Saturday, May 30, 2009

We're Rhode Island Bound...

The University of Maine released its men's hockey schedule late Thursday afternoon and it appears as though UNB will visit the Black Bears on January 2, 2010. A quick browse through the NCAA team sites will show that that the Providence Friars are also hosting UNB on Friday, Oct 9 in Rhode Island.

This is the time of year the NCAA teams release their 2009-2010 schedules, but unfortunately not all are finalized. The AUS looks well represented in NCAA exhibition games again, with UPEI playing RPI and Quinnipiac, Acadia playing UNH, and of course STU playing Northeastern and Sacred Heart. Good luck to all our AUS counterparts against these teams.

The Oct 9th date for UNB is interesting. Over the last few years UNB has typically made a weekend out of travelling south, so it might not be a stretch to assume there's a second game to be played possibly on the 1oth or 11th of October somewhere as well. Road trip!!!

No word yet on the possibility of another NCAA team following in Union, Maine, and Boston College's footsteps and making the trek north to UNB this year. NCAA rules are complicated, and unfortunately teams are only allowed to play in Canada once every several years, so scratch those three. Safe to assume the gauntlet hath been layeth downeth...we'll see if anyone accepts the challenge...

One last note on recruiting. A bunch of you have emailed us wondering about this player, or sharing a rumour about that one. We appreciate the love and we try to respond. Unfortunately we don't have any super terrific top-secret announcements to make just yet because we don't know for sure what new players Coach MacDougall will bring in. If you ask the old guard of UNB fans, they'll tell you by UNB standards it's a bit early still. We'd rather not contribute to overeager speculating on former 1st round draft picks and such. Patience. We all hear the rumours, but remember - the safest bet is that they're not V-Reds until they're here in September. Some former committed recruits have gone on to be a few of our fiercest competitors, and vice-versa. As soon as we hear any formal news that we can cite from reputable sources, we'll share them. Until then, it's all unconfirmed. :)

Remember kids, MacDougall knows best...

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Our Sympathies To Family and Friends of Mike Power

On behalf of all UNB hockey fans, we'd like to offer our sympathies to the family and friends of Mike Power who passed away earlier this week.

Among his many contributions to amateur sports in Fredericton, you may recognize his name as the coach of the women's hockey team at UNB. Several people who knew Mike sent us emails in the last day with short stories and personal memories. It's clear by the common theme of their sentiments that he was enthusiastic, genuine, and gracious with his commitments to local sports. The entire community benefits from people like Mike Power.

Dave Ritchie remembers Mike Power in his article in today's Daily Gleaner which we hope you'll read.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Your thoughts on the new "Best of Five" format?

A big thanks to the AUS AD's for giving university hockey fans something talk about in this slow part of the off-season (unless you believe all the rumours about Tavares signing up for intersession at UNB). As you may have seen in the Gleaner or at our good friends at STUTOMMIES.COM this morning, the AUS has decided on having two "Best of Five" rounds to decide the AUS playoffs. The first round would remain a maximum of three games.

We'll solicit your thoughts in the comments section as always. Our take is that this is long overdue. Not solely because of any "revenue generating" that might occur for the teams that draw well. In fact, one could argue that teams like Moncton and UNB wouldn't really see another game on home ice as a result of this anyway since they've tended to finish series in 4 games or less in recent years, and 4 teams will still be on the outside of these extra games every year. Rather this makes sense because it does give more opportunity to showcase the best hockey in this part of Canada. If it was just about revenue for the "have teams", they'd have pushed to remove the first-round byes and let everyone in so the top seeds could play a few cannon-fodder teams in round 1.

Some might argue more games are needed to really decide the better team, and certainly this year's NHL playoffs would look considerably different if the first round were a best of 3 (ask the Devils and Rangers, or even the Penguins this week how they'd feel about it...) but we'll take the position that the rules are the same for everyone and no matter the sport, gold is awarded to the winners of the contests that matter, even if a best of five might produce different results one-third of the time.

Instead this about getting more exposure by showcasing the best of the best in front of a bigger audience, with more on the line. You won't find many clubs that didn't increase their home attendance during the playoffs this year.

(Team, ave. home reg. season home attendance, ave. playoff home attendance)

Acadia, 1618, 1696
Moncton 1059, 1398
SMU 594, 1844
STFX 993, 1300
UNB 2495, 2621
UPEI 962, 1193

As you can see, every team drew larger crowds as you'd expect. But look what happened in Halifax - they tripled attendance! There's certainly benefit to all AUS teams if AUS hockey becomes the talk of the town in the largest market in the conference.

Good for the AUS!