated the Moncton Aigles Bleus 5-1 in the quarterfinals of the 2024 U Sports men’s hockey national tournament on Friday afternoon at the Mattamy Athletic Centre (MAC).

With the win, UQTR advance to the semi-finals, where they will play the winner of the last quarterfinal game between the University of British Columbia (UBC) Thunderbirds or the McGill Redbirds.

The second day of the tournament started out how the Queen’s Cup-winning Patriotes would have liked. They scored in the first minute and carried a 3-0 lead out of the opening frame, never looking back.

Moncton head coach Derek Cormier said his team was chasing from the start and though they fought back well, the bounces did not fall in their favour.

“To come back and get three goals against a team like that, a goaltender like that, it’s not going to come easy,” he said. “We had our chances and the bounces maybe didn’t go our way here and there, and that could change the game.” 

The Patriotes, who defeated the Toronto Metropolitan University Bold 3-2 in double overtime in the Queen’s Cup final, carried momentum and confidence into the match, wasting no time to show they deserved a third-straight trip to the semi-finals.

  • Hockey players from UQTR hug each other while others celebrate
  • A Moncton player kneels on the ice in sadness after losing
  • A UQTR player skates with the puck while a Moncton players tries to go for the puck
  • A hockey puck on the ice as hockey players skate on the ice
  • A hockey puck flies into the net
  • A Moncton player hides his face behind his hand
  • A player from UQTR high fives his bench
  • The Moncton hockey players hug each other after their loss
  • A UQTR player high fives his bench
  • UQTR players huddle together
  • A hockey puck goes into the Moncton net

They opened the scoring in a hurry, with first-year forward Charles Beaudoin burying a one-timer from the slot off a pass from fourth-year forward Simon Lafrance just 55 seconds into the game. 

Lafrance said the team has been focused on how they start games since the beginning of the Ontario University Athletics playoffs.

“We try to focus on every minute at a time, not think about the result or something like that. Just think about the first period and then we’re rolling through to the win,” he said.

UQTR added another goal only a few minutes later, with Lafrance making another cross-crease pass to a teammate in the slot, this time to first-year defender Kaylen Gauthier. Lafrance then scored a goal of his own—a precise shot off the post and in—to give the Patriotes a 3-0 lead less than 12 minutes into the game. 

Lafrance, the Patriotes’ leading scorer through the regular season, had four points in the game, his most in a U Cup game. After a seven-point performance during UQTR’s championship run in 2022, he had one goal in three games last year. 

“It’s not all about points, just playing on the same line and trying to win with our team, it’s pretty special for us”

His younger brother, second-year forward Felix Lafrance, had two goals of his own in the game, both on the powerplay. Felix Lafrance is playing in his second U Cup tournament, after being a part of last year’s second-place Patriotes.

The Lafrance brothers’ skill and ability to create open ice proved too much for the Aigles Bleus—who Simon Lafrance said had a strong goaltender and defence corps.

The two brothers each called the other “a hell of a player.” Simon Lafrance said it’s the best feeling for a family when both brothers contribute in one game. 

“When he plays like that, he gives us a chance to win too, so I couldn’t be more happy for him,” said Simon Lafrance.

Felix said the brothers’ parents texted them after the game.

“They were super happy for us,” he said. “It’s not all about points, just playing on the same line and trying to win with our team, it’s pretty special for us.”

The Aigles Bleus tried to get their offence going late in the first period as they built off of a late power play, even forcing another penalty in the dying seconds, but UQTR was not going to give anything—including momentum—away easily. 

“I believe in a lot of our guys. So when we got the early [goal], it made us confident. It was easier for me knowing the score was up,” said UQTR goaltender Alexis Gravel.

Gravel made 36 saves on 37 shots in the game, swallowing up a lot of pucks early in the second and third periods when the Aigles Bleus were pressing.

The second period started out well for the Aigles Bleus as they built momentum off the power play, but from there the Patriotes shut down any hopes of a comeback. 

After Felix Lafrance increased UQTR’s lead to four on the power play, first-year forward Jeremy Lapointe got Moncton on the board in a hurry with a quick shot past Gravel’s blocker. However, a five-minute game misconduct penalty to third-year forward William Basque for cross-checking gave Felix Lafrance a chance to do some more damage.

The younger Lafrance brother made a patient deke around Moncton first-year goaltender Olivier Adam and slid the puck into the empty cage to give UQTR another four-goal lead.

“My first goal was to find my brother backdoor, but when I saw the defenceman going on him, I was just wide open,” Felix Lafrance said of the goal.

Gravel, who was also on the team that won the U Cup in 2022, said the team is happy to have the Lafrance’s. 

“I’m glad you guys didn’t see practice, because when they go against me, they go hard,” he said.

Felix Lafrance said when he joined the team in 2022, there was a championship mentality with the players who had already won. Now, he said that has continued with the young players at that time as the leaders this time around.

“It’s just a culture,” he said.

UP NEXT: UQTR will take on the winner of UBC vs. McGill in the U Cup semi-final at 7 p.m. on Saturday at the MAC.

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