Thursday, March 12, 2020

University Cup Cancelled

It is being reported that due to increasing COVID-19 concerns, the remainder of the 2020 University Cup has been cancelled. Here is the official statement from U Sports:

This is obviously very disappointing news for the Reds and their fans as UNB was the odds on favourites to repeat as champions, especially after the #2 seeded Saskatchewan Huskies were upset on Thursday afternoon. The Reds sent out a couple of tweets in wake of the news:

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

U Sports Hands Out Hardware

The annual U Sports All-Canadian gala was held tonight in Halifax and a pair of Reds players were honoured.

Forward Tyler Boland was named a first team all-star while goaltender Samuel Harvey was named to the all-rookie team.

Here is the complete list of honourees:

Player of the Year (Senator Joseph A. Sullivan Trophy): G Taran Kozun, Saskatchewan
Goaltender of the Year: G Taran Kozun, Saskatchewan
Rookie of the Year (Clare Drake Award): F Mitchell Balmas, Saint Mary's
Defenceman of the Year: D Nikolas Brouillard, McGill
Most Sportsmanlike Player (R.W. Pugh Fair Play Award): F Levi Cable, Saskatchewan
Student-Athlete Community Service Award (Dr. Randy Gregg Award): Liam Maaskant, Acadia
Coach of the Year (Father George Kehoe Memorial Award): Ryan Medel, Toronto

First Team All-Stars
G - Taran Kozun, Saskatchewan
D - Nick Welsh, Saint Mary's
D - Nikolas Brouillard, McGill
F - David Thomson, Toronto
F - Tyler Boland, UNB
F - Grayson Pawlenchuk, Alberta

Second Team All-Stars
G - Logan Flodell, Acadia
D - Owen Headrick, UPEI
D - Adam Henry, Manitoba
F - Mitchell Balmas, Saint Mary's
F - Chris Paquette, RMC
F - Matt Alfaro, Calgary

All-Rookie Team
G - Samuel Harvey, UNB
D - Dawson Davidson, Alberta
D - Jordan Sambrook, Brock
F - Mitchell Balmas, Saint Mary's
F - Chris Paquette, RMC
F - Jared Dmytriw, Saskatchewan

The 2020 University Cup gets underway tomorrow with games at 2PM (Saskatchewan vs. Western) and 7PM (Saint Mary's vs. Guelph). If you can't make it to Halifax, you watch the entire tournament online here.

Monday, March 9, 2020

UNB vs. UBC: Preview, Prediction, Poll

If someone had said at the beginning of the season that the University of New Brunswick Reds would open the 2020 University Cup against the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds, you probably would have thought they were crazy.

But here we are.

The two teams will meet for the first time ever at 2PM on Friday afternoon in the third of four quarter-final match-ups. For the #1 ranked Reds, this is old hat of course. This will be their 12th appearance at the national tournament in the last 14 seasons with seven of those ending with a championship. But for the 8th seeded Thunderbirds, this marks their first trip to nationals in 42 years.

UBC struggled through an inconsistent regular season. They were winless through their first five games (0-3-2) and were 4-9-3 at the Christmas break. They would eventually fall to 4-11-5 before winning five out of their last eight games to finish 9-14-5, which was good enough for 5th place in the Canada West conference and a quarter-final match-up against the Mount Royal Cougars, a team that finished 15 points ahead of them in the standings. UBC would take the first game 4-2 before falling 5-3 in the second contest to send the series to a winner-take-all game three, where perhaps the turning point for the Thunderbirds season came. They held a 4-1 lead late in the 2nd period only to see the Cougars storm back to tie the game with two seconds remaining in regulation. With all of the momentum in their favour, it would not have come as any surprise if the Cougars completed the comeback. The T-Birds had other ideas though as Austin Vetterl scored 12:52 into overtime to send UBC to the Canada West semi-finals for the first time since 2007.

Waiting for them were the top ranked 23-5-0 Alberta Golden Bears, who had enjoyed a first round playoff bye. Even after the Thunderbirds shocked the Bears with a 3-2 overtime win in game one, many did not give UBC a chance at finishing the job, largely due to the fact they were out-shot 53-17 in the game. It seemed the pundits would be correct after Alberta walloped UBC 6-1 in the second game to even the series. However, the T-Birds once again had other plans and, in the process, turned the U Sports hockey world on its head. In one of the biggest upsets in recent memory, UBC stunned the Bears with a 2-1 victory, despite being out-shot 41-19, in the deciding game. The win locked up a University Cup berth and sent the Thunderbirds to the Canada West championship in search of their first conference crown since 1978.

Unfortunately, the magic ran out in Saskatoon against the #2 ranked Saskatchewan Huskies (22-4-2). Although they played the Huskies tough, UBC were swept by scores of 3-2 and 3-1.

On the season the Thunderbirds were one of the most offensively-challenged teams in the country, ranking 32nd (out of 35 teams) with only 2.57 goals per game and 26th with 30.5 shots per game. They rely heavily on their power play, which posted a respectable 21.7% success rate, good for 9th best in the nation. However, they will be in tough against a Reds team that led the country in goals against average (1.86) and shots allowed per game (20.7) and were 5th best at killing penalties (86.8%). Additionally, Samuel Harvey and Rylan Parenteau combined for a 0.910 save percentage, which ranked 10th in the nation.

Individually, UBC is led by forwards Tyler Sandhu (12 goals, 23 points), Austin Vetterl (19 points), Jake Kryski (18), and Carter Popoff (16). Jerret Smith (15) was their only defenceman to crack double digits in points. Overall, the T-Birds only had nine players notch at least ten points. By comparison, UNB had two 40 point scorers, seven 30 points scorers, and 11 20 point scorers.

Defensively, the Thunderbirds ranked 18th in the country with a 2.99 GAA and 26th with a 0.892 save percentage. They did feature an above average penalty kill, coming in at 14th overall with an 82.5 success rate and were one of the better teams at limiting shots on goal, only giving up 28 per game. Rylan Toth is their go-to-guy between the pipes as he played in 23 out of their 28 regular season games, putting up a 2.78 GAA and 0.902 save percentage in a conference-leading 1379 minutes. Of course, they will be trying to contain a UNB offense that paced the country in most categories, including goals per game (5.33), shots per game (41.7), and power play goals (47). The Reds also placed second in power play percentage (30.5%) and shorthanded goals (8), proving that you can't take a break against their line-up, even when you are up a man.

PREDICTION: Any team that goes into Clare Drake Arena in Edmonton and knocks off the Golden Bears deserves to be taken seriously. Rylan Toth showed that he can steal a series, let alone a single game - and the T-Birds played two close games against a very good Saskatchewan team in the CW Final - so nothing is guaranteed. Having said that, he will likely need to turn in another all-world performance to give the Thunderbirds a chance in this game. I know we seem to say this every year, but the Reds depth and skill will prove to be too much over 60 minutes for an inexperienced UBC squad. Ultimately, while Toth and the T-Birds keep it close for awhile, UNB pulls away for a comfortable victory to move on to semi-final Saturday.

POLL: Who do you got?

Who wins?

UNB in a close one (1 or 2 goals)
UNB in a blowout (3+ goals)
Created with QuizMaker

UNB At The University Cup

The University of New Brunswick Reds are scheduled to head to Halifax, Nova Scotia Tuesday for the 2020 University Cup. The 58th edition of the event begins on Thursday afternoon and wraps up with the Gold Medal game on Sunday night.

This will be their 19th appearance all-time at the tournament, including their 17th in the last 24 years, and 14th in 20 seasons under head coach Gardiner MacDougall.

Here is how they have made out at the previous 18 tournaments:

1964 (Kingston): 1-1 (Lost in semi-final)
1984 (Fredericton): 0-2 (Lost in Atlantic regional)
1997 (Toronto): 1-1 (Lost in final)
1998 (Saskatoon): 3-0 (Won championship)
2000 (Saskatoon): 2-1 (Lost in final)
2003 (Fredericton): 1-2 (Lost in semi-final + bronze medal game)
2004 (Fredericton): 2-1 (Lost in final)
2007 (Moncton): 3-0 (Won championship)
2008 (Moncton): 2-1 (Lost in final)
2009 (Thunder Bay): 3-0 (Won championship)
2011 (Fredericton): 3-0 (Won championship)
2012 (Fredericton): 1-1 (Lost in semi-final)
2013 (Saskatoon): 3-0 (Won championship)
2015 (Halifax): 2-1 (Lost in final)
2016 (Halifax): 3-0 (Won championship)
2017 (Fredericton): 3-0 (Won championship)
2018 (Fredericton): 2-1 (Lost in semi-final, Won bronze medal game)
2019 (Lethbridge): 3-0 (Won championship)

Some notes of interest:

- The Varsity Reds 8 championships rank 3rd to Alberta (16) and Toronto (10).

- Their 13 appearances in the championship game is tied with Toronto for second most all-time. Only Alberta (22) have appeared in more.

- Their 5 championship game losses are tied with Saint Mary's for 2nd most all-time. Both Alberta and Saskatchewan hold the dubious distinction of losing 6 championship games.

- The V-Reds have won 7 titles and appeared in 9 title games in the last 13 years.

- They have reached the gold medal game in 13 out of their last 16 appearances at the tournament.

- Interestingly, the three times they failed to reach the final, the tournament was held in Fredericton. The last ten times they have had to travel to the University Cup, the Reds have played in the championship game.

- UNB have won their opening game at the tournament in each of their previous 16 appearances.

- The Reds will be playing in their 6th straight tournament for the first time in school history.

- With three titles in the last four seasons, seniors Stephen Anderson and Marcus McIvor will looking to become the first UNB players to win four championships.

-  The Reds have played in a medal game in each of their previous six appearances at the tournament.

- UNB is 38-12 all-time at the University Cup, which equates to a 0.760 winning percentage. They are 31-7 (0.816) under Gardiner MacDougall.

- This includes 28 wins in their last 32 games.

- In the 50 games they have played at the University Cup, UNB have have out-scored the opposition 208-121 for an average of 4.16 goals per game and 2.42 goals against per game.

- UNB has recorded 7 shut-outs at the University Cup. They have never been shut-out.

- They are 7-3 all-time in games decided in overtime.

- In their previous two appearances at the University Cup in Halifax they won a silver medal (2015) and gold meda (2016).

- The Reds have never played a University Cup game against UBC. Their all-time University Cup record against the other participating schools is 6-0 against Saskatchewan, 4-1 against Western, 2-0 against Acadia, 2-0 against Saint Mary's, 1-1 against Guelph, and 1-0 against Ottawa. 

- Next season the University Cup will head to Charlottetown, PEI.

Harvey Takes Weekly Award

Goaltender Samuel Harvey has been named the UNB Reds/Papa John's Pizza male Athlete of the Week after backstopping the Reds to a 3rd consecutive AUS championship this past week.

The freshman followed up an impressive rookie season with an even better playoff, going 4-1 with a 1.21 GAA and a 0.946 save percentage on route to being named MVP. He was especially brilliant during the most important games of the year as he gave up only three goals on 73 shots during the three game series victory over the Acadia Axemen.

After winning a Memorial Cup as a member of the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies at the Scotiabank Centre last season, Harvey will look to replicate that feat this weekend as the Reds head to Halifax for the University Cup. They open the tournament at 2PM on Friday afternoon against the UBC Thunderbirds.