MONCTON, N.B. - The favoured New Brunswick Varsity Reds have punched their ticket back to the national hockey final.
Kyle Bailey, John Scott Dickson, Robert Pearce and Hunter Tremblay each scored as the top-ranked Varsity Reds blanked the fourth-seeded Saskatchewan Huskies 4-0 on the final day of round robin action Saturday at the Canadian university men's hockey championship.
New Brunswick, the defending national champions, finish first for Pool A at 2-0. The Huskies go 1-1.
"Going back to the finals is obviously something ever player wants to do," said Dickson, who finished with two points and was named New Brunswick's player of the game. "It's pretty special. I'm excited."
The Varsity Reds will face the No. 2 Alberta Golden Bears in Sunday's championship game. The idle Bears finished first in Pool B thanks to 3-0 victory by the third-seeded McGill Redmen over the sixth-ranked Moncton Aigles Bleus on Saturday night.
Alberta, McGill and Moncton all wound up with 1-1 records, but the Golden Bears win the tie-breaker thanks to the best goals-for-and-against differential.
New Brunswick dominated in all aspects against Saskatchewan to advance to the final. The Varsity Reds generated good offensive opportunities, defended well, and when called upon, goaltender Michael Ouzas stood his ground in making 23 stops.
The Varsity Reds also delivered a strong, consistent forecheck, and pounded the Huskies with several big-time hits.
New Brunswick scored in every period against the Huskies. They took over the game with a pair of goals in the second.
"I think they're equally as deep this year as they were last year," said Huskies head coach Dave Adolph, whose team also lost to New Brunswick at the 2007 nationals. "They are strong front-to-back.
"We knew that. We knew their depth was going to be huge."
The Varsity Reds have now won 21-straight games dating back to Jan. 1. They have also outscored their opponents 10-1 at this championship. New Brunswick opened the tournament with a 6-1 win over the fifth-seeded Brock Badgers.
"We know (Sunday) we have to be a little bit better than today," said Varsity Reds head coach Gardiner MacDougall. "The group has bought into that. They're excited about the opportunity."
In the McGill victory, the Redmen were clinging to a 1-0 lead midway through the third, but tallied an important insurance marker when blue-liner Ben Gazdic blasted a point shot past Moncton netminder Kevin Lachance during a 5-on-3 advantage. Yan Turcotte iced the win on an empty-netter with 59.7 seconds left.
Goaltender Mathieu Poitras shone brightest for the Redmen, finishing with 40 stops, including 17 in the third period. Guillaume Demers put McGill ahead in the first with his third goal of the tournament.
"The only thing we wanted was to finish on a high note, and that's what we did," said Demers, whose club lost to Alberta 7-3 on Friday. "It's kind of sad (we didn't move on), but in the end, we won the last game of our season."
Moncton, which lost last year's national final to New Brunswick in overtime, would've made it back to the championship game with a win.
"If we tied the game 1-1, then we have the momentum," said Moncton head coach Bob Mongrain. "We couldn't break ice. That hurt us in the end."