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U SPORTS – ALMATY, Kazakhstan (U SPORTS) – Canada claimed its third medal of the 28th Winter Universiade on Wednesday thanks to a third-place finish in men’s hockey on the 12th and final day of competition at the biennial FISU Games.

Team Canada website: http://en.usports.ca/universiade/winter/2017/ 

Almaty 2017 website: https://almaty2017.com

Live streaming: www.livefisu.tv/  

Results, Statistics & Standings: http://www.fisu.net/results/winter-universiade/winter-universiade-2017-main-results

The red and white contingent concludes the Almaty Games with three medals, one of each colour. In addition to the men’s hockey bronze, skip Kelsey Rocque and her University of Alberta foursome captured gold in women’s curling, while a team of U SPORTS all-stars merited silver in women’s hockey.

Rocque was Canada’s flagbearer at the opening ceremonies on Jan. 29.

“I couldn’t be prouder of the way our entire delegation represented Canada in Almaty,” said chef de mission Ari Grossman from the University of Waterloo. “Our student-athletes, coaches and support staff return home with memories that will last them a lifetime. On behalf of Team Canada, I wish to extend our sincere appreciation to FISU and the Almaty organizing committee for this memorable Universiade.”

Russia dominated the Games with an impressive 71 podium finishes (29-27-15), including 29 of the 85 gold medals up for grabs. Host Kazakhstan ended up second in the medal count with 36 (11-8-17), followed by Japan (6-12-10), South Korea (11-5-5) and Poland (5-2-5). 

The closing ceremonies are set for 7 p.m. local (8 a.m. EST) at Almaty Arena, live on www.livefisu.tv/

The 2019 Winter Universiade will be held in Krasnoyarsk, Russia.

Canada was also in action in cross-country skiing on Wednesday with five representatives in the men’s 30-kilometre mass start classic.

William Dumas of Gatineau, Que., was the top Canuck in 34th position (1:30:26.6). He was followed at the finish line by Conor Thompson of Montreal in 38th place (1:31:02.8), Alexis Morin of Victoriaville, Que., in 40th (1:31:43.5), Carrington Pomeroy of Chelsea, Que., in 42nd (1:33:24.6) and Gavin Shields of Thunder Bay, Ont., in 43rd (1:34:10.8).

In men’s hockey, Team Canada extended its remarkable success streak at the Universiade, capturing its 15th medal in 16 FISU tournament appearances thanks to a thrilling 4-3 bronze-medal win over the Czech Republic at Halyk Arena.

Since its first appearance at the biennial competition in 1968, Canada has racked up four FISU titles, a trio of silver medals and eight third-place finishes. 

Less than 24 hours after a heartbreaking 4-1 loss to Russia in the semifinal round, the Ontario University Athletics all-stars (5-1) rebounded with a gutsy effort to edge a talented Czech team (3-3) that dropped a 4-1 decision to host Kazakhstan on Tuesday night. 

“The message I had for the guys before the game was there’s no way we were going home without a medal. That’s a lot of pressure,” said Canadian head coach Brett Gibson from Queen’s University. “These guys, what they’ve done for me and our coaching staff these past two weeks…  I’ll never forget it. I’m going to remember it for the rest of my life.

“There sure were some tired legs out there at the end. It’s just amazing what the guys accomplished. In tournament hockey it’s a quick turnaround between games. They dug deep and the Canadian pride came out there at the end.”

Team captain Olivier Hinse was equally proud of the way the team responded after Tuesday’s disappointing loss.

“We worked so hard to get that medal. It’s unfortunate we couldn’t play for gold but the guys came back strong,” said the Concordia University forward from Sherbrooke, Que. “It was a great game. We played within our system, we played the Canadian way. There was no way they could beat us today. We went all out. Hats off to all of our guys, they played so hard. We all stick together, we’re a brotherhood, and that’s why we got the bronze medal today.”

Following the loss to Russia, Gibson decided to reunite teammates from the University of Quebec at Trois-Rivières and from Carleton University on two lines, and the move paid off.

The UQTR trio of Pierre-Olivier Morin (1-2-3), Tommy Giroux (2-0-2) and Guillaume Asselin (0-1-1) produced three goals and six points, while Brett Welychka had the other Canadian marker assisted by his Carleton teammates Michael McNamee and Ryan Van Stralen. McNamee also added a second helper for a two-point afternoon.   

“We did that on purpose,” said Gibson. “After the loss last night we had to juggle some things. These guys have chemistry together and we wanted them to have some fun with it. They were excited to play for Canada together.”

Giroux and Morin – with his team-leading sixth goal in six games – scored in the first 3:28 of the contest to give Canada a quick 2-0 lead. Giroux would add the eventual game-winner 3:41 into the middle frame.

“It’s important for me to score big goals in big moments. It’s my role to score goals and to produce offensively. But we also saw a lot of players sacrifice themselves and block shots at the end of the game. It’s just as important as scoring goals in this kind of game,” said Giroux, who finished the tournament with three goals and seven points. “Gibby came to see us before the game. He showed us the starting lineup and he said ‘does this look familiar?’ It was good, maybe we needed a little change and everyone was happy with that. I think it paid off today.”

Gibson made another important move midway through the bronze game when he pulled starting goaltender Kevin Bailie – who plays for him at Queen’s – after the Czechs made it 4-3 at 8:52 of the second period. Backup Sébastien Auger from UQTR was perfect on 16 shots the rest of the way.

“Sébastien is a pro. He’s a winner,” said Gibson. “I told him to stay ready the whole tournament. He didn’t pout. He just came in today and probably won the game for us.”

“I didn’t expect to go in. Throughout the tournament, I kept myself ready. It was my job to come in for Kevin if needed. I prepared myself like I was going to play every game and when they called my number, I was ready,” said Auger, whose only previous action in Almaty was a complete-game shutout against Great Britain on Feb. 1. “Of course there are some nerves when you jump into a bronze medal with the score 4-3. But I got an easy shot right away and it put me in the game quickly. That’s why we play hockey, for games like this one. I like pressure, and today we got our money’s worth.”

Canada led 3-1 after 20 minutes and 4-3 after two periods, before hanging on for dear life in the third. The Czech Republic finished with a 34-30 edge in shots on goal, including an 11-4 advantage in the final stanza. 

RESULTS FROM WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 8

CROSS COUNTRY SKIING

Men’s 30 km Mass Start Classic

1. Dmitriy Rostovtsev, Russia, 1:19:37.5; 2. Valeriy Gontar, Russia, 1:19:37.8; 3. Sergey Malyshev, Kazakhstan, 1:19:38.0; 34. William Dumas, Gatineau, Que., 1:30:26.6; 38. Conor Thompson, Montreal, Que., 1:31:02.8; 40. Alexis Morin, Victoriaville, Que., 1:31:43.5; 42. Carrington Pomeroy, Chelsea, Que., 1:33:24.6; 43. Gavin Shields, Thunder Bay, Ont., 1:34:10.8. 

MEN’S HOCKEY

Canada (5-1) wins 4-3 vs. Czech Republic (3-3) in bronze-medal game, claims 15th medal in 16 Universiade men’s hockey tournaments (4-3-8).

About the Winter Universiade

The Winter Universiade is a biennial international multi-sport event open to competitors who are at least 17 and less than 28 years of age as of January 1 in the year of the Games. Participants must be full-time students at a post-secondary institution (university, college, CEGEP) or have graduated from a post-secondary institution in the year preceding the event.

The Almaty Universiade will feature eight compulsory sports and four optional sports. Compulsory sports: alpine skiing, biathlon, ice hockey, curling, cross country skiing, short track speed skating, figure skating and snowboarding. Optional sports: ski jumping, nordic combined, freestyle skiing and long-track speed skating.

About U SPORTS

U SPORTS is the national brand for University Sports in Canada. Every year, over 12,000 student-athletes and 500 coaches from 56 universities vie for 21 national championships in 12 different sports. U SPORTS also provides higher performance international opportunities for Canadian student-athletes at Winter and Summer Universiades, as well as numerous world university championships. For further information, visit usports.ca or follow us on:

Twitter: @USPORTSca / @USPORTSIntl 

Facebook: @USPORTSCanada / @USPORTSIntl 

YouTube: @USPORTSca 

Instagram: @USPORTSca 

Snapchat: @USPORTSca

-U SPORTS-

For more information:

Michel Bélanger

Communications Manager

Team Canada

Cell in Almaty: (+) 774 7619 2403

belanger@usports.ca

Ken Saint-Eloy

Manager, Communications

U SPORTS

Cell: 647-871-7595

ksainteloy@usports.ca