MONCTON, N.B. - The Alberta Golden Bears are golden again.
Ian McDonald's power play marker with 8:27 remaining in the third period propelled the second-ranked Bears to a 3-2 victory over the top-seeded and defending champion New Brunswick Varsity Reds in the Canadian university men's hockey final Sunday night before 4,712 fans.
Alberta, which has now won a record 13 men's national hockey titles, broke the 2-2 deadlock when McDonald scored at the side of the New Brunswick goal on a perfect feed from in close by Tim Krymusa.
"I was in the right place at the right time," McDonald said, as his teammates celebrated behind him. "It just bounced right on my stick and I had an open cage to put it in."
The Varsity Reds, who went into Sunday's game winners of 21-straight, desperately tried to pot the equalizer, including on a power play in the final five minutes. New Brunswick's best chance to force overtime came when rookie sniper Hunter Tremblay hit the post on a one-timer with 1:40 remaining.
After withstanding one final press by New Brunswick in the dying seconds, the horn sounded and the Alberta players celebrated in unison, with goaltender Aaron Sorochan firing his stick in the air in celebration.
"It is extra sweet coming in as the underdog," said McDonald, who was named tournament MVP with four goals and two assists in three games. "We knew we had a good team. We knew they had a good team. Both teams played very well tonight. The game could have gone either way."
Krymusa and Brian Woolger also scored for Alberta, which twice came back from one-goal deficits. Justin DaCosta and Rob Hennigar replied for the Varsity Reds, the No. 1 ranked team in Canada all season.
Sorochan finished with 40 saves, several of which were of the highlight variety. Alberta fired 25 shots at New Brunswick netminder Michael Ouzas.
"Those guys had some good shots. And I got lucky," Sorochan said. "That post in the third period was key. I'm going to go give it a kiss once I'm done here."
Alberta may want to show the same affection to the McGill Redmen. After dropping its round-robin opener to the Moncton Aigles Bleus on Thursday night, Alberta defeated McGill on Friday, then waited to see if Redmen could beat the tournament hosts on Saturday by seven goals or less.
McGill did, winning 3-0, which meant Alberta was off to the final thanks to the best goals-for-and-against differential in Pool B.
"We thought they were going to do it, and they did," Sorochan said of McGill. "Luckily, we were here.
"It just seemed like fate this season."
As for New Brunswick, a remarkable season ends on a disappointing note. The Varsity Reds went into the final losing just four games in 47 starts. That included a 26-1-0-1 record during the regular season, and a 7-0 mark in the playoffs.
"It's disappointing because the ultimate goal is to win your last game," said Varsity Reds head coach Gardiner MacDougall. "They probably didn't get fully rewarded for everything they did all year, but that's sport. That's hockey. That's why it's the greatest game in the country."