March 26, 2022

Article at Ontario University Athletics

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Banner Season: Brock hosts UQTR looking to hoist historic hockey hardware for first time

Burlington, Ont. (via David DiCenzo) – It’s an iconic trophy. OUA men’s hockey players dream of the day when the Queen’s Cup, the sport’s second-oldest piece of hardware behind only the Stanley Cup, is in their possession. Since it was first awarded to McGill in 1903, the Queen’s Cup has been the benchmark for provincial collegiate success on the ice.

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The OUA’s last two standing teams will settle whose name goes on the cup next – one a champion on multiple occasions, and the other in search of its first ever banner. The UQTR Patriotes make the long journey to St. Catharines this weekend for a tantalizing Queen’s Cup matchup with the Brock Badgers at Seymour-Hannah Centre. The deciding game is scheduled for Saturday, March 26 with the puck dropping at 7:15 pm. The broadcast can also be seen live on

UQTR, currently ranked No. 4 in the country, officially arrived as a program when they won the 1991 Queen’s Cup and a subsequent national championship. The Patriotes would add eight more OUA titles since, including a run of five consecutive banners from 1999 to 2003. The fact is, there is championship DNA at the school, which last won back in 2016. The quest for a 10th began with a first-place finish in the OUA’s Far East Division, with UQTR going 10-4-1 in the regular season.

This Patriotes roster is well-stocked with talent, beginning with Far East all-stars in forward Simon Lafrance and rookie defenceman Justin Bergeron. Lafrance, a second-year man who played in the QMJHL with the Victoriaville Tigers before arriving at UQTR, topped the team with seven goals and 13 assists. Bergeron transitioned to the league seamlessly, scoring once and adding 10 helpers in 14 regular season games. Former Halifax Mooseheads goalie Alexis Gravel starred between the pipes, posting an 8-3 record, with a .924 save percentage, and 2.06 goals against average (second in the OUA).

Lafrance began his postseason with a two-goal performance in the Patriotes’ 6-1 demolition of the Carleton Ravens back on March 16. UQTR started fast with three goals in the first period, including Lafrance’s opener just six minutes in, and closed with three more goals in the third. That offensive efficiency continued in the OUA East semifinal against Ontario Tech. Rookie winger Felix-Antoine Marcotty bulged the twine less than four minutes in and the flood gates opened from there. The Patriotes would score five unanswered, including two straight from third-year alternate captain Mathieu Boucher. Despite an uneasy third period, UQTR advanced with a 6-3 win, with Gravel turning away 27 of 30 shots faced.

Gravel also showed up when needed in the East final against McGill. He made 16 saves for the shutout in a tight 1-0 win, with the lone goal of the game coming from third-year winger Maxime Chagnon just 24 seconds after the opening faceoff. The gritty UQTR performance assured they would be able to compete for yet another school banner.

Brock enters the Queen’s Cup final ranked No. 9 in U SPORTS, following a third-place finish in the OUA West (7-5-2 record). Third-year forward Christian Girhiny was the team’s points leader, scoring five times to go along with 10 assists, while second-year man Jared Marino paced the Badgers with seven goals. Brock staggered to the finish line, losing five of their last six games, but the results came when it mattered most, thanks to a series of postseason offensive explosions. The grit was evident in a tough road game against the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks in the West quarterfinal. The game was tied 2-2 late in the third period when Marino scored on the power play, which proved to be the winning goal. After following that up with two quick empty-netters, Brock left Waterloo with a hard-fought 5-2 win. The Badgers cranked up the offence in the next playoff game while hosting the York Lions at the Seymour-Hannah Centre. The home crowd was treated to an 8-2 beatdown of York, with Justin Brack and Tyler Burnie each tallying twice, and goaltender Mario Peccia making 27 saves for the win.

The West final had a similar script to Brock’s opening-round victory. The Badgers went on the road to face Ryerson and once again, found themselves in a 2-2 battle with everything to play for. Like they did at Laurier, the team emerged with the W. Zachary Taylor scored the go-ahead goal late in the second period on the power play, with Girhiny and Adam Berg assisting. Jacob Roach got his second goal of the game early in the third for some insurance before Brack added an empty-netter to book Brock’s spot in the championship game.

Both UQTR and Brock have saved their best hockey for this critical time of year. After a year away from the ice, each hopes they have one more big-game performance so they can add the storied trophy to the case.