ST. CATHARINES, Ont. (U SPORTS) – Alberta Golden Bears forward Luke Philp scored early in the first period, and the U SPORTS All-Stars shut out Team Canada's World Junior prospects 3-0 at the Meridian Centre Wednesday, in a tight opening game of the 2017 U SPORTS All-Star series.
"The goal coming into this was to put together a team that could compete and skate and play with pace," said U SPORTS head coach Brad Peddle, who was an assistant with year's squad and serves as the bench boss of the StFX X-Men. "Our guys dug in and weathered the storm and did what it takes to win a real tight game – doing things that you see guys do in the playoffs typically…You could tell they wanted to win."
Philp opened the scoring with a power-play goal just 2:44 in, snapping a wrist shot past Vancouver Canucks prospect Michael DiPietro (Windsor, OHL) for a 1-0 lead. It was a special goal for the second year forward, who celebrated the tally with fellow Golden Bears teammates Jason Fram and Cole Sanford, who picked up the assists.
"We had a little room (on the man advantage)," said Philp of the team's quick start. "The puck hit me there and I tried to get it off quick and it went in. It was good plays by (Fram and Sanford) and it was nice to get the first one off early."
The one-goal lead held up throughout the contest, before StFX's Michael Clarke and Saskatchewan's Logan McVeigh added a pair of empty-netters in the final 1:15 to seal the victory.
Team Canada's Colton Point and returning player Carter Hart combined for 32 saves in the U SPORTS net, recording the first the first shutout by U SPORTS competition in 32 meetings against Team Canada since 1988. The win was also the first in regulation for the U SPORTS side since the switch to the national all-star team format in 2015, when they came away with a 5-4 shootout victory in Toronto.
"It's a great step," added Paddle. "We have to recognize that they're going to be very good again tomorrow. For us right now, the guys can enjoy the win for a little bit…but then it's time to get some rest and go again."
The two teams will meet again on Thursday to wrap up the U SPORTS All-Star Series, with puck drop set for 4:00 p.m. ET/1:00 p.m. PT.