UNB Varsity Reds capture second CIS Championship in three yearsBy Tony von Richter, for the Aquinian
In a tournament featuring exciting finishes and at least one big upset, the 2009 CIS Men’s Hockey Championships may be best remembered for introducing University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds forward Lachlan MacIntosh to the national stage.
MacIntosh scored a hat trick in Sunday’s championship game against the University of Western Ontario Mustangs to lead the Reds to a 4-2 victory. The win is UNB’s second in three years, and third in school history.
A third-year Kinesiology student from Perth-Andover, New Brunswick, MacIntosh was named tournament MVP for his three-goal performance on Sunday as well as a two-goal game against the top seed University of Alberta Golden Bears on the opening night of the tournament. MacIntosh’s five goals nearly match his regular season total of nine.
“It’s a pretty great feeling,” said MacIntosh, moments after winning the championship. “I’d have to say a hat-trick takes a back seat behind a championship. It’s definitely a dream of a lifetime and it’s great to go through with the bunch of guys we have here on this team.”
“[MacIntosh] just brought it. He brought it the first game against Alberta, brought it the second game against Lakehead, and then he just took it to another level tonight,” said UNB head coach Gardiner MacDougall. “It was outstanding for a kid who has never played a game in major junior. He’s been getting better every year for us, and that’s what you need. You need complete efforts and you need those people to come through. He was outstanding for us.”
The Reds road to the University Cup started on the opening night of the tournament with a rematch of last year’s national final against the Golden Bears. The Bears defeated UNB 3-2 last year to claim their record-breaking 13th University Cup.
Despite facing one of the top goaltenders in the nation in Aaron Sorochan, the Reds got out to a quick lead, eventually taking a 5-1 lead into the first intermission, en route to a 6-3 UNB victory.
Alberta head coach Eric Thurston mentioned uncharacteristic mistakes as one of the main reasons his team fell behind early on saying “you can’t do that with a good team… good teams like that make you pay, and they made us pay.”
The Reds took to the ice against the host Lakehead University Thunderwolves who lost a 2-1 decision to the Golden Bears in their first game of the tournament. Due to the structure of the tournament, the Thunderwolves needed to win by two goals or more to advance to the championship final but were unable to do so, falling 3-1 to UNB.
The loss was especially hard for Lakehead goaltender Chris Whitley as this was the last weekend of his CIS career. Following the loss to UNB the crowd saluted Whitley with a standing ovation as a thank you for his storied career.
“I’ve played in front of the best fans for the past five years so for them to do that was very heartwarming, I appreciate it a lot,” said Whitley. “Obviously you’d like to go out on a win and be saluting them tomorrow but again, the fans are unbelievable and I’d just like to thank them for that, it was very nice of them.
On the other side of the draw, the Western Mustangs had a much more difficult road to the final thanks to an 4-3 loss to the McGill Redmen in their first game, leaving them with the daunting task of beating Saint Mary’s by more than three goals to advance.
Through the first two periods it looked as though the Mustangs wouldn’t be able to generate the offence needed to secure a finals birth, then came the third period where Western potted five goals in the frame to upset the No. 2 seed Saint Mary’s and earn their spot in the national final.
“I think going into the third everyone knew we needed to win by three and we talked about how we were just going to leave everything out on the ice and I think we did that,” said Mustangs centre Kevin Baker. “We raised our game to another level and I don’t know if we’ve played at that level this whole year, but it was the perfect time for it.”
That momentum didn’t carry over to the championship as the Mustangs went nearly the entire first period without recording a shot on goal against UNB. The teams then traded goals before MacIntosh scored his second and third goals of the day to give UNB their third national crown.