Monday, July 27, 2020

News And Notes: Murphy, McIvor, Boudens, Maillet

A few tidbits as a long off-season drags on:

- Recent graduates Marcus McIvor and Matt Murphy have found a home for next season as both have signed with the ECHL's Fort Wayne Komets. The Komets, who are an affiliate of the Vegas Golden Knights, also inked Acadia forward Stephen Harper to a contract. The trio will join former Red Matt Boudens, who just completed his rookie season with the Komets. Boudens scored ten goals with Fort Wayne while also appearing in ten games with the AHL's Chicago Wolves.

- Former Reds - and U Sports - superstar Philippe Maillet has been named to the Washington Capitals 31 player playoff roster. Maillet led their AHL affiliate, the Hershey Bears, in scoring this season with 17 goals and 27 assists in 61 games. As one of the top four teams in the conference when the season was suspended, Washington will receive a bye through the first round of the playoffs. They will instead play seeding games against Boston, Tampa Bay, and Philadelphia. The playoffs get started Saturday in Toronto and Edmonton. 

Friday, July 10, 2020

Reds Add Nurse

The University of New Brunswick Reds have completed their summer recruiting with the addition of Hamilton Bulldogs (OHL) forward and team captain Isaac Nurse.

Nurse spent his entire major junior career with the Bulldogs, where he was a teammate of fellow recruit Kade Landry. Overall, he compiled 50 goals and 42 assists in 221 regular season games. He had a career-high of 17 goals and 13 assists in 2017-2018 before adding another seven goals and four assists in 21 postseason games that season, helping his team capture the OHL Championship. Injuries limited him this past season, but he was on pace for a career year with 15 goals and 11 assists in only 31 games.

Head coach Gardiner MacDougall praised Nurse's "speed and relentless work ethic" and noted that the 5'11", 185 pound native of Hamilton has "continuously improved his game", working his way from a late round draft pick to become the Bulldog's captain this past year.

Nurse comes from a family with a long line of accomplished athletes. His sister was a member of Canada's silver medal hockey team at the 2018 Winter Olympics. He is the cousin of Edmonton Oilers defenceman Darnell Nurse and Kia Nurse, who plays for New York in the WNBA. He is also the nephew of former NFL quarterback Donovan McNabb.

The addition of Nurse is an interesting move for the Reds. They finished the season with a maxed out roster of 22 skaters and have lost five players to eligibility or graduation in Stephen Anderson, Patrick Watling, Marcus McIvor, Mark Simpson, and Matt Murphy. However, they have now announced six recruits for the upcoming season. This leads one to believe forward Oliver Cooper will not be returning for his 5th season of eligibility, there has been an unannounced departure, or they are planning on keeping someone out of game action all season as to not count against the roster cap.

Monday, June 22, 2020

Golden Bears Suspend Hockey For Season

In a shocking announcement, the University of Alberta has suspended their men's and women's hockey, basketball, and volleyball teams for the entirety of the 2020-2021 season due to financial concerns.

It had previously been reported that Canada West would not hold any athletic events until January at the earliest, so it appears Alberta decided it did not make sense financially to only play, at most, half a season in these sports.

According to the press release, "Cuts to the Campus Alberta Grant, the demand by the Alberta government that universities balance their budget and reduce expenditures in-year, and the reduction to the University of Alberta Athletics and Recreation student fee...has produced a worst-case scenario for University of Alberta varsity sport."

It's worth noting that the University of Lethbridge also stated that cuts from the provincial government played a role in their decision to discontinue their hockey programs back in April.

It's never good when a school the size of Alberta is forced to make these kind of cuts, especially when it involves the most-storied university hockey program in the country. However, while conference rivals such as Saskatchewan and Calgary are undoubtedly licking their chops at the prospect of a Golden Bears-free season as it constitutes a prime opportunity to make a championship run, it is very likely Alberta's season-long absence will ultimately prove to be inconsequential as there is still a very real possibility the entire season eventually gets canceled anyway.

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Stienburg Steps Down

Long-time Saint Mary's Huskies head coach Trevor Stienburg has stepped down from his coaching duties, the team has announced.

Stienburg spent 23 years behind the Huskies bench, leading the team to a school-record 369 regular season victories, three AUS Championships (2002, 2009, 2010), and their first University Cup in 2010. Additionally, he helped the Huskies to a national silver medal (losing to UNB 2-0 in 2013) and national bronze medal (in 2016). He was named the national Coach of the Year on three separate occasions.

Since both teams annually field contending teams, it isn't a shock that the the Huskies and Reds have had their share of epic battles over Stienburg's tenure. While the stakes were never bigger than when they met in the 2013 University Cup final, perhaps their most intense meetings came in the 2008 and 2009 AUS Final. The Reds swept the Huskies in 2008 with a pair of overtime victories only to have the Huskies return the favour the next year, blasting the Reds 5-1 in the 3rd and deciding game at the AUC to capture the conference banner.

Other postseason match-ups took place in 2003 (2-0 UNB series win in AUS quarter-final), 2013 (2-1 UNB series win in AUS Final), 2014 (3-1 SMU series win in AUS semi-final), 2016 (4-0 UNB win in UCup semi-final), 2017 (3-1 UNB series win in AUS semi-final), and 2018 (3-0 UNB series win in AUS semi-final).

Stienburg has stated a desire to spend more time with his ailing parents, as well as watch his son Matthew - a 3rd round draft pick of the Colorado Avalanche who currently plays at Cornell University (NCAA) - play as motivation for his decision.

No replacement has been named as of yet.

AUS Cancels Fall Sports Schedule

As most of you have heard by now, the AUS have announced that they have canceled all conference sporting events until January 2021 due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The decision was made in conjunction with the OUA, Canada West, and U Sports.

It was also announced that an announcement regarding the the fate of winter sports, as well as two-term sports such as hockey, basketball, and volleyball, will be made in the fall.

Reds Athletic Director John Richard issued a statement on the news.

Although this news is disappointing, especially given how well the Atlantic provinces have fared in terms of containing the virus thus far, it is not terribly surprising. Many schools have already announced they will be offering primarily on-line courses this fall and, as we are seeing with numerous professional leagues, there are still plenty of logistical hurdles that need to be figured out to put on sporting events safely for both the players and spectators.

We now hold out hope that we will at least see part of a season, beginning in January.