“It didn’t feel safe": University of Alberta hockey team refuses handshakes

Mar 20 2023, 8:32 pm

The University of Alberta Golden Bears aren’t U SPORTS hockey champions, but they stole the show at the national championship tournament in PEI.

While the University of New Brunswick Reds defeated Alberta 3-0 in the final, the game’s final moments featured the Charlottetown fans chanting, “will they shake hands,” towards the Golden Bears.

Alberta skipped the traditional handshake line in the semi-final after a violent third period against the UPEI Panthers when Panthers forward Zac Beauregard skated into Alberta goaltender Ethan Kruger with 12 minutes left in the third, as PEI trailed 3-0.

In quick retaliation, Kruger grabbed Beauregard’s legs before the UPEI forward threw a sucker punch into Kruger’s face, causing tempers to boil over.

Kruger was forced to leave the game due to concussion protocol, replaced by former Edmonton Oiler Matt Berlin, while Beauregard picked up a 10-minute game misconduct, bringing PEI’s penalty total to 48 minutes in the game.

“[He] hits him blindside of the head. That [kind of] game happened in the ’80s,” Alberta head coach Ian Herbers said. “That shouldn’t be happening in today’s game; it just ruins the game of hockey.”

Fans threw bottles on the ice, jeered the Alberta players, and an assistant coach of the Golden Bears flipped the bird at the crowd of nearly 4,000.

“It didn’t feel safe for the players. I thought something else would happen, then get into a bigger incident and create bigger havoc, and then a big black eye for [U SPORTS],” Herbers said. “I didn’t want that opportunity to happen.”

Alberta went on to win the semi-final 4-1, putting a disappointing end to UPEI’s cinderella run as the eighth seed that beat the top-seeded Calgary Dinos in the opening round. Yet, UPEI head coach Forbes MacPherson defended his player’s actions in the scrum.

“Zac’s a small guy, and he plays very fast and very hard,” he said. “He was making a strong play to the net to try to score a goal at the time. The fact is, Zac, weighs 146 pounds, and he’s right-handed. And he hit the goalie with his left hand open-handed. So I mean, you tell me.”

While UNB claimed the U SPORTS title against Alberta in a penalty-less final, PEI went on to lose the bronze medal game to the University of Quebec Trois Riviers Patriotes on Sunday, but the semi-final emotions still were evident as their season officially ended.

“It’s kind of classless, like yea, it was a rough game, but I mean, it’s hockey,” first-year PEI forward Kaleb Pearson said. “Some of the plays, they shouldn’t happen, but come on, at least you can shake our hands.”

Ben SteinerBen Steiner

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