CHARLOTTETOWN, PEI – While the UQTR Patriotes came to Charlottetown hoping to defend their U SPORTS gold medal, they’re still heading home with some hardware.
Following a 6-3 loss to the UNB Reds in the semifinal, the two-time defending OUA Queen’s Cup champions regrouped and refocused ahead of Sunday en route to a 3-2 victory, winning a bronze medal against the UPEI Panthers.
The Panthers, who emotionally fell 4-1 to the Alberta Golden Bears in Saturday’s semifinal, settled for fourth place in Canada, cracking the top four at the U SPORTS tournament for the fifth time in program history.
As well, the Panthers had their full complement of players, with Zac Beauregard, who sparked an altercation against Alberta, avoiding any suspension. No other players received further discipline from Saturday night’s loss either.
The Patriotes opened the scoring reasonably early in the first period, controlling possession on a powerplay with UPEI’s Kaleb Pearson in the box. UQTR cycled the puck on the advantage before working it to defenceman David Noël, who one-timed a shot just as Pearson exited the box.
From that point, the Patriotes controlled the first period, adding a second goal on a fortuitous bounce off the back boards on a dumped-in puck, allowing Mathieu Boucher to double the lead on a slap shot.
While UPEI continued to take penalties, they stayed in the game with UQTR, killing all three opportunities, despite spending significant time shorthanded.
UPEI came out with far more energy in the second period, controlling the puck below the UQTR goalline before eventually beating goaltender Alexis Gravel with a rebound finish from Pearson to cut the deficit in half.
The pressure continued from the Panthers throughout the frame as Ian Smallwood waited patiently along the blueline before sending a slap shot over the shoulder of Gravel to tie the game and erase the deficit.
Yet, the erased lead didn’t last long, with the Patriotes ending the period up 3-2 on a goal from Vincent Milot-Ouellet, who scored his first of the tournament.
Neither team was able to find the back of the net in the final frame, with UPEI goaltender Jonah Capriotti ending the afternoon with 20 saves. UQTR’s Gravel pushed 22 shots aside.
Although the bronze medal isn’t what the veteran-laden UQTR Patriotes hoped for, they remained on the U CUP podium and set a standard for the significant recruiting class set to make its way to campus in the fall.
Meanwhile, UPEI over-achieved on many expectations, rebounding well after losing in the first round of the AUS playoffs to finishing the season as the fourth-best team in U SPORTS.