X-Men forward Bryson Cianfrone recently wrapped up a two-game series as a member of the U SPORTS all-star team that took on prospects from the Canadian Junior program in their preparations for the upcoming world championship. The games took place in Oakville, Ont. with the juniors winning the first game 4-3 and the U SPORTS all-stars taking the second game 2-1. Cianfrone, a fourth year business student from Stoney Creek, Ont. who currently leads the nation in scoring with 29 points (11 goals, 18 assists) heading into the Christmas break, had one assist in the opening game for the all-stars. He was one of eight AUS athletes selected for the national all-star squad.
Game recaps follow from U SPORTS
2019 U SPORTS All-Star Series:
Bennett's two-point performance not enough as Canada edges U SPORTS All-Stars 4-3
December 11, 2019
OAKVILLE, Ont. (U SPORTS) - Kris Bennett of the UNB Reds notched a power-play goal and an assist in a 4-3 losing effort for the U SPORTS All-Stars against Hockey Canada's World Junior prospects on Wednesday night at the Sixteen Mile Sports Complex.
Bennett redirected a Nikolas Brouillard point shot past Portland Winterhawks goaltender and St. Louis prospect Joel Hofer at the 3:16 mark in the second period to even the game at two. The 2019 University Cup MVP also picked up an assist on a third period, game-tying goal by Stephen Johnson under six minutes into the final frame.
It was third consecutive game-tying goal for the U SPORTS All-Stars, impressing the coaching staff with their series-opening performance.
"There was a lot of resilience to our group. We had a good start, had the lead and we had to fight back three times," said U SPORTS All-Star head coach Gardiner MacDougall of the UNB Reds. "I thought we had a lot of good opportunities there late."
Hofer and Guelph Storm netminder combined to stop 24 of 27 shots for Canada, while Moncton's Olivier Rodrigue and Peterborough's Hunter Jones stopped 17 of 21 while playing for U SPORTS.
In the closely contested battle, Vancouver Giants defenceman and Colorado Avalanche prospect Bowen Byrum scored the game-winner for Canada at 6:52 of the third to put the Canadian side up by a goal.
The tilt was fast-paced from the initial drop of the puck. Mount Royal forward Ryley Lindgren opened the scoring just 52 seconds into the game for the U SPORTS All-Stars, driving the net before shoveling the puck past Hofer. It would end up being U SPORTS' only lead for the rest of the contest.
Ottawa 67's blueliner and Arizona Coyotes prospect Kevin Bahl quickly answered back for Canada, tying the game at one apiece with an unassisted marker at 4:13.
The Canadian Junior prospects claimed their first lead at 6:28, with a tip-in goal by 2020 draft-eligible Dawson Mercer of the QMJHL's Drummondville Voltigeurs.
Later in the period, Saint Mary's defenceman Nick Welsh nearly beat Hofer, but rang two shots off post on the same shift.
With 90 seconds to go in the second period, Tampa Bay Lightning prospect and Kelowna Rockets captain Nolan Foote found the back of the net on the end of a passing play with Quinton Byfield and Braden Schneider, putting Team Canada up 3-2.
Then just under six minutes into the third, Johnson knotted the game again at three.
Moments later, Byram relied replied with the game winner, bringing the sold-out crowd at Sixteen Mile Sports Complex to their feet.
MacDougall believes he has a team that can both be competitive for Team Canada and showcase the talent Canadian university hockey offers.
"It's a double purpose, we want to be the best we can and represent the U SPORTS name," said MacDougall. "On the other side you want to provide a real good opponent for our World Juniors."
2019 U SPORTS All-Star Series
Game 2: First-period goals, defensive performance earns U SPORTS 2-1 victory and series split
December 12, 2019
Ryerson forward Mathew Santos and Alberta forward Trevor Cox scored just under four minutes apart in the first period to lead the U SPORTS All-Stars to a 2-1 victory over Hockey Canada's World Junior prospects on Thursday afternoon at the Sixteen Mile Sports Complex.
The win earned U SPORTS a split with Team Canada to close out the Sport Chek World Junior Selection Camp, improving their record to 6-4-1 since a national all-star team began participating in 2015.
Portland Winterhawks goaltender and St. Louis Blues prospect Joel Hofer and Guelph Storm netminder Nico Daws combined to stop 11 of 12 shots playing for U SPORTS. Moncton Wildcats netminder and Edmonton Oilers prospect Olivier Rodrigue along with Peterborough Pets stopper and Minnesota Wild prospect Hunter Jones turned asides 20 of 22 shots in goal for Canada.
Santos opened up the scoring for the U SPORTS All-Stars at 6:45 in the opening frame on the power play with a powerful slap shot from the point. McGill defenceman Nikolas Brouillard and UNB forward Tyler Boland picked up assists.
Just past the midway point of the frame, Cox took advantage of a neutral zone turnover by shoveling a pass from Saint Mary's forward Stephen Johnson past Jones.
Boston College forward and Colorado Avalanche prospect Alex Newhook answered back for Canada 41 seconds later, bringing the game to within one.
For the remaining two periods, U SPORTS limited Canada offensively holding them without a shot for 13 minutes in the middle frame.
Draft eligible forward Dawson Mercer of the Drummondville Voltigeurs nearly equalized for Canada with less than three minutes to go in the second, ringing a shot of the post. But Canada was unable to get any closer.
Team Canada will finalize its roster before taking to the ice at 2020 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship in the Czech Republic from Dec. 26-Jan. 5, while the U SPORTS regular season resumes with CW, OUA and AUS action from Jan. 2-4
The 2019 U SPORTS University Cup will be held Mar. 12-15 at the Scotiabank Centre in Halifax.