Thursday, January 7, 2021

Harvey, Boucher Turn Pro

The University of New Brunswick Reds have lost two key pieces to the professional ranks this week as goaltender Samuel Harvey and forward Matthew Boucher have inked AHL and ECHL contracts, respectively. 

According to the Daily Gleaner's (subscription required) Bill Hunt, Harvey has signed a tryout contract with the San Jose Barracuda, the AHL affiliate of the Sharks, where he is expected to compete for their backup role. 

The former Memorial Cup-winning netminder will leave UNB after a short, but spectacular, stay. After completing some of his university courses while in junior, the plan all along for Harvey was to stay with the Reds for two seasons to complete his degree before moving on to the professional ranks. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic meant Harvey only got to play one - unfinished - season in the red and black, posting a 14-2 regular season record with a 1.87 GAA and a 4-1 postseason record with a 1.21 record, leading the Reds to another AUS championship. Their game three victory over Acadia in the AUS Final proved to be the last game of the season as the season was cancelled the night before their opening game at the University Cup. 

Meanwhile, it was announced today that Boucher has signed with the ECHL's Utah Grizzlies. The consistent forward spent two seasons at UNB, putting up over a point per game each year. He accumulated a total of 61 points (31 goals, 30 assists) in 57 regular season games before adding another nine points in as many playoff games. He had three assists in three games at the 2019 University Cup, helping UNB to a national championship.

The loss of Harvey and Boucher isn't necessarily surprising given that pro leagues are starting up again soon and there is an increasing unlikelihood we will see any AUS competition in the near future. However, their departures are a big blow to a UNB roster that had already lost a number of key contributors from last season's squad. 

We may not know when we will the see the Reds back in action, but one thing is for certain - the team that takes the ice will be vastly different looking from the one we last saw raising the AUS trophy in March.

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

15 Reds Named Academic All-Canadians

Fifteen members of the Reds men's hockey team were among a school-record 129 UNB student-athletes to be named U Sports Academic All-Canadians in a virtual ceremony that was held earlier this week.

The players honoured were:

Kris Bennett
Tyler Boland
Matthew Boucher
Samuel Dove-McFalls
Joe Gatenby
Benjamin Gagne
Brady Gilmour
Alexandre Goulet
Connor Hall
Samuel Harvey
James McEwan
Rylan Parenteau
Tristan Pomerleau
Mark Rassell
Mark Simpson

To qualify as an Academic All-Canadian a student-athlete must compete in a varsity sport while maintaining a grade point average of 3.5 or better. 

Overall, just over half of all UNB athletes - 129 out of 255 - achieved this impressive feat.

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

AUS Axes Season

The news all of us dreaded was confirmed late last week as the AUS announced the cancellation of conference-sanctioned regular seasons and postseasons for the 2021 winter semester, following in the footsteps of the OUA and Canada West. 

Given how well Atlantic Canada was handling the COVID-19 pandemic there was optimism we would see a condensed regular season followed by conference playoffs in the new year. Unfortunately, the decision on whether to proceed with a season or not had to be made just as coronavirus cases spiked across the region, effectively squashing any hope of a season. 

There was a sliver of good news, though, as the AUS has stated that member schools will be allowed to engage in competition (ie/ exhibition games) as long as they follow the most up-to-date public health directives. In Bruce Hallihan's recent chat with Gardiner MacDougall, the head coach said "some coaches have reached out" so it appears some conversations have already taken place about the possibility of having games in the new year. 

At this point any kind of competition, even exhibition games, would be welcome. Hopefully it comes to fruition.


Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Bennett, Cooper Named Captains

Fourth year forward Kris Bennett has been named the newest team captain of the Reds, succeeding graduating defenceman Marcus McIvor, the team has announced. Oliver Cooper, the team's lone 5th year player, will serve as the associate captain. 

The hard-working Bennett has been one of the top U Sports players in the country and a fan favourite since joining UNB out of the OHL in 2017. He posted 38 points (18 goals, 20 assists) in 30 games in his freshman year, earning both the AUS and U Sports Rookie of the Year for his efforts. He followed up his stellar rookie campaign with 15 goals and 20 assists in 30 regular season games in 2018-2019, but it was the postseason where he really took his game to another level, helping the Reds to an AUS title and National Championship. He led all players in scoring in the AUS Playoffs with eight points in five games and then had six points in three games at the University Cup in Lethbridge, including a four goal performance in a 9-1 semi-final victory over St. FX and what turned out to be the game-winning goal in a 4-2 win over Alberta in the final. He carried that momentum into last season where he enjoyed the best regular season of his career with 40 points (14 goals, 26 assists) in 29 games before adding another seven points in six playoff games as UNB won their 3rd straight conference championship. 

The remaining members of the Reds leadership group will be announced at a later date.

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

News and Notes: Simpson, Anderson, Power Rankings

A few notes of interest:

- Centre Mark Simpson has agreed to terms with the Stockton Heat, the AHL affiliate of the Calgary Flames. Earlier in the summer Simpson had indicated that he was planning on moving on after four years at UNB, during which time he cemented himself as one of the best two-way forwards in the country and helped the Reds to a pair of national championships. Simpson departs UNB having scored 77 points in 109 regular season games and 15 points in 25 AUS playoff games. 

- Fellow forward Stephen Anderson has also joined the professional ranks. After five seasons at UNB the Morell, PEI product has inked a deal for the 2020-2021 season with the ECHL's Florida Everblades, an affiliate of the Nashville Predators. The smooth skating Anderson was a key member to the Reds top line over the previous two seasons and leaves UNB having scored 130 points in 132 career regular season games and another 23 points in 26 AUS postseason games. He was part of three University Cup-winning teams while at UNB.

- With Simpson and Anderson turning pro, it means every graduating member of last season's team have now signed professional contracts for the upcoming season. Patrick Watling (Allen, ECHL), Marcus McIvor (Fort Wayne, ECHL), and Matt Murphy (Fort Wayne, ECHL) all signed contracts earlier in the summer. 

- The excellent U Sports website 49 Sports recently published their men's hockey power rankings for the last decade. Needless to say, UNB fans will be very happy with the results.