ALL-CANADIANS PUSH NO. 2 HUSKIES PAST MCGILL

THUNDER BAY, Ont. - Sophomore defenceman Andrew Hotham scored twice and added an assist while fellow all-Canadians Scott Hotham and Marc Rancourt had two points apiece as the No.2-seeded Saint Mary's Huskies defeated No.5 McGill 4-1 in the opening game of the 2009 CIS men's hockey University Cup championship, Thursday afternoon, at the Fort William Gardens.

With the win, the AUS champion Huskies (1-0) take the early lead in Pool B and get a day off on Friday before facing the No. 3 Western Ontario Mustangs (0-0) in their second and final round-robin duel Saturday at 2 p.m. (Rogers Sportsnet).

The Redmen (0-1) will battle Western Friday at 2 p.m. in a rematch of the OUA Queen's Cup final, won 2-1 by the Mustangs on March 14.

Cavendish University Cup website: www.cisport.ca/e/championships/m_hockey/2009

The story of the game was Saint Mary's lethal power play, which connected three times in eight opportunities, including twice in the second period to break a scoreless tie. The Huskies had the best man advantage in the nation during conference play clicking at 28 per cent.

Saint Mary's couldn't beat freshman goaltender Kevin Desfossés of Beauport, Que., in the first stanza despite a 17-7 advantage in shots on goal. The AUS champs resumed their domination in the middle frame, outshooting McGill 17-3 to finish with a 40-20 edge.

"We were a little concerned after the first (period). You're always concerned when you play this well and can't put one in the net," said Saint Mary's head coach Trevor Stienburg, a two-time CIS coach of the year. "But we knew their goaltender was great, we had a good scouting report on them."

"For us it was a matter of keeping the pressure and keep playing well," continued Stienburg. "We knew we'd be OK in the end if we kept doing the things we do well."

Andrew, the youngest of the two Hotham brothers from Barrie, Ont., opened the scoring 11:11 into the second period and added the insurance marker early in the third. The second-team all-Canadian was the highest-scoring rearguard in the country this season with 43 points in 28 contests.

"We got a great effort from everyone today. Everyone battled very hard," said Hotham, who earned Saint Mary's player-of-the-game honours. "The power play got us going, it's been a big key to our success."

Big brother Scott, a fourth-year defenceman and a member of the first all-Canadian squad, set up Saint Mary's first two goals including the game-winner by sophomore forward Cody Thornton of Halifax 2:07 before the second intermission, also on the power play.

"Once we started to settle down, we were OK," Hotham said. "The first win in this tournament is always huge, but now we have to move on and beat Western on Saturday, if not, chances are it won't mean anything."

Rancourt, a fourth-year left-winger from Gloucester, Ont., who was named CIS player of the year after he led the nation with 57 points, picked up assists on the Huskies second and fourth markers.

"We're a very talented team, but also a very deep team," Rancourt said. "Our third and fourth line carried us for the first 30 minutes until our power play got going."

The Huskies came out flying in the first, taking the first six shots of the afternoon. The Redmen didn't register their first shot on net until 9:35 in.

McGill killed off back-to-back penalties early on, including a two-man disadvantage for 21 seconds.

A sprawling Desfossés saved a sure goal during the first penalty extending his right pad to rob Colin Power of Mt. Pearl, Nfld.

The Redmen got into more penalty trouble in the second frame and this time the Huskies made them pay.

Andrew Hotham opened the scoring while senior rearguard Yan Turcotte of Laval, Que., was in the box for slashing. The six-foot-two, 190-pound rearguard received a pass from his brother and roofed the puck on a wrist shot from the left circle.

The goal came a minute after Desfossés had robbed the younger Hotham from up close.

Turcotte was caught again at 17:43, this time for holding, and Saint Mary's doubled its lead only 10 seconds into their seventh power-play opportunity of the contest.

Defossés stopped a point shot from Scott Hotham but the rebound went straight to the stick of Thornton, who buried the puck into an open net.

McGill was outshot 17-3 in the middle period while their only two power-play chances were both nullified by a pair of too-many-men-on-the-ice calls.

The teams exploded for three goals in a span of 2:12 early in the third stanza.

Andrew Hotham made it 3-0 at 4:03 when he beat Desfossés low on the blocker side for his second of the day, but rookie defenceman Marc-André Dorion of St-Hubert, Que., responded 31 seconds later, putting McGill on the board with a blast from the point.

Sophomore forward Cam Fergus of Brantford, Ont., put the game out of reach at 6:15, during another Saint Mary's man advantage, when he converted a cross-ice pass from Andrew Hotham, who picked up his third point of the match.

"We knew they were really fast and physical, so we weren't surprised by anything they threw at us," said McGill bench boss Martin Raymond, the OUA East coach of the year. "We needed to help Kevin more, he was awesome but he can't be expected to stop them all."

"We got off to a rough start, all those penalties early on were definitely frustrating," said co-captain Éric L'Italien, a fifth-year right-winger from Ste-Foy, Que.

Senior blueliner Ken Morin of St-Prosper, Que., the other Redmen co-captain, was named game MVP for McGill.

Third-year netminder Brandon Verge of Fall River, N.S., named the AUS championship MVP following Saint Mary's 2-1 series win over UNB, earned the victory in his first University Cup start.

GAME NOTES: It marked the first meeting in history between the two schools at the University Cup championship...Saint Mary's was skating at the CIS tournament for the first time since 2002, while McGill's three championship appearances have come since 2006.

SCORING SUMMARY

No.2 Saint Mary's 4, No.5 McGill 1

FIRST PERIOD
SCORING:

No scoring.
PENALTIES:
Marc-André Daneau (McG) tripping, 3:33; Erik Stilling (McG) holding, 5:12.

SECOND PERIOD
SCORING:

1. SMU Andrew Hotham (1) (Scott Hotham), 11:11 PP
2. SMU Cody Thornton (1) (Marc Rancourt, Scott Hotham), 17:53 PP
PENALTIES:
David MacDonald (SMU) holding, 1:35; McG (served by Marko Kovacevic) too many men, 2:27; Ben Gadzic (McG) tripping, 8:49; Yan Turcotte (McG) slashing, 10:54; Colin Power (SMU) tripping, 12:47; McG (served by Ben Gadzic) too many men, 13:36; Yan Turcotte (McG) holding, 17:43.

THIRD PERIOD
SCORING:

3. SMU Andrew Hotham (2) (unassisted), 4:03
4. McG Marc-André Dorion (1) (Sam Bloom), 4:34
5. SMU Cam Fergus (1) (Andrew Hotham, Marc Rancourt), 6:15 PP
PENALTIES:
Kevin Desfossés (McG) slashing, 5:55; Kyle Doucet (SMU) hooking, 8:40; Kyle Doucet (SMU) interference, 12:53.

GOALS (by period)
SMU: 0-2-2:4
McG: 0-0-1:1

SHOTS ON GOAL (by period)
SMU: 17-17-6:40
McG: 7-3-10:20

POWER PLAY:
SMU: 3-8
McG: 0-4

GOALTENDERS
SMU - Brandon Verge (W, 1-0, 20 shots, 19 saves, 1 GA, 60:00)
McG - Kevin Desfossés (L, 0-1, 40 shots, 36 saves, 4 GA, 60:00)

PLAYERS OF THE GAME:
SMU: Andrew Hotham
McG: Ken Morin

REFEREE: Derek Zalaski

LINESMEN: Scott Garrod, Éric Dagenais

ATTENDANCE: 2,399

SCHEDULE & RESULTS (All times Eastern)

Pool A

1. Alberta
4. UNB
6. Lakehead

Pool B
2. Saint Mary's
3. Western Ontario
5. McGill

Thursday, March 26
Pool B #1: Saint Mary's 4, McGill 1
19:30 Pool A #1: No. 1 Alberta vs. No. 4 UNB (SSN Canada webcast)

Friday, March 27
14:00 Pool B #2: No. 3 Western vs. No. 5 McGill (SSN Canada webcast)
19:30 Pool A #2: No. 6 Lakehead vs. Loser Pool A #1 (SSN Canada webcast)

Saturday, March 28
14:00 Pool B #3: No. 3 Western vs. No. 2 Saint Mary's (Rogers Sportsnet / SSN Canada webcast)
19:00 Pool A #3: No. 6 Lakehead vs. Winner Pool A #1 (Rogers Sportsnet / SSN Canada webcast)

Sunday, March 29
14:00 Final (Rogers Sportsnet / SSN Canada webcast)

Source: CIS Communications

Photo Credit: Michael P. Hall
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