Thursday, October 17, 2013

UNB Varsity Reds 2013-2014 Preview

UPDATE: CHSR colour commentator David Kilfoil has more AUS goodness for us to enjoy as he has his conference preview posted over at the CIS Blog.

While we all await Bruce Hallihan's always excellent annual AUS preview, which will appear in tomorrow's edition of the Daily Gleaner, the AUS website has posted team previews for all 8 teams in the conference.

Here is what they had to say about the V-Reds:

(FREDERICTON, N.B) - The UNB Varsity Reds enter the 2013-14 regular season as the reigning AUS and CIS champions.

The V-Reds continued their odd number year streak of success in CIS men's hockey by capturing their fourth CIS title in the past seven years with a championship game victory over the Saint Mary's Huskies last March in Saskatoon.

UNB has also won titles in 2007, 2009 and 2011 along with a CIS silver medal in 2008.
Last season, the Varsity Reds came out on top in the parity packed AUS conference with their third consecutive Atlantic conference title along with their sixth consecutive regular season pennant despite losing 10 players from their 2011-12 roster.

This year, UNB graduated 12 players but will be welcoming at least 10 new faces to their 2013-14 roster.

Fifth year senior Chris Culligan will once again wear the "C" for the Varsity Reds. He has two national championships under his belt and led the team with 31 points last season.

Along with University Cup MVP Tyler Carroll and third year forward Thomas Nesbitt, they will form a top line for UNB. Nick MacNeil, fresh off his third NHL camp and sophomore Cam Braes will also be key players while on the blue-line, AUS all-star Marc-Antoine Desnoyers and fifth year associate captain Ben Shutron will help lead the way.

Fifth-year goalie Charles Lavigne has had a great pre-season and along with rookie Joel Vienneau will form the key part of the UNB defence. Other rookies who impressed in the pre-season include forward Cam Maclise and defenceman Jordan Murray.

The V-Reds finished with a 5-2 record in pre-season play.

They opened with a 4-2 win over the Moncton Aigles Bleus in Cocagne, N.B., before sweeping the Windsor Lancers in two straight games at the UNB 2013 Fall Classic. They fell by a score of 4-0 to the AHL's Portland Pirates on Sept. 25 and then returned home to defeat the Carleton Ravens 3-2.

UNB wrapped up their pre-season schedule by travelling to Colorado to face some NCAA opposition. The Varsity Reds lost 5-0 to Colorado College on Oct. 5 before defeating Denver the next day by a score of 2-1.

Look for the Varsity Reds to continue to play their high pressure up tempo game with the yearly quest of being the most improved team in the country's toughest conference.

The AUS regular season play begins for UNB on Oct. 18 in Fredericton when the reigning AUS and CIS champion Varsity Reds will host the StFX X-Men.

Notes: The V-Reds have been ranked second in each of the first two CIS Men's Hockey Top 10 polls released this fall ... All of the UNB home games this season will be available via live webcast at ... Fifth-year forward Chris Culligan enters the 2013-14 season as the UNB and AUS active leader in career points scored. In four seasons with UNB, Culligan has 37 goals and 94 assists for 131 points ... Head coach Gardiner MacDougall is just four regular season wins shy of 250 for his career. In 13 seasons behind the UNB bench, he has racked up a regular season record of 246-100-18 ... MacDougall will also serve as Team Canada bench boss at the 2013 Winter Universiade this December in Trentino, Italy. He will be assisted by StFX's Brad Peddle and UPEI's Forbes MacPherson as Team Canada will be represented in men's hockey by a team comprised entirely of players from the AUS conference.

Team Profile:
2012-13 regular season record: 23-5
2012-13 regular season standings: First place in AUS
2012-13 playoff record: 8-2 (5-2 AUS playoffs; 3-0 University Cup)
2012-13 playoff finish: Defeated UPEI in best-of-five AUS semifinal (3-1); defeated Saint Mary's in best-of-three AUS final (2-1); won all three University Cup games in Saskatoon.

Head Coach: Gardiner MacDougall 
- Number of seasons as head coach with team (including 2013): 14th
- Career AUS regular season record with team: 246-100-18
- Career overall record in CIS (reg. season & playoffs only): 311-133-18
- Career overall record in CIS (all games included): 388-146-39
- Career overall record in CIS National Championships: 18-4

Quote from head coach:
"It is an exciting opportunity ahead for this season with our team – we have had a very competitive pre-season which included a trip to Denver to play top notch NCAA competition along with our annual AHL game in Portland. This should give us a great foundation to face the challenges of the Atlantic conference." – Gardiner MacDougall

Total number of returning players: 12

Key returning players:

F - Chris Culligan (5th year - team captain): Led the team with 31 points last season and entering the 2013-14 season he is tied for 10th place all-time at UNB for career regular season points (131)…Tied for the most assists in the AUS last season with a career-best 27…plays heavy minutes and is highly respected for his character, sportsmanship and compete level…He was the winner of the 2012-13 AUS Most Sportsmanlike player and named an AUS second team all-star.

F - Tyler Carroll (3rd year): Had a career-best regular season...Tyler became an offensive force in 2012-13 with 15 goals, including nine on the power-play in only 15 games...Was named a second team all-star and was the University Cup MVP.

F - Nick MacNeil (4th year): Nick also had a career-best regular season...A top notch two-way forward, he tied Carroll for second in AUS goal scoring with 15 and was in the top ten in points with 25. Nick was also named to the CIS University Cup all-star team.

D - Ben Shutron (4th year): Ben is a born leader both on and off the ice and in the classroom...An Academic all-Canadian, Ben played all 28 regular season games last year posting 4 goals and 11 assists...At the University Cup he had 1 goal and 2 assists.

D - Marc Antoine Desnoyers (4th year): Had a break-out season last year with UNB and was top-3 in AUS scoring by defencemen...posted an impressive +/- rating of +30...He is an excellent defender and a top penalty killer while also running the power-play....Has excellent mobility and gets the puck out of his own end as good as anyone in the AUS...Named a 2012-13 AUS second team all-star and was also named to the 2013 University Cup all-star team.

Key recruits or transfers:

F - J.P. Labardo: A five-year veteran of the OHL who was an original second round draft selection of the Guelph Storm before being traded to Oshawa where he spent two seasons.  Last year, he had a break-out year with Erie, scoring 24 goals and adding 38 assists for 62 points. He was picked up by the Fort Wayne Komets of the ECHL at the end of last season and added three points in four games. Labardo has outstanding speed, great offensive skills and a top notch work ethic.

F - Mike Thomas: A product of the Fredericton minor hockey system who played five years with the Saint John Sea Dogs, captaining them to their first Memorial Cup win in 2011. He followed that with one season of pro hockey divided between two AHL and two ECHL teams. Last season Thomas elected to attend UNB as a red-shirt to regain his CIS eligibility, while still managing to play some weekend games of Newfoundland senior hockey. Mike brings leadership, a physical presence, grit and energy on the forecheck to the V-Reds.

F - Dylan Willick: A former captain of the Kamloops Blazers, Willick played his four-year WHL career with his hometown team. He is a natural centre who can play all three forward positions, and has the reputation of being a terrific shot blocker and penalty killer. Dylan notched a career high 28 goals & 26 assists in the 2011-12 campaign, and had 16 goals and 14 assists this past season in 51 games (due to ankle injury).

D - Matt Petgrave: Despite missing 18 games with an injury, Matt had an outstanding 20-year-old season, scoring 50 points in 50 games (10 g / 40 a). He was named as a finalist for the OHL's defenceman of the year. The four-year OHL veteran also has plenty of international experience, participating in the OHL–Russia Challenge and he was a summer camp invitee to Canada's World Junior Camp in 2011. Matt has excellent athletic ability, great offensive upside and a physical presence.

D - Jordan Murray: Jordan had a break-out 20-year-old season with Drummondville of the QMJHL where he was among the top point producing defencemen in the league. He has great size at 6-foot-2, 205 pounds along with a great shot. He is composed and physical and has plenty of upside to his game. He has also had a strong pre-season and is adjusting well to the CIS level.

D - Keevin Cutting: The captain of the Owen Sound Attack where he spent all five of his OHL years and appeared in a franchise record 374 OHL regular season and playoff games. He is an excellent defensive defenceman and takes pride in shutting down the opponents' top players. Cutting won a U-17 Canadian championship with Team Ontario along with an OHL Championship.

Key losses:

G – Travis Fullerton: has graduated and is playing for the San Francisco Bulls of the ECHL.

G – Dan LaCosta: has graduated and turned down an AHL deal to play for the Cardiff (UK) Devils of the EIHL.

D- Daine Todd: has graduated and finished last year with the AHL Texas Stars. This year he made the line-up of the AHL Portland Pirates.

Source: UNB Sport Information