CHARLOTTETOWN, PEI – The UNB Reds are back on top.
After bitter disappointment in last year’s tournament in Wolfville, Nova Scotia, the AUS champions pulled away from the Alberta Golden Bears late in Sunday’s U SPORTS U CUP Men’s Hockey Championship final. They won 3-0, bringing yet another championship back to Fredericton, N.B.
After a scoreless first period, the teams traded chances to kick off the second. The best was undoubtedly an Alberta shot that turned into a gaping rebound with the net open to UNB goalie Samuel Richard’s left. An Alberta attacker let the shot go, but UNB’s Justin Nolet swooped in at the last second to block it with his stick shaft, keeping the game scoreless.
With just under seven minutes left in the period, Jared Freadrich of Alberta and UNB’s Simon Pinard got tied up at the Alberta blue line in a puck contest. As the many Reds fans in the crowd shouted for a call, there was an unintended consequence: the puck was untouched and up for grabs in the Alberta zone.
Cody Morgan zipped past the melee between Freadrich and Pinard, grabbing the free puck. Outskating Joe Sexsmith by a fraction of a second, Morgan cradled the wobbling puck and wristed it through the legs of Ethan Kruger. 33 minutes into the gold medal game, the Reds struck first.
UNB didn’t let up from there. They dominated the third and deciding period, allowing just a few Alberta shots and making life very easy for goaltender Richard. After tons of shots Kruger’s way, Cole MacKay picked up the puck in front of the net and dived to the goalie’s left, beating him out with a wraparound-like move for the 2-0 goal. In the final four minutes, veteran scorer Austen Keating all but sealed the deal by burying a rebound.
With the win, UNB has won four of the last five and six of the last 11 U CUPs. It is their eighth national title in program history. Meanwhile, Alberta remains winless in the U CUP final since 2018. They last beat the Reds for the gold medal in 2015.