Monday, July 2, 2018

Exhibition Schedule Features Familiar, Different Opponents

The Varsity Reds have announced their 6 game exhibition slate for the 2018-2019 season and, once again, it features some top quality opposition.

The first games of the new season take place at the AUC on Friday, September 14th at 7PM and Saturday, September 15th at 3PM against the reigning OUA Champion McGill Redmen. The V-Reds and Redmen have gotten to know each other quite well in recent years with 7 match-ups since 2009 - all UNB victories, including a 4-0 win in the 2011 National Championship game. Their last meeting was a 1-0 affair in Montreal in the fall of 2016. UNB is 11-1-0 all-time against the Redmen.

The next weekend the V-Reds will travel to Toronto for a two game set versus the Ryerson Rams, returning the favour after the Rams visited Fredericton last winter for the Pete Kelly Cup. UNB won both games last Christmas - the first two meetings between the schools - by 6-5 (OT) and 8-2 scores. The games will take place on Friday, September 21st (8:15PM) and Saturday, September 22nd (5:15PM) at the Mattamy Athletic Centre, formerly Maple Leaf Garden.

After a weekend of AUS regular season play, the Varsity Reds travel south of the border to face perennial NCAA powerhouse Boston College on Saturday, October 6th at 8PM. This will be the 10th all-time game between the two teams with the Eagles holding a 6-2-1 all-time record, including a 4-2 victory last fall. UNB's two wins came in 2015 (5-2 in Boston) and 2009 (5-3 at the AUC).

The Pete Kelly Cup this season will only feature one game, but it will be against a team the Varsity Reds have never faced in the Lethbridge Pronghorns. The game will take place at the AUC on Saturday, December 28th at 7PM. Lethbridge will no doubt be using this game as a measuring stick as they prepare to host the 2019 University Cup March 14th-17th.

Friday, June 15, 2018

McEwan Is Newest V-Red

UPDATE - Mark Malone of the Chatham Daily News has a great article on McEwan here.

Forward James McEwan of the Ontario Hockey League's Guelph Storm is the latest addition to the AUS Champion University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds, the team announced today. Although the V-Reds have typically waited until late in the summer to announce their recruits, McEwan already becomes the 5th player they have announced for next year, joining forwards Patrick Watling, Mark Rassell, and Matthew Boucher and defenceman Joe Gatenby. 

The 5'11", 194 pound McEwan spent his entire five year junior career with Guelph, the majority of which came as the Storm were rebuilding after a 2014 Memorial Cup run came up one game short.

Unlike UNB's other recruits, McEwan actually saw his numbers dip throughout his junior career. After posting a career high 52 points (25 goals, 27 assists) in 68 games in 2015-2016 and earning team MVP honours in the process, the native of Chatham, Ontario proceeded to put up seasons of 39 points (19 goals, 20 assists) in 58 games in 2016-2017 and 35 points (13 goals, 22 assists) in 64 games this past season. For his career he collected 136 points in 236 games.

However, it appears the numbers don't tell the whole story with McEwan, who has participated in a pair of NHL training camps, first with the Pittsburgh Penguins and then last year with the Montreal Canadiens. He is known for his leadership, popularity, compete level, and for possessing a good shot and high hockey IQ. Furthermore, according to head coach Gardiner MacDougall, McEwan has "excellent speed and is a strong two-way player who can play multiple positions and roles" and has attributes that indicate "an excellent upside and growth to his game."

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Boucher Joins V-Reds

What has already been a strong recruiting summer has gotten even better for the Varsity Reds as they have announced Quebec Remparts captain Matthew Boucher has signed a U Sports Letter of Intent with the team.

The 5'9", 174 pound Boucher just completed an exceptional junior hockey career in which he amassed 192 points (96 goals, 96 assists) in 241 regular season games. He had a career high 31 goals and 38 assists in 66 games this past season and averaged exactly a point per game (176 points in 176 games) during the three years he spent with the Remparts, the last two of which he served as team captain.

Boucher, who was born in Los Angeles, should provide some versatility to the forward ranks as he is able to play all three forward positions and can contribute at both ends of the ice. Despite his size, he is also not afraid to get involved physically as evident by his 307 career PIM.

He is the son of former NHL defenceman Philippe Boucher, a veteran of 16 NHL seasons.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

V-Reds Add Pair From WHL

The defending AUS Champion University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds have gone out west for their first two recruits of the summer and they are big ones, announcing top recruits Mark Rassell and Joe Gatenby have signed Letters of Intent for the upcoming 2018-2019 season. They should both prove to be solid additions to what will no doubt be an impressive group of returning players.

A native of Calgary, Alberta, Rassell comes to UNB after spending his entire four year WHL career with the Medicine Hat Tigers, serving as the team captain last season.

The 6'1", 185 pound centre improved in each of his junior seasons, culminating in a breakout 50 goal, 30 assist campaign this past season. He added 8 goals and 5 assists in just 6 playoff contests. For his efforts he was named co-team MVP and earned awards for his community service and leadership.

Overall, Rassell accumulated regular season totals of 103 goals and 78 assists in 274 games and chipped in another 15 goals and 5 assists in 23 postseason games.

Rassell is no stranger to UNB as his grandfather attended the school and both of his parents earned their Masters degree at UNBSJ.

For more information on the V-Reds newest forward, Ryan McCracken had a nice article in the Medicine Hat News today where he talks with Rassell about his future and his decision to choose UNB.

Defenceman Joe Gatenby joins the Varsity Reds after playing his five year junior career with the Kelowna Rockets and Kamloops Blazers. He was an alternate captain his last three seasons.

Like Rassell, the 6', 190 pound native of Kelown, BC increased his production each season in the WHL. Last season he put up 13 goals, and 46 assists in 72 games and contributed 25 goals and 116 assists over his 317 game career. He added 5 points in 58 playoff games and a single assist during the 2015 Memorial Cup when his Rockets made it to the final only to fall in OT.

After his junior career ended in the spring Gatenby suited up for 10 regular season and playoff games with the ECHL's Atlanta Gladiators, adding 7 points.

Rassell and Gatenby are the first forward and defenceman UNB has recruited out of the WHL since Dylan Willick (2013) and Ben Wright (2009), respectively. They join the previously announced Patrick Watling as new recruits for next season as the V-Reds look to replace the departing Mike Thomas, Chris Caissy, Dylan Willick, Trey Lewis, and Colin Suellentrop.

Both are expected to study business while at UNB.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Regular Season Schedule Released

With the hot stove beginning to heat up, the AUS released the 2018-2019 regular season schedules for their winter sports today, including men's hockey.

Here is how the Varsity Reds schedule for the upcoming season:

Friday, September 28th vs. UPEI
Saturday, September 29th at Moncton
Friday, October 12th vs. Moncton
Saturday, October 13th at UPEI
Friday, October 19th at Acadia
Saturday, October 20th at Saint Mary's
Friday, October 26th vs. Acadia
Saturday, October 27th vs. Saint Mary's
Tuesday, October 30th at Moncton
Saturday, November 3rd vs. UPEI
Friday, November 9th vs. St. FX
Saturday, November 10th vs. Dalhousie
Friday, November 16th at St. FX
Saturday, November 17th at Dalhousie
Friday, November 23rd vs. Saint Mary's
Saturday, November 24th vs. Acadia
Friday, November 30th at Saint Mary's
Saturday, December 1st at Acadia
Friday, January 4th vs. Saint Mary's
Saturday, January 5th vs. Acadia
Friday, January 11th at Dalhousie
Saturday, January 12th at St. FX
Wednesday, January 16th vs. Moncton
Friday, January 18th at UPEI
Friday, January 25th at Dalhousie
Saturday, January 26th at St. FX
Wednesday, January 30th at Moncton
Saturday, February 2nd vs. UPEI
Friday, February 8th vs. St. FX
Saturday, February 9th vs. Dalhousie

A few observations after looking over the schedule:

- All games are scheduled for a 7PM start with the exception of the home game against Acadia on Saturday, November 24th which is slated for a rare 4PM puck drop.

- All games will be played on Friday or Saturday except for three games against Moncton - Tuesday, October 30th on the road (which was most likely moved up a day to avoid falling on Halloween), Wednesday, January 16th at home, and Wednesday, January 30th in Moncton. 

- Once again they will play 18 games (9 home/9 away) prior to the Christmas break and 12 (6 home/6 away) after.

- UNB will face each of the other 6 teams five times each. They will have the extra home game against UPEI, Saint Mary's, and Acadia while playing an extra road game against Moncton, Dalhousie, and St. FX.

- The AUS season opener goes on Wednesday, September 26th with UPEI hosting Moncton.

- For the Varsity Reds, their home (and season) opener will take place on September 28th against UPEI. This is the earliest start to the regular season since at least 1966. The V-Reds are currently riding a 7 game winning streak in season openers and a 29 game winning streak in home openers. They have also won 14 home games in a row against the Panthers.

- In a strange quirk, UNB/UPEI/Acadia are all off the following weekend, which is the Thanksgiving long weekend, while the other four teams all see action on Friday, October 5th. Typically Thanksgiving weekend is when the V-Reds, along with other AUS teams, travel to play NCAA teams. However, when the 30 game schedule was introduced a rule was implemented prohibiting teams from playing exhibition games in the middle of the regular season. This means team can only play exhibition games before the season begins or over the Christmas break so it will be interesting to see if that rule has been changed this year or if there just won't be any AUS/NCAA games.

- The V-Reds have two stretches of three straight home games as well as stretches of three straight and four straight road games.

- Much like last year there are a number of "rematches" scheduled. There are four instances - all in the first half - where UNB will play the same two teams in consecutive weekends.

- The UNB/St. FX rivalry will have to wait a while to be renewed. The two foes don't face each other until November 9th at the AUC. This will be the V-Reds 11th game of the season.

- The Varsity Reds will complete their season series against Acadia and Saint Mary's during the first weekend after Christmas. This will complete a stretch of 6 straight games against the two dating back to the end of the first half. At that point they will have played exactly half of their schedule up to that point (10 out of 20 games) against either the Axemen or Huskies.

- Meanwhile, they will have only played Dalhousie and St. FX twice each by then.

- For the second straight year they will host the X-Men in the second to last game of the regular season. It would be shocking if that game did not have serious playoff implications.

- The regular season concludes for all teams on Saturday, February 9th. UNB will host Dalhousie that night.

- The playoff format will be the same as the last number of years with a pair of best 2-of-3 quarter-finals, best 3-of-5 semi-finals, and a best 2-of-3 final.

- The AUS will have two berths at the 2019 University Cup, which is being hosted by the University of Lethbridge from March 14th to 17th.

- The Varsity Reds women's team will play their first regular season game in 3892 days when they host Mount Allison on Saturday, October 13th at 7PM at the AUC.