Saturday, July 19, 2014

Nesbitt Signs Pro Contract

The Varsity Reds line-up took another hit yesterday when it was announced that forward Thomas Nesbitt has agreed to a contract with the Elmira Jackals of the ECHL for the upcoming season.

After a productive five year career for the OHL's Ottawa 67's Nesbitt came to UNB before the 2011-2012 season. During his three seasons as a V-Red the Stittsville, Ontario native posted 27 goals and 33 assists in 83 regular season games and 1 goal and 9 assists in 17 playoff games. He was a member of two AUS Championship teams (2012, 2013) and a CIS Championship team (2013).

Nesbitt is the last in a long list of players who have moved on after last season, including captain Chris Culligan (graduation), Nick MacNeil (graduation), Ben Duffy (transferred to Saint Mary's), Cam MacLise (transferred to Mount Royal), Ben Shutron (graduation), Marc-Antoine Desnoyers (graduation), Tim Priamo (graduation), and Shea Kewin (graduation) among others. If anything, it should make for an exciting summer as UNB will be looking to add more new faces than any year in recent memory. 


Monday, June 16, 2014

Shutron Signs ECHL Deal

University of New Brunswick defenceman Ben Shutron has agreed to terms with the ECHL's Orlando Solar Bears, an affiliate for both the Minnesota Wild and Toronto Maple Leafs, the team announced today.

The press release states:
Shutron (6-1, 185 lbs.) was drafted by the Chicago Blackhawks in the fourth round (#95 overall) in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft. He enters his first professional season after skating the last five years (2009-14) for the University of New Brunswick (CIS) where he served as an alternate captain last season. In 101 CIS games, Shutron picked up 56 points on eight goals and 48 assists. He won the CIS University Cup in 2010-11 and was named to the CIS All-Rookie team in 2009-10. Shutron played five seasons (2004-2009) in the OHL for the Kingston Frontenacs and Windsor Spitfires, finishing with 30 goals and 124 assists for 154 points to go along with 353 PIM in 298 games. The Orleans, ON, native helped Windsor capture both the OHL Championship and Memorial Cup Championship in 2008-09, won an OHL Championship with Kingston in 2007-08, and played in the CHL Top Prospects Game in 2005-06.
We wish Ben all the best in his future endeavors.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

AUS Releases 2014-205 Schedule

The AUS has announced the 2014-2015 men's hockey schedule, and it has a bit of a different look than previous years.

The season kicks off on Thursday, October 9th - a week earlier than usual - with only one game on the schedule as the St. Thomas Tommies host the Universite de Moncton Aigles Bleus at the Grant*Harvey Centre. The rest of the league will see their first action on Saturday, October 11th.

Due to the season beginning earlier than usual teams will be playing 16 games in the 1st half and 12 after the Christmas break. This was done to allow for more room in the usually-cramped 2nd half and playoff schedules. The season wraps up on February 7th.

With the St. FX X-Men hosting the 2015 CIS University Cup, which will now include 8 teams, the AUS will have three berths at the tournament. The playoff format will include a best-of-3 quarterfinal round, a best-of 5 semi-finals, and a best-of-3 final. If the X-Men are to advance to the AUS Final, a best-of-3 consolation final will be played to determine the third AUS representative at the University Cup.

Here is how the V-Reds schedule looks:

Saturday, October 11th @ UPEI, 7PM
Friday, October 17th vs. Dalhousie, 7PM
Saturday, October 18th vs. St. FX, 7PM
Wednesday, October 22nd vs. St. Thomas, 7PM
Friday, October 24th @ Acadia, 7PM
Saturday, October 25th @ Saint Mary's, 7PM
Friday, October 31st @ St. FX, 7PM
Saturday, November 1st @ Dalhousie, 7PM
Friday, November 7th @ Moncton, 7PM
Saturday, November 8th vs. UPEI, 7PM
Friday, November 14th vs. Saint Mary's, 7PM
Saturday, November 15th vs. Acadia, 7PM
Friday, November 21st @ Saint Mary's, 7PM
Saturday, November 22nd @ St. FX, 7PM
Wednesday, November 26th @ St. Thomas, 7PM
Friday, November 28th vs. Moncton, 7PM
CHRISTMAS BREAK
Friday, January 9th vs. UPEI, 7PM
Sunday, January 11th @ Moncton, 2PM
Wednesday, January 14th @ St. Thomas, 7PM
Friday, January 16th vs. St. FX, 7PM
Saturday, January 17th vs. Saint Mary's, 7PM
Friday, January 23rd @ Dalhousie, 7PM
Saturday, January 24th @ Acadia, 7PM
Wednesday, January 28th vs. St. Thomas, 7PM
Friday, January 30th vs. Acadia, 7PM
Saturday, January 31st vs. Dalhousie, 7PM
Wednesday, February 4th vs. Moncton, 7PM
Friday, February 6th @ UPEI, 7PM

A few observations:

- UNB will play 9 away games and 7 home games in the 1st half of the season and then 5 away games and 7 home games in the 2nd half. The AUS also went with a 16/12 split for the 2102-2013 season and UNB had the same home and away breakdown before and after Christmas.

- The V-Reds will open the season on the road on Saturday, October 11th against the UPEI Panthers. This is the earliest season opener since 2007-2008, when they began on October 10th.

- This is the 5th time since 2007-2008 UNB will be opening the season against UPEI. They won 4-3 in 2007, lost 4-3 in OT in 2008, won 10-0 in 2009, and lost 4-2 in 2010. All but the 2009 game were played in Charlottetown.

- The V-Reds have won three straight season openers and are 9-4-1 in such games under Gardiner MacDougall.

- UNB will play their home opener the following Friday when they host the Dalhousie Tigers to the AUC, and they will be looking to extend a couple of impressive streaks. The V-Reds have won 25 consecutive home openers (dating back to 1989) as well as 14 straight home games against Dalhousie.

- The first Battle of the Hill takes place on October 22nd at the AUC. The others will be on November 26th and January 14th at the Grant*Harvey Centre and january 28th at the AUC. All UNB/STU games will be played on a Wednesday this year.

- It seems the AUS has blocked home and away games more this year than in recent years. UNB has a stretch of 4 straight home games and two others of 3 straight. They also have a 5 game and 3 game stretch of away games, both in the first half.

- Speaking of that 5 game road stretch, that appears to be the toughest test of the season as they will have to play the perennially strong Acadia Axemen, Saint Mary's Huskies, and St. FX X-Men, the Dalhousie Tigers, and then rival Moncton in a span of just over two weeks.

- By virtue of playing two more road games in the 1st half than the 2nd half, the V-Reds will make both of their visits to Saint Mary's and St. FX before Christmas.

- The AUS has also decided to change up the traditional travel partners in the 1st half of the season. Dalhousie/St. FX and Acadia/Saint Mary's are partners in the 1st half, before going back to the usual Dalhousie/Acadia and St. FX/Saint Mary's pairings after Christmas.

- All games are scheduled for a 7PM start, with the exception of the January 11th game in Moncton which begins at 2PM. UNB has played the odd 2PM game at home over the previous few years, but this is the first time in recent memory they have played one on the road. This is also the only Sunday game on the schedule.

- The final home game of the season will take place on February 4th against Moncton, the only other game besides the Battle of the Hill to take place on a Wednesday. This is the 4th straight year UNB will be hosting Moncton in their home finale.

- The V-Reds are on a 5 game winning streak in home finales.

- Interestingly, after beginning the season in Charlottetown it will also end there as the season finale is scheduled for February 6th against UPEI. It is the first time UNB has book-ended a season against the same opponent since doing it with UdeM in the 2004-2005 season. This will be the first year since 2006-2007 that UNB will end their campaign against UPEI.

- UNB has won 8 straight season finales and are 11-2-1 in such games under MacDougall.

- February 6th is the earliest UNB has wrapped up the regular season since at least the 1974-1975 season.

With help from the ReDSea Database

Monday, June 9, 2014

Familiar Face Named Associate Coach

FREDERICTON, N.B. – UNB Director of Athletics John Richard is pleased to announce the addition of former UNB MVP Rob Hennigar to the coaching staff of the Varsity Reds hockey program as Associate Coach and Hockey Camp Coordinator.
 
"It is my pleasure to announce Rob as our associate coach and hockey camp coordinator," said Richard. "Rob is a superb hockey player and he has worked with our camps as an instructor and as a volunteer coach with our team; we couldn't have asked for a better fit for our program."
 
A two-time CIS All-Canadian and four-time AUS All-Star, Hennigar played a key role in UNB's 2007 National Championship and even bigger role in their 2008 National Silver medal.  The former 2005 AUS rookie of the year, Hennigar also helped lead Team Canada AUS to the gold medal at the 2007 Winter Universiade in Italy, where he tied for the team lead with nine points in six outings, including a pair of goals in a 3-1 gold-medal victory over Russia. In 2008 he was named UNB's MVP for the fourth consecutive time, both the AUS and CIS hockey MVP and became the first male hockey player to win the prestigious BLG award as the CIS Athlete of the Year after leading the nation in scoring in conference play with 58 points (15-43-58) in 27 games. 
 
"I am extremely excited to be returning to the UNB family," said Hennigar.  "Since coming here in 2004 as a player I've always felt that UNB and the City of Fredericton have been unbelievable to me.  With getting this position I have a chance to give back to the program and the City - I couldn't be happier.  This is a dream job for not only me but my wife as well who is a former UNB basketball player and loves UNB.  I look forward to working with Gardiner and helping the program continue to be one of the top programs in the CIS."
 
Hennigar left UNB after a stellar four years when he signed a two-year contract with the NHL's New York Islanders.  He spent his first year with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers (AHL) and the three following years in the AHL and ECHL before heading to Europe. He signed a one year contract in Cortina, Italy in the Series A and helped lead the team to the Coppa Italia Championship. In 2013 he signed a one-year contract with SERC Wild Wings in Germany who lost in the league finals. Despite numerous contract offers, Hennigar stayed in Fredericton this past year to be with his family for the birth of his daughter. He was the MVP of the Newfoundland Senior League and helped his team to the league title.

"We are very fortunate that Rob has decided to retire as a player and join our coaching staff. He will continue the strong UNB tradition of alumni playing a key coaching role in the success of our program. Rob was recruited to UNB as a very good player, continued to grow his game here and left as the best player in the country while also playing a key role in the elevation of our program to National prominence. He has great passion for UNB, has an elite hockey mind and is an excellent communicator and teacher. It is a special opportunity to have a former player as a key part of our staff," were the words of UNB Head coach Gardiner MacDougall.
 
Hennigar will begin his duties immediately and will be a key instructor for the upcoming UNB Pumpernickel Skills and Drill summer program at the Aitken Centre.
 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Foreurs Defenceman Gazzola Commits

In an article highlighting Val-d'Or Foreur defenceman Randy Gazzola Neate Sager of Yahoo! Sports has noted the product of Thorold, Ontario has committed to play for the Varsity Reds this fall. Sager writes:
 "A lot of overages will be mum about playing in university hockey, hoping that a pro job materializes. It might yet for Gazzola. He didn't waste any time lining up a CIS spot, committing to UNB and coach Gardiner MacDougall, who's had a number late bloomers sign pro contracts after finishing a degree...True to form, Gazzola didn't jump for the big shiny thing when deciding which team to join down east, where the Atlantic University Sport league gets prime-time billing. The next two CIS University Cup championships will both be in his old home rink, the Halifax Metro Centre. St. Francis Xavier get the host berth for next season and Saint Mary's will for 2016. To get another chance to win a national championship in your former home arena? That would seem storybook, but Gazzola saw a bigger picture. "Saint Mary’s and St. FX, they both pushed that — 'we’re going to be hosting,' " Gazzola said. "That was a big chip. But when I was talking with Gardiner it just felt right.""
The 6'3", 201 pound defenceman had a career year this past season with 16 goals and 58 assists in 68 games as he helped lead the Foreurs to a QMJHL Championship and a trip to the Memorial Cup. His offensive prowess will provide a big boost to a Varsity Reds team that has lost Tim Priamo, Ben Shutron, and Marc-Antoine Desnoyers to graduation.