Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Braes Signs With AHL's Stars

The Texas Stars, American Hockey League affiliate of the NHL's Dallas Stars, have signed Varsity Reds forward Cam Braes to a contract for the upcoming season, the team announced today.

Braes leaves the V-Reds after three successful seasons in which he tallied 26 goals and 43 assists in 82 regular season games and 7 goals and 11 assists in 18 playoff games. He also played in two University Cup tournaments, helping UNB to a National Championship in his rookie year in 2012-2013 and then a 2nd place finish this past year, in which he was named to the All-Tournament team.

Prior to joining UNB the native of Shawinigan Lake, BC played 5 seasons in the WHL with Lethbridge and Moose Jaw, posting 116 goals and 124 assists in 350 regular season games.

For the Varsity Reds, the loss of Braes (combined with the graduation of Dana Fraser) means they will looking to fill both top-6 centre spots this summer, roles which may be attractive to potential recruits.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

AUS Schedule Announced

The AUS announced the 2015-2016 conference schedule earlier this week. This is what it looks like for the Varsity Reds:

Saturday, October 10th vs. UPEI
Friday, October 16th vs. St. FX
Saturday, October 17th vs. Dalhousie
Wednesday, October 21st at St. Thomas
Friday, October 30th vs. Acadia
Saturday, October 31st vs. Saint Mary's
Wednesday, November 4th vs. St. Thomas
Friday, November 6th vs. Moncton
Saturday, November 7th at UPEI
Friday, November 13th at Acadia
Saturday, November 14th at Saint Mary's
Friday, November 20th at St. FX
Saturday, November 21st at Dalhousie
Wednesday, November 25th at Moncton
Friday, November 27th vs. Moncton

Friday, January 8th vs. Dalhousie
Saturday, January 9th vs. St. FX
Friday, January 15th at Dalhousie
Saturday, January 16th at St.FX
Friday, January 22nd at Saint Mary's
Saturday, January 23rd at Acadia
Wednesday, January 27th vs. St. Thomas
Friday, January 29th vs. UPEI
Saturday, January 30th at Moncton
Friday, February 5th vs. Saint Mary's
Saturday, February 6th vs. Acadia
Wednesday, February 10th at St. Thomas
Friday, February 12th at UPEI

A few interesting notes about this year's schedule:

- For the 2nd consecutive season St. Thomas and Moncton will kick off the AUS season when they play on Thursday, October 8th in Moncton. The remaining 6 teams see their first action two days later.

- UNB plays their first 3 games, and 7 out of their first 8, at the AUC.

- Overall, the V-Reds play 15 games in the 1st half (8 home/7 away) and 13 in the 2nd half (6 home/7 away).

- For the 2nd straight season, and 6th time in 9 years, UNB plays UPEI in their season opener. Last year they won 3-2 in Charlottetown on a Cameron Critchlow OT goal.

- This is only the 2nd time in those 6 meetings in which the game will be at the AUC. UNB defeated the Panthers 10-0 to open the 2009-2019 season.

- UNB has won 4 straight season openers. Their last loss was 4-2 at UPEI to open the 2010-2011 season.

- The V-Reds have also won an amazing 26 straight home openers dating back to a 6-5 loss to Saint Mary's to kick off the 1988-1989 season.

- October 10th is tied for the earliest they have began a season since 2000. They beat UPEI 4-3 in the season opener on October 10th, 2007.

- Head coach Gardiner MacDougall is 15-0-0 all-time in home openers and 10-3-1-1 all-time in season openers.

- The V-Reds host St. FX on October 16th in their 2nd home game of the season. This will be the first meeting since UNB defeated the X-Men 6-3 in the 5th and deciding game of the AUS-semi-finals last February.

- UNB will look to extend their current 12 game home winning streak against St. FX.

- The next night they host the Dalhousie Tigers. UNB has currently won 12 straight games overall - and 16 straight at home - versus the Tigers.

- UNB's first road game is against the St. Thomas Tommies on Wednesday, October 21st. The Varsity Reds are on a 20 game winning streak on the road against the Tommies dating back to 2006.

- The other three 'Battle of the Hill' games are also on Wednesdays this year - November 4th and January 27th at the AUC and february 10th at the Grant*Harvey Centre.

- After playing STU on October 21st the V-Reds will enjoy a rare weekend off from conference play. However, they will be in action as they are scheduled to face the University of Maine in Orono on Friday, October 23rd.

- UNB will then play 4 straight home games. This means that they won't have to leave Fredericton for an AUS game until November 7th.

- The first game in that home stretch will come against the Acadia Axemen on October 30th in a rematch of last year's AUS Finals. Other games against Acadia include November 13th and January 23rd in Wolfville and February 6th at the AUC.

- The V-Reds then play the Saint Mary's Huskies the next night, on Halloween. This will be the first time UNB has played at home on Halloween night since 2003.

- UNB starts a stretch of 6 straight road games on November 7th, which is their longest "road trip" since playing 7 in a row away from the AUC between December 5th, 1982 and January 22nd, 1983.

- The first four games will represent arguably the toughest stretch of the season. They play at UPEI on November 7th, at Acadia on November 13th, at Saint Mary's on November 14th, and at St. FX.

- The V-Reds have lost 5 out of their last 7 and 8 out of their last 13 in Wolfville against the Axemen, never winning more than 2 games in a row. Further, they are only 1-5 in the last 3 seasons in conference play on the road against Acadia.

- They have also lost 8 out of their last 13 and 11 out of their last 17 on the road against Saint Mary's.

- Besides the four games against St. Thomas, the only other non-weekend game on the schedule is a game in Moncton against the Aigles Bleus on Wednesday, November 25th. UNB currently has a 13 game winning streak against Moncton.

- The V-Reds wrap up the first half with a 2nd straight game against Moncton on Friday, November 27th at the AUC. With the way these two teams usually play one another there are bound to be some fireworks in this one.

- This will be the first time UNB has played the same team in back-to-back games since doing it against Saint Mary's in October of 2103.

- It is the 2nd straight year they have closed the 1st half against Moncton. UNB won 9-2 last year.

- November 27th is the earliest end date to the 1st half since the 2005-2006 season (November 26th).

- The 2nd half of the schedule begins on January 8th when they host Dalhousie. It is the 2nd straight year and 7th time in 8 years they open the 2nd half at home.

- The V-Reds will endure another tough road stretch when they play at St. FX on January 16th, at Saint Mary's on the 22nd, and at Acadia on the 23rd.

- That is followed by 3 games in 4 days - against St. Thomas on January 27th and UPEI on January 29th at the AUC and then at Moncton on January 30th.

- The last two home games of the season - against Saint Mary's on February 5th and Acadia on February 6th - will undoubtedly go a very long way in determining playoff positioning.

- UNB has won 6 straight home finales.

- MacDougall is 12-3-0 all-time in home finales.

- The game at St. Thomas on February 10th is the latest regular season match-up between the two teams since they played on February 16th, 2007.

- The season finale is February 12th at UPEI. It is the 3rd straight year they have ended the season on the road.

- It is the 2nd straight year and 6th time in the last 13 years they have ended the season against the Panthers. UPEI beat the V-Reds 4-2 in Charlottetown in the season finale last year.

- MacDougall is 11-3-1 all-time in season finales.

- The AUS playoffs will once again feature a pair of best-of-3 quarter-finals, followed by best-of-5 semi-finals, and a best-of-3 final.

- The 2016 University Cup will be back in in Halifax. It is hosted by Saint Mary's and will run from March 16th to 20th. The AUS will have 3 berths in the tournament.

With information from the RedSea databse

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

MacDougall To Receive Prestigious Award

University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds head coach Gardiner MacDougall will be awarded the Jean-Marie De Koninck Coaching Excellence award at a ceremony tonight in Ottawa. The honour is bestowed upon those who have "made an outstanding contribution to university sport as demonstrated by long-term commitment and leadership as a coach at the local, provincial, national and/or international levels." He is the first UNB coach to be recognized since the awards inception in 2007.

In 15 seasons behind the bench at UNB MacDougall has guided the V-Reds to 6 AUS Championships, 9 University Cup Appearances, 7 CIS Championship game appearances, and 4 CIS titles. Further, he is the all-time AUS leader in regular season and playoff victories. His overall record at UNB currently stands at an impressive 448-181-20.

Long-time sports information director Jack Neumann and television reporter Marc Durand will also be honoured by the CIS Wednesday evening.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Golden Bears Deny V-Reds

The #1 ranked Alberta Golden Bears shut down the high powered University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds en route to a 6-3 victory in the University Cup final tonight in Halifax. It is Alberta's record 15th National Championship.

The Golden Bears jumped out to a 2-0 lead after the 1st period and the V-Reds were never able to get over the hump. Dylan Willick scored at 3:05 of the 2nd period to cut the lead in half. Perhaps the turning point came late in the period when UNB couldn't do anything on back to back power plays and then Johnny Lazo scored with 3.6 seconds remaining to give Alberta a 3-1 lead heading into the 3rd. The V-Reds kept on battling back though. Philippe Maillet tipped a Jordan Murray shot at 7:55 to make it 3-2. Kruise Reddick made it 4-2 with Alberta's 2nd power play goal of the game at 11:12, but Adrian Robertson's fluttering shot made it 4-3 with 4:10 remaining. UNB was then awarded a late power play with a chance to tie the game, but a turnover led to a 2-on-0 break for Alberta and Levko Koper notched the shorthanded goal. Jordan Rowley capped the scoring with another shorthanded goal, this time into an empty net.

- UNB got a bit of a taste of their own medicine as they were out-shot 24-9 in the game, including 14-3 in the 3rd period. It has been a long time since the Varsity Reds weren't able to get at least 10 shots on goal in a game. Usually it is UNB who locks things down in the 3rd period, but not on this night.

- The story of the game, besides Alberta's defensive play and exceptional shot blocking, was the special teams. The Golden Bears went 2 for 5 on the power play and scored 2 shorthanded goals. UNB was 0 for 7 and didn't look particularly dangerous on any of them. They had a couple of power plays while trailing by a goal and couldn't take advantage.

- Attendance was 4404 on a snowy night in Halifax.

- Dylan Willick and Levko Koper were named the player's of the game.

- UNB is now 5-5 all-time in national finals, including 0-3 against Alberta.

- Jordan Murray and Cam Braes were named to the tournament all-star team.

- Guelph defeated UQTR 3-2 in overtime earlier today to win the bronze medal.

- While it is obviously a very disappointing end to the season for the Varsity Reds we should all be proud of the what they accomplished this season. They are an extremely young team who were playing a veteran Golden Bears team - many of whom played in last year's final. The fact that they finished 1st in the AUS in the regular season, won the AUS Championship, and made the National Championship game with so many players in their 1st or 2nd year is quite impressive and this learning experience should only serve them well moving forward. If there is one thing we can all be sure of, it's that Gardiner MacDougall and Co. will be doing all they can over the summer to make the V-Reds even stronger next season.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

UNB vs. Alberta Preview, Prediction, Poll

UPDATE: If anybody wants to send the team a message that will be posted in the locker room, please e-mail

It will be a fitting end to the CIS men's hockey season as the #1 seeded Alberta Golden Bears - ranked #1 in all 20 polls this year - will face the #2 seeded University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds, who were ranked 2nd in all but 6 polls, for the National Championship tomorrow at 6:30PM.

This will be the 10th meeting all-time between the two hockey powers, with 7 of the previous 9 coming on the national stage.

1995/1996: Lost 5-0 in exhibition at AUC
1996/1997: Won 4-3 in OT in national semi-final.
1997/1998: Won 5-2 in national semi-final.
1999/2000: Lost 5-4 in OT in national final.
2002/2003: Lost 8-2 in national bronze medal game.
2003/2004: Won 6-5 in OT in national semi-final.
2007/2008: Lost 3-2 in national final.
2008/2009: Won 6-3 at nationals.
2010/2011: Won 6-2 in exhibition at Clare Drake Arena in Alberta.

Overall: 5-4
University Cup: 4-3
Gold Medal Game: 0-2

Some interesting tidbits heading into tomorrows game:

- UNB has never beaten Alberta in a medal game.
- UNB has won National Championships in every odd-numbered year since 2007 (2007, 2009, 2011, and 2013).
- UNB has never won a National Championship while wearing their dark uniforms. They wore their home white jerseys in all 5 of their National Championship wins. As the lower seed tomorrow they will be wearing their red away jersey or black 3rd jersey.
- There have been four previous AUS/Canada West finals. Alberta defeated Moncton in 1999 and UNB in both 2000 and 2008. Saint Mary's beat the Golden Bears in 2010.
- The Varsity Reds and Golden Bears have accounted for 8 out of the last 10 National Championships. UNB won in 2007, 2009, 2011, and 2013 while Alberta won in 2005, 2006, 2008, and 2014.

At this point everyone knows about Alberta and what they bring to the table. They are the dominant CIS program and considering not only the year they have had thus far, but the fact that they are defending University Cup Champions, they will easily be the toughest team UNB has faced all year. Perhaps the only time this season the V-Reds will be be underdogs.

Some key stats for Alberta this season include:

- CIS-best 24-3-1 record in the regular season and 4-0 playoff record.
- They led the country with 124 goals scored (UNB was 2nd with 118).
- They were 2nd with 56 goals allowed (UNB was 5th with 60).
- They led the country with 1155 shots on goal (UNB was 3rd with 1020).
- They were 2nd with a 25.7% power play percentage (UNB was 15th at 19.2%).
- They were 6th with a 88.1% penalty kill percentage (UNB was 10th at 84.3%).
- They led the country with 8 shorthanded goals (UNB was tied for 13th with 4).

Unlike Windsor and Guelph, who have good top-6 forwards and top-4 defenceman but weren't able to match UNB's depth up and down the line-up, the Golden Bears won't be at the same disadvantage. Alberta has quality major junior graduates at every spot in their line-up and had 10 different players contribute 10+ points this year. They are led offensively by Canada West MVP and 1st Team All-Canadian T.J. Foster (18 goals, 24 assists) and Canada West 1st Team All-Star Jordan Hickmott (19 goals, 21 assists) while also receiving contributions from forwards Brett Ferguson (27 points), Levko Koper (25), Cana West 2nd Team All-Star Kruise Reddick (22), and Canada West rookie of the year and CIS All-Rookie Team member Stephane Legault (21). CIS Defenceman of the Year and 1st Team All-Canadian Jesse Craige (19 points), Canada West 2nd Team All-Star Jordan Rowley (18), and Thomas Carr (16) are the catalysts from the back-end. In goal, they have rotated goaltenders much of the year with Kurtis Mucha (1.87 GAA, 0.917 GAA) most likely getting the call tomorrow night.

Obviously, the V-Reds will be in tough against the Golden Bears. However, there are a few things working in their favour (courtesy UNB supporter and historian Eric Drummie).

- The #1 seed has won 5 out of the 8 finals they have been in. The #2 seed, which UNB is, has won 6 out of their 7 appearances.
- 59% of the time the eventual winner has come from the host conference.
- 59% of the time the winner has played 3 games in 4 days (as UNB did this year). Only 41% of the time has a team won after playing three games in three days (which Alberta is looking to accomplish).
- 65% of the time the winner has played in the afternoon pool (like UNB this year).

When it comes down to it, this is going to be a very tough game for the V-Reds. The Golden Bears play a similar style to UNB - speed, quick transition from defence to offence, constant puck pressure, and a relentless fore-check with scorers up and down the line-up - but they might even be better at it. Just like any game between two evenly matched teams special teams and goaltending might be the difference. David Shantz needs to be on top of his game as the Golden Bears will undoubtedly generate more than than the 12-15 shots Windsor and Guelph did against the V-Reds. Shantz will need to make all of the easy saves and probably a few that he shouldn't make. On the other hand, UNB should look to get as many pucks as possible on the Alberta goal. Mucha had good numbers this year, but how much of that was a product of the team he plays on? Much like UNB goalies over the years, he probably isn't used to seeing 30+ shots a game. Of course UNB will need to remain disciplined as the Golden Bears power play is extremely dangerous. On paper Alberta has the better special teams so if UNB can at least keep it even that will go a long way to securing a victory. Having said that, while UNB hasn't seen a team like Alberta this year the same could also be said in reverse - the Bears haven't faced a team as good as the V-Reds either. At the end of the day, it is anyone's game. All I know is that it will be a fantastic game that will be close right to the end. 

What do you think?

Who wins: UNB or Alberta?

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