UNB claims University Cup title with win over Saskatchewan

The UNB men's hockey team has claimed back-to-back national titles for the first time ever.

The Varsity Reds defeated the Saskatchewan Huskies 5-3 in the University Cup final at the Aitken Centre on Sunday afternoon.

Cam Braes scored four goals for UNB, while Mark Simpson added the fifth goal.

UNB opened the scoring at 4:04 into the first period with a goal by Braes.

Saskatchewan countered with a goal at 10:47 to tie the score at 1-1.

Simpson scored for the Varsity Reds about 90 seconds later to give them a 2-1 lead.

In the second, Braes added a goal at 3:17 and a power play goal at 6:16 to extend UNB's lead to 4-1.

The Huskies added two power play goals – one at 8:25 in the second, the other at 4:17 in the third – to close the gap to 4-3.

Braes gave the Varsity Reds a 5-3 lead with one more power play goal at 8:50 in the third.

'It's a pretty special moment' to win at home

After the game, UNB head coach Gardiner MacDougall said it was really special to win the national title on home ice, especially in front of thousands of fans.

"The energy was terrific, you know, and we used the energy and we were persistent in our work ethic, and good things happen when you have that," said MacDougall.

"Saskatchewan's been a dominant team out west, and they've got a great team."

Team captain Cam Critchlow said the team faced many ups and downs during the season, but were able to overcome a lot of adversity.

Critchlow said it's extremely special to be able to win back-to-back national titles.

"It's a pretty special moment here to win at home," he said. "We've got a great group of guys. To be able to go back to back is pretty special."

Matt Murphy, who hails from Fredericton, said it's an incredible feeling to win the title in front of local fans.

Murphy said it was one of the most exciting games he's ever been part of.

"It's a little difficult just because we don't know their players that well," he said, "but our coaches, staff and everyone did a great job showing us video, and our team was ready to play right from this morning."

Dave Adolph, head coach of the Saskatchewan Huskies, said they knew going into the game that they'd have to play their best against the Varsity Reds.

Adolph said UNB is a strong team with a lot of experience players.

"They're a bear, you know, how do you handle them?" he said. "I thought when we got to 4-3 that maybe we could put a little pressure on them, but they just rope-a-dope got themselves out of trouble and then scored 5-3 in the power play."

UNB will host the University Cup tournament again in 2018.