Alberta wins gold at university hockey championship over St. FX

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Alberta wins gold at university hockey championship over St. FX

The Alberta Golden Bears claimed their 16th men's national university hockey championship with a win over the St. Francis Xavier X-Men in Fredericton on Sunday.

Golden Bear Clayton Kirichenko didn't know what to think as the clock struck zero, and he became a champion. 

"It rushed over me pretty quick," said Krichenko. "It's tough to really put words to it. It's amazing."

The St. Francis Xavier X-Men started the game by scoring the first two goals, but Alberta responded later in the first period with back-to-back goals of their own.

The X-Men were looking for their first championship since 2004 and their second ever. Meanwhile, Alberta won their last championship in 2015.

The Golden Bears scored early in the second period to take their first lead of the game. Alberta had to kill two penalties where they were down two players, but were able to keep the X-Men from scoring both times.

The Golden Bears held on in the third period, scored an empty-net goal to make it 4-2, and came away with the championship.

Alberta coach Serge Lajoie said this championship run really started at this time last year.

"This process started when we came here championship Sunday [last year] to watch UNB beat Saskatchewan, and I think our guys realized how hard it is to win," said Lajoie. 

"I'm glad that one year later we're able to hoist the cup."

It wasn't an easy road for either team to the finals. Both teams played in overtime on Saturday to get to the gold medal game.

UNB hangs on for bronze medal

Before the opening faceoff, neither the Saskatchewan Huskies or the UNB Varsity Reds were too interested in playing a morning game for the bronze medal of the University Cup hockey championship. 

But Varsity Reds coach Gardiner MacDougall reminded his players of Team Canada's semifinal loss in the Olympics and how they battled for the bronze a day later. 

"It's gut-wrenching for our group when you host and you have such a season that we did and you play so hard yesterday," said MacDougall. 

And just like Team Canada, once the puck dropped, both teams' competitive natures took over.

"I thought this group did an amazing job," MacDougall said. 

Close game goes to overtime

The Huskies came out strong, scoring two goals in the opening period to UNB's one. Then, to start the second period, the Huskies got another one on the board to take a 3-1 lead. 

UNB responded later in the period, scoring back-to-back-to-back goals before Saskatchewan scored a goal of their own to make it 4-4. That's how it would stay during the third, sending the game to overtime.

"I think that, despite the fact that I'm not an advocate of a bronze medal game, especially at ten in the morning, I thought that was a pretty good game," Saskatchewan coach Dave Adolph said.

Four minutes into the overtime period, UNB's Alexandre Goulet scored the team's bronze medal goal.

"We wanted to win our last game, it wasn't this game we wanted to play, but at least we achieved that result," said MaMcDougall.