Monday, August 15, 2016

V-Reds Stay Local For Recruits

The University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds finally announced their 2016-2017 recruiting class today and it features three players who are all natives of Fredericton and graduates of the V-Reds Prospects Program. Defenceman Matt Murphy and forwards Oliver Cooper and Mark Simpson have all signed Letters of Intent and are expected to suit up for the defending CIS Champion Varsity Reds when the season gets started in September.

Murphy is a 6'2", 196 pound defenceman who enjoyed a stellar five year QMJHL career across four different franchises. He split last season between the Quebec Remparts and Saint John Sea Dogs. posting a career-high 51 points (11 goals, 40 assists) in 68 games. A 2012-2013 Memorial Cup champion with the Halifax Mooseheads, Murphy amassed a total 166 points (34 goals, 132 assists) in 321 regular season games. He added another 33 points (13 goals, 20 assists) in 75 postseason contests.

Cooper also played five seasons in the QMJHL, spending his first three years in Saint John before moving on to the Charlottetown Islanders for his final two seasons. The 6'3", 194 pound centre, who served as the Islanders team captain last year, comes to UNB after putting up 24 goals and 25 assists in 61 games played. His best season came with Saint John in 2013-2014 when he had 57 points (28 goals, 29 assists) in 68 games. For his career the former QMJHL champion had 183 points in 320 regular season games and another 16 points in 31 playoff games.  

Rounding out the class is the 6'5", 187 pound Mark Simpson. Originally born in Fredericton, but now residing in Rothesay, the centre/left winger played four seasons in the QMHJL with Moncton and Acadie-Bathurst. After minimal success with the Wildcats Simpson broke out as a member of the Titan, culminating with a 59 point (20 goals, 39 assists) campaign last year. In 168 career regular season games Simpson put up 124 points (45 goals, 79 assists). He posted 5 points in 11 playoff contests. He was also known for being one of the better face-off men and penalty killers in the league.

While being a rookie in the AUS always comes with an adjustment period, it isn't a stretch to imagine each of these three eventually filling the roles vacated by the three graduating players - defenceman Alex Wall and forwards Tyler Carroll and Taylor MacDougall - and playing a similar style of game. Although there aren't many players who are as smooth skaters as Wall, Murphy appears capable of not only providing solid offense, but also the puck-moving skills from the back-end that Wall was known for. Meanwhile, Cooper is a big body who is strong on the puck and can also score, which sounds a lot like Tyler Carroll. Simpson, on the other hand, "has some of the attributes that Taylor MacDougall brought here, the penalty kill and faceoffs", according to coach Gardiner MacDougall.

Interestingly, the Varsity Reds ended last season with a full roster and have, as far as we know, only lost the aforementioned three graduated players. With these three additions it appears the Varsity Reds will enter the season with the full allotment of 22 skaters, the maximum allowed under the roster cap. This would be a change in philosophy from previous years in which the coaching staff would leave a spot or two open in the event a player becomes available over the Christmas break. If you remember, the V-Reds added Christopher Clapperton and Cam Braes to the roster last season and Dana Fraser the year before that.  

Thursday, July 14, 2016

UNB Adds Exhibition Games

Although no official announcement had been made as of yet, it appears that we know who the Varsity Reds will playing in pre-season action this upcoming fall. The team schedule at the official UNB website has been updated and it includes three new games in addition to the game in Montreal against McGill that had been previously posted on the Redmen's website.

In what has become a recent trend the V-Reds will kick off their exhibition schedule with a game against an AUS opponent when they host the UPEI Panthers on Monday, September 19th against the UPEI Panthers. This will be the 5th time in 6 years the Varsity Reds have played their pre-season opener against a conference foe. It will also mark their first exhibition contest against the Panther since the 2005 Fall Classic.

The V-Reds will then head to Montreal for a date against perennial national contender McGill on Saturday, September 24th. UNB owns a 9-1-0 mark all-time against McGill, including a 6-3 exhibition victory last season.

UNB makes its annual trip down to the United States the following weekend for a pair of games against Hockey East opponents. On Saturday, October 1st they travel to North Andover, Massachusetts to face the Merrimack Warriors for only the second time ever. Merrimack defeated the V-Reds 8-4 in October of 2005 in the only other meeting between the two schools.

The following day UNB will travel to Durham to face the University of New Hampshire Wildcats in an afternoon game. The V-Reds are 1-3-0 all-time against the Wildcats with their lone victory coming in 2007. UNH took the last meeting 3-0 in 2011.

With each AUS team only allowed a maximum of 6 exhibition games this season one would expect that the final two games will be part of the Pete Kelly Classic over Christmas and will be announced at a later date.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Season Ticket Information

The Varsity Reds have released ticket information regarding the upcoming 2016-2017 AUS hockey season, and it is mostly unchanged from previous years.

The main points:

- Season passes are valid for all Varsity Reds home events, including regular season, tournament, exhibition, and AUS playoff games.
- Seating at the Aitken Centre remains reserved, except for sections 9-10-11, which are general admission only.
- Season pass prices are $225 for an adult, $200 for seniors, $75 for non-UNB students (13 years+) with a valid ID, and $50 for K-5 for a hockey reserved seat. 
- Once again, all seats for Elementary School nights will be reserved.
- Previous (2015-2016) season ticket holders must renew their reserved their hockey seats between August 22nd and September 2nd ONLY, at the AUC box office between 11AM-4PM.

- Public sale of season passes begins September 6th at the AUC box office from 11AM-4PM. If you are a first time season pass purchaser and a CAA member, you will receive a $25 discount on your pass. This does not apply to renewals.
- Season tickets cannot be purchased online.
- You can purchase a V-Reds all sport season pass AND a CIS Men's Hockey Championship pass, to be hosted by UNB at the Aitken Centre from March 16th-19th, for $300 for adults or $250 for seniors. This represents a savings of $100.

- Individual game tickets will be $12 for adults, $10 for seniors, $4 for students 13 years+ with a valid ID, and free for UNB students and youth 12 and under.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

V-Reds To Face McGill In Exhibition Action

According to their recently released schedule, the McGill Redmen will host the defending University Cup champion University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds for an exhibition game on Saturday, September 24th. The game will be held at McConnell Arena in Montreal and is scheduled for a 5PM EST puck drop.

This will mark the 2nd time in 4 years UNB has traveled to face the Redmen, having won 7-2 in 2012. Overall, the Varsity Reds are 9-1 against McGill, including 7 consecutive victories. All but three of those games have been held in Fredericton. 

With UNB most likely playing two games against NCAA competition in the pre-season as well as two games over Christmas as part of the annual Pete Kelly Cup this announcement means the V-Reds will only have one more exhibition game due to the new rule of AUS teams only being allowed to play a maximum of 6 exhibition games per season. Hopefully this will be pre-season game at the AUC or we won't get to see the V-Reds in action until the season opener on October 7th.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

AUS Releases 2016-2017 Schedule

The AUS has released the 2016-2017 men's hockey schedule with the 30 game regular season kicking off on Wednesday, October 5th.

We will have a more in-depth look at the V-Reds schedule in the coming weeks, but here are some general highlights:

- The only game on opening night features the UPEI Panthers visiting Moncton.

- UNB will raise their 6th National Championship banner to the rafters in their home - and season - opener on Friday, October 7th against Moncton.

- The V-Reds will play 18 games (9 home, 9 away) before Christmas and 12 (6 home, 6 away) after the break.

- UNB will play every team 5 times. They will get the extra home game against Acadia, Saint Mary's, and UPEI this year while playing an extra road game against St. FX, Dalhousie, and Moncton. It will be reversed next season.

- The season ends on Saturday, February 11th.

- The playoffs remain unchanged with a best-of-three quarterfinals, best-of-five semi-finals, and best-of-three final round.

- The AUS will once again be guaranteed three berths at the University Cup, which will be hosted by UNB from March 16th-19th.

The AUS has also confirmed three important changes that will have an impact on every team moving forward, especially UNB:

- Perhaps the biggest change is that to off-set the longer regular season teams can now only play a maximum of 6 exhibition games. UNB has played more than 6 exhibition games every season since 2003/2004, with many of those years featuring 10+ games.

- All exhibition games must be held either before the season begins or over the Christmas break. Last season UNB played Maine and Harvard in late October during a week off from AUS regular season competition. This will no longer be allowed.

- The first day an exhibition game can be scheduled is fourteen days after Labour Day. This season that will fall on Monday, September 19th. This isn't a huge change as the V-Reds have played their first exhibition game between September 15th and 19th every season since 2007-2008.