Blazers Win Men’s CPAC Hockey Championship
Forward Derek Bergen Chosen Tournament
By Paul Crosby
March may have come in like a lamb in Landmark, Man. but there was a storm
brewing inside the arena last weekend as the CMU Blazers and the Providence
College Freemen took to the ice for the Central Plains Athletic Association
(CPAC) men’s hockey final.
The game was won 4-3 by CMU over the upset-minded Freemen, but the outcome
was anything but certain—right up until the final buzzer.
The Freemen came out flying, putting CMU back on its heels. CMU’s sloppy play
resulted in a short-handed goal five minutes in, giving the Freemen the early
lead. The Blazers tied the game on a power play goal by League MVP Marty
Siemens. Shortly afterwards, a disallowed goal by the Freemen seemed to spark
the Blazers, and the momentum of the game slowly began to shift.
Through the first two periods the Freemen fed off the energy of their hot
goalie, who made several brilliant saves to keep the score tied 1-1. At the
buzzer, with the Blazers already a man short, Marty Siemens was given roughing
and misconduct penalties, which meant that CMU would play the first 12 minutes
of the third period without their best player. The tension and apprehension was
building in the arena as the players headed to their dressing rooms at the end
of the second period.
As the third period started, it looked like Providence was well set with its
two-man advantage. But in such closely contested games it is often intangibles
that make the difference; in this case it was the boisterous CMU fans, who came
armed with all kinds of noise-making apparatus. Providence’s fans were also
cheering, but they were easily drowned out by the exuberant gang from CMU—who
outnumbered them three to one.
The Blazers survived the early disadvantage and, shortly afterward, went
ahead for the first time in the game when Derek Bergen roofed a great wrist shot
from the right face off circle on a delayed penalty call against Providence. But
as CMU stepped up its checking, the penalties started piling up. At 10:22
Providence tied the game, but the Blazers pulled ahead again at the 13:20 mark
on another beautiful wrist shot by Bergen.
It looked as though the Blazers had finally gained control, especially when a
frustrated Providence team took a couple of late penalties that resulted in a
two-goal cushion when Mike Suderman stole the puck and fired the puck into the
top right corner of the net. With everybody jumping and yelling and screaming,
it seemed as though the game was won. But the Freemen pulled their goalie,
throwing everything they had at the Blazers, scored on a breakaway with ten
seconds left. On the ensuing face off, the Freemen stormed the Blazers’ net, but
CMU held on to the victory and the championship.
It was fitting that a workhorse player like Derek Bergen of Kleefeld, Man.
would be awarded the tournament’s most valuable player. Of the team’s
performance, he says “I think all the boys worked hard out there, and we
deserved to win the game.”
Other award winners from CMU were Marty Siemens of Oak Bluff, Man., who was
named the League MVP, and Luke Klassen of Winkler, Man. and Mike Friesen of
Springstein, Man., who were named to the Conference All-Star team.
This was a big win in many ways for CMU. It was a boost to the team itself,
which was not really expected to be in the final after a shaky start to the
season. Through committed coaching and hard work, they went on a late season
tear, finishing first and earning a bye to the finals.
But it was also a boost to the university’s athletic program. “I think
winning a championship, and getting better every year, is going to bring in
recruits and draw people to the program because they can see what we can do for
our athletes,” says Athletic Director Christa Enns.
This is the second CPAC championship for CMU; in February the women’s
volleyball team won CPAC women’s volleyball championship.
The Central Plains Athletic Association is comprised of nine universities and
colleges in Manitoba and Minnesota: Canadian Mennonite University; Assiniboine
Community College; Booth College; Brandon University; College Universitaire de
St. Boniface; Oak Hills Christian College; Providence College; Red River
College; and Steinbach Bible College.
Posted March 3, 2008. Revised March 4, 2008.
For more information contact the CMU Communications Director, 500 Shaftesbury Blvd., Winnipeg, Manitoba R3P 2N2, telephone: 204-487-3300 ext. 630, fax: 204-889-1694,(www.cmu.ca)