TORONTO, ON – It all comes down to this: the Queen’s Cup Final.
For the Brock Badgers and UQTR Patriots, it’s two sides of the same story. They are both playing in a final, both have a shot at the Queen’s Cup, but UQTR was supposed to be here as the #1 seed, Brock, not so much.
“It hasn’t been much of a surprise to us, ok maybe a little bit,” Brock GM Michael Raskin told 49 Sports. “Everyone is really excited to play in front of hour home fans, we’re going to get a big crowd, and it’s a big championship weekend for Brock Sports.”
Despite being the higher seed, the UQTR Patriotes make their way to St. Catharines, Ont. and Brock’s Seymour-Hannah Centre due to OUA regulations requiring the Queen’s Cup to be played in Ontario.
Starting at 7:15 p.m. ET on CBC Sports, the 110th Queen’s Cup is bound to be a low-scoring affair with two stingy and hard-checking defensive teams hitting the ice.
Brock to harness home crowd in search of a win
Vibes and hard work, but a lot of good vibes. That’s why the Brock Badgers can win.
The Brock Badgers are playing with house money at this point and are coming off a confidence-boosting upset of the #2 ranked Ryerson Rams. In their semifinal game, they outworked and outclassed the Rams right from puck drop and saw the playoff emergence of former OHL Champion Jacob Roach and stellar leadership from captain Jared Marino.
Outside of the top line, the Badgers have quiet scoring ability throughout the lineup with Christian Girhiny, Adam Berg and Frankie Pucci. All of them have proved to be valuable offensive pieces this season.
While Brock’s relentless style of play may not ‘wow’ a casual fan, they fight to get to loose pucks and never give up when an opponent has the puck. Led by interim head coach Kevin Forrest, the Badgers ensure that no scoring opportunities make their way into the high-scoring area and showed their ability to do that against a free-flowing Ryerson team that has scored with ease all season.
There will likely be a large crowd at their home rink, something rare for an off-campus arena, and the badgers will hope to give their fans not only a Queen’s Cup but a reason to follow the team more astutely in their move to the new on-campus facility next season.
“We don’t really have any nervous energy. They’re the #1, and we’re the #5,” Raskin said. “No one really expected us to be here; all of the pressure is on them [UQTR].”
UQTR look to the defensive structure in Queen’s Cup Final
The Pats come into this matchup with a minimal familiarity of the Badgers but will count on their stingy defensive structure and quick transition play. A fast transitioning team, the playoff has not been easy for UQTR. Nevertheless, they enter the OUA Final as the favourite.
In their semifinal, the Pats scored just 24 seconds into the first period, before limiting the Redbirds’ chances for 59 minutes en route to a 1-0 victory.
While head coach Marc-Ettiene Hubert’s team has their powerplay clicking along at 50% in the playoffs, they have only drawn two powerplays, ensuring that special teams won’t play a significant factor in the Queen’s Cup. However, even if they do, UQTR’s regular-season powerplay of 20.3% is not bad.
Scoring the first goal has been a theme recently for the Pats as well, putting a mark on the board before their opponents in the last seven games, combining playoffs and regular season.
Offensively, the Pats turn to playoff leading scorer Zachary Lavigne and his six points in three games, as well as Simon Lafrance, who leads the team with three goals in the postseason. Lafrance led the program in regular-season scoring with 20 points in 15 games and will be a constant threat when the Patriotes get on the attack.
UQTR’s blueline success likely rests on the shoulders of Justin Bergeron, Felix Boivin and Loik Leveille, three players who have been critical to a team that conceded the second least goals through the regular season.
In addition to stellar blueliners in an organized system, goaltender and former Chicago Blackhawks prospect Alexis Gravel will be called to action after posting a .942 save percentage through the regular season and stopping 69 shots of 73 through three playoff rounds.
Continuing the trend of scoring first will be more critical on Saturday than at any other point this season, as the Pats will look to silence the Badgers’ rambunctious crowd early in the game before solidifying their defensive structure.
The bronze medal game: Ryerson vs McGill for a U CUP spot
Both Brock and UQTR have already booked their tickets to Wolfville, Nova Scotia and the 2022 U CUP, and will be in the top four seeds, but there is one more spot up for grabs in the OUA.
The Ryerson Rams and McGill Redbirds play in a bronze medal game happening at the same time, with the winner booking the final seed at the tournament to likely take on the high-powered UNB Reds in the quarter-final.
Although taking on UNB may suggest an extremely short trip, you only have to turn to 2020 to see the OUA #3 team make the U CUP semifinal, with the Western Mustangs eliminating the Saskatchewan Huskies at the U CUP that never ended.