Saturday, September 22, 2018

Pre-Season Ends With Loss

The Ryerson Rams achieved something that no other OUA team has in over six years - defeat the UNB Reds.

Going off of the little information that we have about the game, the Rams built a 1-0 lead after the 1st period, extended it to 4-1 early in the 3rd period, and hung on for a 4-3 win this afternoon at the Mattamy Athletic Centre in Toronto.

The loss ends a lengthy streak for UNB as their last loss to an OUA team was a 3-2 setback to the Western Mustangs at the 2012 University Cup in Fredericton. The Reds had won 27 straight games against OUA teams before today. 

UNB finishes the pre-season with a 3-1-0 record and will now set their sights on Friday night when they host the UPEI Panthers for their home - and season - opener. Game time is 7PM at the AUC.

Of note, the Washington Capitals announced today that Mark Simpson has been released from his try-out agreement so it appears more reinforcements are on the way in time for the AUS regular season.

Friday, September 21, 2018

UNB Stifle Rams

UPDATE: According to Ryerson, this afternoon’s game will not be broadcast.

Goaltender Rylan Parenteau stopped all 22 shots he faced and the University of New Brunswick Reds receivedod in goals from three different players in a 3-0 win over the Ryerson Rams tonight in Toronto. The win came in front of a large crowd at the Mattamy Athletic Centre (formerly Maple Leaf Gardens) and spoiled Ryerson's heavily promoted ‘Back To School Bash'.

After a scoreless 1st period in which UNB held a 10-4 advantage in shots on goal, the Reds finally broke through with a pair of "dirty" goals in the middle stanza. Alexandre Goulet got a stick on a loose puck in the crease for his third goal in as many pre-season games to give the visitors a 1-0 lead and then Mark Rassell, playing in his first game as a Red after arriving from Los Angeles earlier in the day, had four whacks at the puck at the side of the net before finally finding the back of the cage. Shots in the period were 16-9 for UNB.

The Reds put the game in ice in the 3rd period when Stephen Anderson converted a Christopher Clapperton centring pass, beating Taylor Dupuis with a shot from the slot that the Rams goalie may have been screened on. Parenteau and the UNB defence did the rest, limiting Ryerson's time and space all night and giving up minimal quality scoring chances. Shots favoured UNB 12-9 in the period 12-9 and 38-22 in the game.

- Mark Rassell and Matthew Boucher both played their first game of the season. They played on a line with fellow rookie Samuel Dove-McFalls and they were buzzing all night as UNB's best trio of the night. 

- The Rams broadcast did mention some bad news for UNB, revealing defenseman Randy Gazzola has a broken hand. 

- Alex Dubeau also remained out with Luke-Lee Knight once again serving as the back-up.

- Of course Mark Simpson was also scratched due to his participation at Washington’s training camp.

- If not for Dupuis this game could have been much more lopsided. The Rams netminder stood on his head all night, making a number of sparkling saves on dangerous UNB chances. 

- UNB did not have a power play in the game, but their penalty kill was outstanding all night. They did not give up a shot on Ryerson's four power play opportunities. This included a 32 second 5-on-3 advantage in the 1st period when the game was still scoreless.

- The two teams are back at it tomorrow afternoon. Puck drop is scheduled for 5:15PM local time. It is unknown if the game will be web-cast.

Rassell, Boucher Join Reds In TO

The Reds will get a boost this weekend as it has been announced forwards Mark Rassell and Matthew Boucher have met up with the team in Toronto after spending the week at Los Angeles' and Colorado's NHL training camp, respectively. Fans will get their first look at the two new recruits tonight as both are expected to be in the line-up against Ryerson. 

Their arrival leaves Mark Simpson as the only member of the team still away after the 3rd year centre survived the first round of cuts at Washington's camp.

Stream Available For Tonight's Game

The Reds are in Toronto this weekend for a pair of games against the Ryerson Rams and for awhile it looked like there wouldn't be a webcast available for those unable to make it to the rink. However, according to the UNB Twitter account there are now plans by the Rams to live stream the game. It will not be broadcast at like previously thought, but through the Rams Facebook page at Hopefully everything goes off without a hitch and we get to watch some pre-season hockey tonight. For those of you who are in Toronto, admission to the game is free for everyone so get out and support the Reds. Game time is 8:15PM AST.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Reds Rally For Shootout Win

The University of New Brunswick Reds fell behind 2-0 but battled back for a 3-2 shootout victory over the visiting McGill Redmen this afternoon at the Aitken Centre. With their second straight one goal win UNB completes a two game sweep against the defending Queen's Cup champions in their first action of the season.

In a reversal of Friday night's contest, it was the visitors getting out to a two goal cushion in this one thanks to a pair of power play goals that were both the result of a fortunate deflection. The Redmen opened the scoring with just six seconds remaining in the opening frame after Antoine Dufour-Plante slid the puck along the ice and in from in tight. Shots in the period were 12-7 for UNB.

Aaron Armstrong doubled McGill's lead 5:39 into the 2nd period after his shot from the left wing half boards hit a skate or stick in front and went past a helpless Rylan Parenteau. However, the Reds didn't take long to respond as Tyler Boland (Pomerleau, Anderson) curled off the boards and picked the top right corner from the face-off circle at 6:21. The Redmen would hold on to the one goal lead for the rest of the period despite some good bursts of pressure from the Reds. The shots were once again 12-7 in favour of UNB.

Trailing 2-1 the Reds had a pair of power play chances in the 3rd period to try and tie the game. After failing on their first opportunity early in the period, Redmen's star defenseman Nikolas Brouillard was called for a delay of game penalty at 15:47. While they didn't convert with the man advantage, it was just three seconds after the penalty expired when Alexandre Goulet (Cooper, Watling) got possession of the puck in the slot after some nice passing and fired a shot that cleanly beat goaltender Antoine Samuel to knot the game at 2, which is how it would stay until the end of regulation. UNB out-shot McGill 12-5 in the period.

The two teams would skate through a scoreless five minute, 3-on-3 overtime period with the Redmen holding the edge in play, taking four out of the five shots on goal in the extra session. The game then went to a three round shoot-out. After each team exchanged misses, Goulet cut across the crease and out-waited Samuel before shooting the puck into a wide open top of the net. The move was very reminiscent to the one he used to give UNB a big win at St. FX late last season. Harlan Orr would respond for the Redmen to tie the shoot-out at 1 after two skaters each. Tyler Boland was next up and made a deke before snapping a shot that found an opening to give the Reds the advantage, leaving it up to Aaron Armstrong. Armstrong tried "The Forsberg", but Parenteau was able to just get his toe on the puck to give UNB the victory.

 - UNB went with the same line-up as Friday night as Mark Simpson, Mark Rassell, and Matthew Boucher remain away at NHL training camps. Alex Dubeau is nursing a minor injury so 3rd goaltender Luke-Lee Knight once again served as the back-up.

- Bruce Hallihan of the Daily Gleaner confirmed that Peter Trainor has decided not to return for his 5th season as he only has half a term of school to complete. This means UNB enters the season with only 21 skaters - one below the maximum - leaving the possibility open to potentially add another player, most likely over the Christmas break.

- Shots in the game were 37-23 for UNB.

- McGill was 2 for 5 on the power play. The Reds went 0 for 6, which included a 91 second two-man advantage in the 1st period.

- UNB controlled the face-off dot, winning 42 out of 71 draws. Samuel Dove-McFalls (16-8) and Boland (14-7) led the way.

- Cameron Brace, Kris Bennett, and Christopher Clapperton each had a game-high five shots on goal.

- Attendance was 1321.

- UNB improves to 69-3-1 against non-AUS USports teams (ie/ OUA and Canada West) since the beginning of the 2004 season. The three regulation losses have come in the University Cup against Alberta (2008 Final and 2015 Final) and Western (2012 Semi-Final).

- They are 49-0-1 in exhibition games against those two conferences in that time frame, including a current 47 game winning streak. The last time an OUA/CW team beat UNB in an exhibition game was December 29th, 2004 when Lakehead won 5-4 in a shootout.

- In other pre-season action this weekend, Moncton picked up a 3-1 road win over UPEI and Saint Mary's crushed Dalhousie 8-1.

- Although we have gotten used to watching UNB cruise to easy exhibition victories in the past, it must be kept in mind that McGill is one of the top teams in the country and it would not be a surprise to see them at the University Cup again in March.

- Overall, it was a good challenge to begin the season for UNB. While they will undoubtedly be pleased with the two wins against a very good opponent, we are sure there are plenty of things the coaching staff and players will look to improve on moving forward.

- The Reds make their first road trip of the new season next weekend when they travel to Toronto for a pair of games against the Ryerson Rams. The first game goes Friday night at 8:15 AST with the rematch taking place on Saturday at 5:15 AST. This will mark UNB's first appearance in Toronto since claiming a silver medal at the 1997 University Cup.

- It is unknown at this time if the games will be webcast, but if they are they will be found here. The Rams produce arguably the best webcast in the country so hopefully there will be coverage provided.

Reds Open With OT Win

There has been something about 5-4 overtime games at the AUC lately. After ending the University Cup in March with a pair, the University of New Brunswick Reds opened their exhibition schedule with another, with this one being a victory over the visiting McGill Redmen thanks to a Kris Bennett goal late in the extra frame.

The first 60 minutes were what you would expect from two teams playing their first game of the season as it featured sloppy and choppy play at times and defensive breakdowns, but it was also quite entertaining. UNB struck for a pair of quick goals in the latter part of the first period with Cameron Brace (Watling, Cooper) at 12:45 and Alexandre Goulet (Dove-McFalls, Bennett) at 13:16 lighting the lamp. The home side would take a 2-0 into the dressing room after a period in which the shots were 6 apiece.

The 2nd period was probably the best of the night from the Redmen. They out-shot UNB 12-7, had sustained stretches of offensive zone pressure, and scored the only goal as Keanu Yamamoto finished off a 2-on-1 rush at 7:33.

The 3rd period would prove to be the wildest of the night as there were a combined 5 goals scored. Patrick Watling (Brace, Bennett) restored the two goal lead at 2:07 only to have Michael Cramarossa get it back a mere 8 seconds later. Tyler Boland (Anderson, LeBlanc) then made it 4-2 just 1:32 after that. However, McGill battled back with Nikolas Brouillard netting goals at 7:03 and 16:33, the latter being a batted puck out of mid-air, to tie the game 4-4. The Reds couldn't do anything with a late power play and the game would head to overtime. Shots in the period were 16-10 for UNB.

The two teams played a five minute, 3-on-3 overtime period and it featured plenty of good chances from each side, none better than this one that Rylan Parenteau made an absolute larcenous save on:

The Reds made that save of the year candidate even more meaningful when, just moments later, Kris Bennett (Watling, LeBlanc) got the puck at the lip of the crease and made a nifty forehand to backhand move to beat goaltender Louis Guindon for the game winning goal with 1:03 left in the extra session. Each team had one shot each in the period.

- Shots in the game were 30-29 for UNB.

- Forwards Mark Simpson, Mark Rassell, and Matthew Boucher and goaltender Alex Dubeau were scratched. Luke Lee-Knight served as Rylan Parenteau's back-up. Interestingly, Peter Trainor was not listed on the roster sheet so it appears that he is no longer with the team.

- Both teams were scoreless on the power play. McGill had five opportunities while UNB had seven.

- Kris Bennett and Stephen Anderson each had a penalty shot in the game but were both denied.

- UNB held a slight 34-32 advantage on face-offs. Tyler Boland had the best night with 13 wins against 8 losses.

- Bennett was named the player of the game. Watling and Brouillard were the 2nd and 3rd stars respectively.

- Cameron Brace had a game-high 5 shots on goal.

- Given that it was a 28 degree Friday evening during the Harvest Jazz and Blues Festival, the announced attendance of 1651 was pretty decent.

- The jersey numbers for the new recruits are as follows: Patrick Watling (#9), Samuel Dove-McFalls (#15), Joe Gatenby (#37), Noah Carroll (#40), James McEwan (#71), Mark Rassell (#72), and Matthew Boucher (#86).

- This is UNB's 9th consecutive win versus McGill. It is the first time overtime was needed.

- The win also extends one of our favourite and most impressive streaks. UNB has now won 25 straight games - and are on a 56-1-1 run over the last 17 seasons - against OUA teams.

- The Reds will look to make it two in a row against the Redmen tomorrow afternoon. Puck drop is set for 3PM.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Reds Open Season Tomorrow

After 179 days the offseason will finally draw to a close tomorrow night when the University of New Brunswick Reds hit the Aitken Centre ice for a real life game of hockey. The 2018-2019 campaign officially gets underway at 7PM as UNB welcomes the perennial national contender McGill Redmen to the AUC for the first of a pair of games this weekend.

This should prove to be a strong test right out of the gate for UNB as the Redmen are coming off of a  terrific season in which they went 22-4-2 and won the OUA Championship. They would eventually fall 4-1 to Saskatchewan in the opening round of the University Cup.

For UNB, while this will be our first chance to see this year's team in action, it appears they will be shorthanded to begin the season as veteran centre Mark Simpson (Washington) as well as forward recruits Mark Rassell (LA) and Matthew Boucher (Colorado) are away at NHL training camps.

However, hockey is back! Get excited!


Friday, August 31, 2018

New Logo Unveiled

The University of New Brunswick took another step in the re-branding process of their athletic teams today, releasing a new logo sporting the Reds moniker. It had previously been announced that the "Varsity" was being dropped from the name in an effort to make it more inclusive.

The new logo has already begin to pop up around campus, including at centre ice in the Aitken Centre.

Here is the new primary logo:

(Photo credit: UNB Athletics Twitter)
 There will also be secondary logos which feature a lone "R" as well as a "Reds" mark.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Familiar Name Joining Reds

The University of New Brunswick Reds announced their final recruit of the summer this afternoon, confirming the addition of defenceman Noah Carroll out of the Ontario Hockey League. Carroll is the younger brother of former standout forward Tyler, who played for UNB for five seasons between 2011 and 2016.

Carroll is a 2016 6th round draft pick of the Carolina Hurricanes who split his junior career between the Guelph Storm and, most recently, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, where he was an alternate captain last season. He had by far his best statistical season last year while playing with a dominant Greyhounds squad, setting career highs in goals (7), assists (30), penalty minutes (71), and +/- (+37). He added another 3 goals and 3 assists in 24 playoff contests, including a highlight reel overtime goal in game 4 of the OHL Final against eventual league champion Hamilton.

Provided all of the previously announced recruits show up - and there are no surprise departures among the eligible returning players - the addition of Carroll means UNB will enter the season with a full complement of 22 skaters (15 forwards/7 defenceman) for the first time in recent memory.

The 6'1'', 183 pound left shot defenceman from Strathroy, Onatrio has previously attended NHL training camps with the Hurricanes and Toronto Maple Leafs. Teammates Mark Simpson (Washington), Matthew Boucher (Colorado), Mark Rassell (Los Angeles), and Samuel Dove-McFalls (Columbus) have all been invited to participate in rookie camps early next month. It is unknown if they will be available when UNB plays their first pre-season game on September 14th at the AUC against McGill.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Reds Recruit Dove-McFalls

Former 4th round Philadelphia Flyers draft pick and Saint John Sea Dogs centre Samuel Dove-McFalls is the newest member of the University of New Brunswick Reds, the team announced earlier today.

The 6'2", 207 pound Dove-McFalls spent the first four seasons of his CHL career down the highway playing for the Saint John Sea Dogs, helping the team win a QMJHL championship and a Memorial Cup berth in 2017. While in SJ, the 2015 NHL draft pick posted 42 goals and 67 assists in 212 games and also served as their alternate captain his last three years.

The native of Montreal, Quebec was then traded to the Rimouski Oceanic prior to last season and was not only named their team captain, but also had the best statistical season of his career to the tune of 22 goals and 51 assists in 64 games. He added another 9 points in a 7 playoff games. In addition to his offensive prowess, he also earned the Guy Charbonneau Trophy, which is given annually to QMJHL's top defensive forward last season. It might not be a stretch to envision Dove-McFalls - who is strong in the face-off circle and on the penalty kill - beginning his UNB career by sliding seamlessly into the 4th line centre role left vacant with the graduation of Dylan Willick.

With the addition of Dove-McFalls, to go along with previously announced recruits Patrick Watling, Mark Rassell, Matthew Boucher, and James McEwan, the Reds currently feature a very deep and talented forward crop heading into the season.

Dove-McFalls becomes another in a long line of former Sea Dogs to find homes in the AUS this offseason, joining former teammates Cole Reginato (Acadia), Bailey Webster (St. FX), Will Thompson (St. FX), and Blade Mann-Dixon (St. FX). When you factor in current AUS players such as Stephen Anderson (UNB), Matt Murphy (UNB), Olivier LeBlanc (UNB), Oliver Cooper (UNB), and Adam Bateman (SMU) in addition to former players like Mike Thomas (UNB), Pierre Durepos (Moncton), Michael Kirkpatrick (St. FX), Stephen MacAulay (SMU) Saint John has to be considered one of the top CHL teams in the country in terms of sending impact players to the AUS, if not all of U Sports.

Varsity Reds Becoming Reds

In a move that was announced weeks ago, UNB Athletics has begun a re-branding exercise which includes changing the name of the varsity sports teams from Varsity Reds to, simply, Reds. While the traditional red, black, and white colour scheme will remain in place, a new logo is being developed which will be unveiled prior to the upcoming 2018-2019 AUS season.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Exhibition Schedule Features Familiar, Different Opponents

The Varsity Reds have announced their 6 game exhibition slate for the 2018-2019 season and, once again, it features some top quality opposition.

The first games of the new season take place at the AUC on Friday, September 14th at 7PM and Saturday, September 15th at 3PM against the reigning OUA Champion McGill Redmen. The V-Reds and Redmen have gotten to know each other quite well in recent years with 7 match-ups since 2009 - all UNB victories, including a 4-0 win in the 2011 National Championship game. Their last meeting was a 1-0 affair in Montreal in the fall of 2016. UNB is 11-1-0 all-time against the Redmen.

The next weekend the V-Reds will travel to Toronto for a two game set versus the Ryerson Rams, returning the favour after the Rams visited Fredericton last winter for the Pete Kelly Cup. UNB won both games last Christmas - the first two meetings between the schools - by 6-5 (OT) and 8-2 scores. The games will take place on Friday, September 21st (8:15PM) and Saturday, September 22nd (5:15PM) at the Mattamy Athletic Centre, formerly Maple Leaf Garden.

After a weekend of AUS regular season play, the Varsity Reds travel south of the border to face perennial NCAA powerhouse Boston College on Saturday, October 6th at 8PM. This will be the 10th all-time game between the two teams with the Eagles holding a 6-2-1 all-time record, including a 4-2 victory last fall. UNB's two wins came in 2015 (5-2 in Boston) and 2009 (5-3 at the AUC).

The Pete Kelly Cup this season will only feature one game, but it will be against a team the Varsity Reds have never faced in the Lethbridge Pronghorns. The game will take place at the AUC on Saturday, December 28th at 7PM. Lethbridge will no doubt be using this game as a measuring stick as they prepare to host the 2019 University Cup March 14th-17th.

Friday, June 15, 2018

McEwan Is Newest V-Red

UPDATE - Mark Malone of the Chatham Daily News has a great article on McEwan here.

Forward James McEwan of the Ontario Hockey League's Guelph Storm is the latest addition to the AUS Champion University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds, the team announced today. Although the V-Reds have typically waited until late in the summer to announce their recruits, McEwan already becomes the 5th player they have announced for next year, joining forwards Patrick Watling, Mark Rassell, and Matthew Boucher and defenceman Joe Gatenby. 

The 5'11", 194 pound McEwan spent his entire five year junior career with Guelph, the majority of which came as the Storm were rebuilding after a 2014 Memorial Cup run came up one game short.

Unlike UNB's other recruits, McEwan actually saw his numbers dip throughout his junior career. After posting a career high 52 points (25 goals, 27 assists) in 68 games in 2015-2016 and earning team MVP honours in the process, the native of Chatham, Ontario proceeded to put up seasons of 39 points (19 goals, 20 assists) in 58 games in 2016-2017 and 35 points (13 goals, 22 assists) in 64 games this past season. For his career he collected 136 points in 236 games.

However, it appears the numbers don't tell the whole story with McEwan, who has participated in a pair of NHL training camps, first with the Pittsburgh Penguins and then last year with the Montreal Canadiens. He is known for his leadership, popularity, compete level, and for possessing a good shot and high hockey IQ. Furthermore, according to head coach Gardiner MacDougall, McEwan has "excellent speed and is a strong two-way player who can play multiple positions and roles" and has attributes that indicate "an excellent upside and growth to his game."

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Boucher Joins V-Reds

What has already been a strong recruiting summer has gotten even better for the Varsity Reds as they have announced Quebec Remparts captain Matthew Boucher has signed a U Sports Letter of Intent with the team.

The 5'9", 174 pound Boucher just completed an exceptional junior hockey career in which he amassed 192 points (96 goals, 96 assists) in 241 regular season games. He had a career high 31 goals and 38 assists in 66 games this past season and averaged exactly a point per game (176 points in 176 games) during the three years he spent with the Remparts, the last two of which he served as team captain.

Boucher, who was born in Los Angeles, should provide some versatility to the forward ranks as he is able to play all three forward positions and can contribute at both ends of the ice. Despite his size, he is also not afraid to get involved physically as evident by his 307 career PIM.

He is the son of former NHL defenceman Philippe Boucher, a veteran of 16 NHL seasons.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

V-Reds Add Pair From WHL

The defending AUS Champion University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds have gone out west for their first two recruits of the summer and they are big ones, announcing top recruits Mark Rassell and Joe Gatenby have signed Letters of Intent for the upcoming 2018-2019 season. They should both prove to be solid additions to what will no doubt be an impressive group of returning players.

A native of Calgary, Alberta, Rassell comes to UNB after spending his entire four year WHL career with the Medicine Hat Tigers, serving as the team captain last season.

The 6'1", 185 pound centre improved in each of his junior seasons, culminating in a breakout 50 goal, 30 assist campaign this past season. He added 8 goals and 5 assists in just 6 playoff contests. For his efforts he was named co-team MVP and earned awards for his community service and leadership.

Overall, Rassell accumulated regular season totals of 103 goals and 78 assists in 274 games and chipped in another 15 goals and 5 assists in 23 postseason games.

Rassell is no stranger to UNB as his grandfather attended the school and both of his parents earned their Masters degree at UNBSJ.

For more information on the V-Reds newest forward, Ryan McCracken had a nice article in the Medicine Hat News today where he talks with Rassell about his future and his decision to choose UNB.

Defenceman Joe Gatenby joins the Varsity Reds after playing his five year junior career with the Kelowna Rockets and Kamloops Blazers. He was an alternate captain his last three seasons.

Like Rassell, the 6', 190 pound native of Kelown, BC increased his production each season in the WHL. Last season he put up 13 goals, and 46 assists in 72 games and contributed 25 goals and 116 assists over his 317 game career. He added 5 points in 58 playoff games and a single assist during the 2015 Memorial Cup when his Rockets made it to the final only to fall in OT.

After his junior career ended in the spring Gatenby suited up for 10 regular season and playoff games with the ECHL's Atlanta Gladiators, adding 7 points.

Rassell and Gatenby are the first forward and defenceman UNB has recruited out of the WHL since Dylan Willick (2013) and Ben Wright (2009), respectively. They join the previously announced Patrick Watling as new recruits for next season as the V-Reds look to replace the departing Mike Thomas, Chris Caissy, Dylan Willick, Trey Lewis, and Colin Suellentrop.

Both are expected to study business while at UNB.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Regular Season Schedule Released

With the hot stove beginning to heat up, the AUS released the 2018-2019 regular season schedules for their winter sports today, including men's hockey.

Here is how the Varsity Reds schedule for the upcoming season:

Friday, September 28th vs. UPEI
Saturday, September 29th at Moncton
Friday, October 12th vs. Moncton
Saturday, October 13th at UPEI
Friday, October 19th at Acadia
Saturday, October 20th at Saint Mary's
Friday, October 26th vs. Acadia
Saturday, October 27th vs. Saint Mary's
Tuesday, October 30th at Moncton
Saturday, November 3rd vs. UPEI
Friday, November 9th vs. St. FX
Saturday, November 10th vs. Dalhousie
Friday, November 16th at St. FX
Saturday, November 17th at Dalhousie
Friday, November 23rd vs. Saint Mary's
Saturday, November 24th vs. Acadia
Friday, November 30th at Saint Mary's
Saturday, December 1st at Acadia
Friday, January 4th vs. Saint Mary's
Saturday, January 5th vs. Acadia
Friday, January 11th at Dalhousie
Saturday, January 12th at St. FX
Wednesday, January 16th vs. Moncton
Friday, January 18th at UPEI
Friday, January 25th at Dalhousie
Saturday, January 26th at St. FX
Wednesday, January 30th at Moncton
Saturday, February 2nd vs. UPEI
Friday, February 8th vs. St. FX
Saturday, February 9th vs. Dalhousie

A few observations after looking over the schedule:

- All games are scheduled for a 7PM start with the exception of the home game against Acadia on Saturday, November 24th which is slated for a rare 4PM puck drop.

- All games will be played on Friday or Saturday except for three games against Moncton - Tuesday, October 30th on the road (which was most likely moved up a day to avoid falling on Halloween), Wednesday, January 16th at home, and Wednesday, January 30th in Moncton. 

- Once again they will play 18 games (9 home/9 away) prior to the Christmas break and 12 (6 home/6 away) after.

- UNB will face each of the other 6 teams five times each. They will have the extra home game against UPEI, Saint Mary's, and Acadia while playing an extra road game against Moncton, Dalhousie, and St. FX.

- The AUS season opener goes on Wednesday, September 26th with UPEI hosting Moncton.

- For the Varsity Reds, their home (and season) opener will take place on September 28th against UPEI. This is the earliest start to the regular season since at least 1966. The V-Reds are currently riding a 7 game winning streak in season openers and a 29 game winning streak in home openers. They have also won 14 home games in a row against the Panthers.

- In a strange quirk, UNB/UPEI/Acadia are all off the following weekend, which is the Thanksgiving long weekend, while the other four teams all see action on Friday, October 5th. Typically Thanksgiving weekend is when the V-Reds, along with other AUS teams, travel to play NCAA teams. However, when the 30 game schedule was introduced a rule was implemented prohibiting teams from playing exhibition games in the middle of the regular season. This means team can only play exhibition games before the season begins or over the Christmas break so it will be interesting to see if that rule has been changed this year or if there just won't be any AUS/NCAA games.

- The V-Reds have two stretches of three straight home games as well as stretches of three straight and four straight road games.

- Much like last year there are a number of "rematches" scheduled. There are four instances - all in the first half - where UNB will play the same two teams in consecutive weekends.

- The UNB/St. FX rivalry will have to wait a while to be renewed. The two foes don't face each other until November 9th at the AUC. This will be the V-Reds 11th game of the season.

- The Varsity Reds will complete their season series against Acadia and Saint Mary's during the first weekend after Christmas. This will complete a stretch of 6 straight games against the two dating back to the end of the first half. At that point they will have played exactly half of their schedule up to that point (10 out of 20 games) against either the Axemen or Huskies.

- Meanwhile, they will have only played Dalhousie and St. FX twice each by then.

- For the second straight year they will host the X-Men in the second to last game of the regular season. It would be shocking if that game did not have serious playoff implications.

- The regular season concludes for all teams on Saturday, February 9th. UNB will host Dalhousie that night.

- The playoff format will be the same as the last number of years with a pair of best 2-of-3 quarter-finals, best 3-of-5 semi-finals, and a best 2-of-3 final.

- The AUS will have two berths at the 2019 University Cup, which is being hosted by the University of Lethbridge from March 14th to 17th.

- The Varsity Reds women's team will play their first regular season game in 3892 days when they host Mount Allison on Saturday, October 13th at 7PM at the AUC.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Offseason Update

While it has been slow beginning to the offseason in terms of news, there have been a few notes of interest thus far:

- At last month's Senior Appreciation and Awards Ceremony the team handed out a number of accolades. These included Hardest Worker (Kris Bennett), Most Improved (Tristan Pomerleau), Top G.R.I.T. (Mike Thomas), Most Dedicated (Christopher Clapperton), Top Efficiency (Bennett), Unsung Hero (Dylan Willick), Top Defensive Player (Mark Simpson), and Top Defenceman (Randy Gazzola and Matt Murphy).

- The four graduating seniors were also honoured with forwards Dylan Willick, Mike Thomas, and Chris Caissy and defenceman Colin Suellentrop being welcomed into the UNB Hockey Fellows Society. While Willick and Thomas have used up all five years of their eligibility, Caissy and Suellentrop have opted to move on after four years.

- Trey Lewis will also not return after having signed a contract to play for the Brest Albatros in France.

- These five departures, in addition to playing last season two players under the 22 player roster cap, means the Varsity Reds could have up to seven new players in their line-up next season. One of these - forward Patrick Watling - was already announced in September.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Willick Signs With Railers

Varsity Reds team captain Dylan Willick has agreed to terms with the ECHL's Worcester Railers, the team announced earlier this week.

The 5th year forward joins the Railers - an affiliate of the NHL's New York Islanders - after posting 58 points (28 goals, 30 assists) and a +45 rating in a school record-tying 138 regular season games.

Playing in his first professional game on Friday night against the Brampton Beats, Willick - wearing 42 instead of his usual 9 - picked up an assist in a 3-2 victory. He notched his first career professional goal the next night against the Beast when he opened the scoring after picking up a loose puck in the defensive zone and went in all alone, putting the puck top corner for a shorthanded tally. Worcester would go on to a 4-1 win.

Willick is one of two Varsity Reds players who have used up all five years of their eligibility with Mike Thomas being the other.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

University Cup Wrap-Up: V-Reds Win Bronze, X-Men Lose Gold

The 2018 University Cup concluded this morning and afternoon at the AUC with the bronze medal and gold medal games.

This morning in a chippy bronze medal game the University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds defeated the Saskactchewan Huskies 5-4 in overtime.

- Much like in their semi-final game against Alberta the Huskies got out to a 2-0 lead on goals at 6:08 and 16:22 of the opening period. A Matt Murphy (Simpson, McIvor) shorthanded goal off of the rush in the final minute got UNB back within one heading into intermission.

- Saskatchewan restored their two goal advantage early in the 2nd period only to see the V-Reds storm back for three goals in short order to take the lead. At 4:29 Tyler Boland (Goulet, Brace) picked the top corner on a 3-on-1 rush to make it 3-2, then at 6:32 Alexandre Goulet (Brace, Pomerleau) beat Huskies goalie Taran Kozun clean with a wrist shot from the slot to tie, and 25 seconds later Olivier LeBlanc (Murphy, Anderson) let shot go from the point through traffic that hit the post and went in. UNB would hold the lead for about ten minutes until Carson Stadnyk batted the puck out of mid-air from the side of the net to tie it 4-4, which is how it would stay until overtime.

- At 4:14 of the extra session Mark Simpson threw a pass from the corner out front and Goulet just got enough of the puck to tip it into the far side of the cage to give the V-Reds the win. Tristan Pomerleau also assisted on the game winning goal.

- Shots in the game were 38-22 for UNB.

- Despite there being 25 penalties called for 66 minutes in the game, neither team scored a power play goal. UNB went 0 for 9 and Saskatchewan was 0 for 6.

- Goulet (2 goals, 1 assist) and the Huskies Levi Cable (1 goal, 1 assist) were the players of the game.

- The Varsity Reds won 45 out of 77 face-offs. Simpson was 21 for 27 on the day.

- Mark Simpson was named to the all-tournament team.

- Attendance was 2583, which was impressive given the 10AM puck drop.

- UNB improves to 6-0 all-time versus Saskatchewan with every meeting occurring at the University Cup.

- UNB finishes the season with a combined record of 36-3-5 record. This includes a 24-2-4 conference record, 5-0 in the playoffs, 2-0-1 at the University Cup and 5-1 in exhibition play. This is the fewest regulation losses they have ever had in a season. By comparison, they were 35-7-3 last season and 37-6-1-2 in 2016.

- Just a phenomenal accomplishment by this year's team given how much talent they lost after last season and how this was considered to be a "rebuilding" year. There is certainly lots to look forward to moving forward.

- The V-Reds have finished 3rd, 1st, 1st, and 2nd at their last four University Cup tournaments. They will be looking to medal for a 5th straight time next season when the tournament heads to Lethbridge, Alberta.

- In the Gold Medal game the St. FX X-Men let an early 2-0 lead get away from them in a 4-2 loss to the Alberta Golden Bears. Daniel Robertson and Michael Clarke scored for the X-Men in the first 8:52 of the game, but Alberta tied it up before the end of the period with goals from Stephane Legault and Luke Philp 39 seconds apart. Will Tomchuk's goal at 4:18 of the 2nd period proved to be the championship winner with Jamie Crook's empty netter with 1:28 left providing the insurance.

- This is Alberta's record 16th national title.

- Shots were 27-26 for the Golden Bears.

- The two goaltenders - Chase Marchand for the X-Men and Zach Shawchenko - were named the players of the game.

- St. FX went 1 for 6 on the power play, but failed to convert on a pair of 2nd period 5-on-3's. Alberta went 0 for 4.

- Attendance was a sell-out of 3374 although there were a noticeable number of empty seats visible. The actual attendance was probably closer to 2800-3000.

- St. FX is now 1-4 all-time in championship games. Alberta is 16-5.

- Only 6 months until the 2018-2019 season begins!

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Heartbreak On Home Ice

Adam Stevens’ goal with 47 seconds remaining in the first overtime period lifted the #5 seeded St. FX X-Men over the #1 seeded University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds 5-4 in an epic semi-final contest this afternoon at the University Cup, ending the Varsity Reds bid for a three-peat.

- Scoring for the Varsity Reds were Chris Caissy, Tyler Boland, Chris Clapperton, and Mark Simpson.

- The V-Reds went ahead 1-0 early in the game on Caissy's power play goal before giving up two quick ones shortly afterwards from Anthony Difruscia and Santino Centorame. Boland's power play goal late in the 1st period tied it at 2-2 after one period of play.

- After dominating the 2nd period Chris Clapperton finally broke through in the final minute with UNB's third power play goal of the game, giving the home side a 3-2 lead after 40 minutes.

- The X-Men capitalized on their own power play chances in the 3rd period, including a pair of 5-on-3's and a 5 minute major to Olivier LeBlanc, to grab a 4-3 lead. Scoring for St. FX were Holden Cook and Cole MacDonald. Mark Simpson provided the equalizer when he banged in a rebound from the doorstep with just over five minutes remaining in regulation. This set the stage for an overtime period that saw the V-Reds generate the majority of quality scoring chances until the X-Men capitalized on a scramble in front of Alex Dubeau.

- Shots in the game were 46-29 for UNB.

- St. FX went 3 for 7 on the power play. The Varsity Reds were 3 for 6.

- Steven and Clapperton were the player's of the game.

- Attendance was a sell-out of 3374.

- This is the second time St. FX has dashed the V-Reds title hopes in overtime at the AUC. They won their lone title in 2004 with a 3-2 double overtime victory over UNB.

- The X-Men will now move on to face the winner of #2 Alberta and #6 Saskatchewan, which gets underway at 4PM, in tomorrow’s gold medal game. UNB will face the loser of that game in the bronze medal game.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Huskies Top Redmen

The #6 seeded Saskatchewan Huskies secured the last semi-final berth at the 2018 University Cup after getting past the #3 McGill Redmen 4-1 in a physical, hard-hitting affair tonight at the AUC.

The Huskies received goals from Michael Sofillas - on a tap-in at the side of the net 5-on-3 power play at 12:42 of the 1st period - and Connor Cox - from a sharp angle 1:03 into the 2nd period. The Redmen got back into it with a power play goal from Antoine Dufort-Plante on a goalmouth scramble at 17:37 of the 2nd period, setting up an exciting finish. However, the Huskies got a big insurance goal from Carson Stadnyk at 9:58 of the 3rd period and salted the game away with a Kohl Bauml empty netter with 65 seconds remaining.

- Shots in the game were 34-33 for McGill.

- Each team scored a power play goal. The Huskies had 4 opportunities to the Redmen's 5.

- There were a combined 84 penalty minutes in the game. This included 5 10-minute misconducts, all of which were handed out in the 3rd period.

- Both goalies earned player of the game awards. Taran Kozun - who is filling in for two-time U Sports Goaltender of the Year Jordon Cooke, who is injured - for the Huskies and Louis-Philip Guindon for the Redmen.

- Attendance was 2739.

- McGill's loss ends another disappointing showing from OUA teams at the University Cup. They have now gone 0-3 at each of the last three tournaments. Their last win came in 2015 when UQTR rallied for a 6-5 overtime win against Acadia.

- This is the 3rd straight year Saskatchewan will be playing in the semi-finals. They fell in an epic triple overtime game to St. FX in 2016 and of course lost 5-3 in the University Cup final to UNB last year.

- The Golden Bears beat the Huskies 5-2 and 5-1 on home ice to sweep the best 2-of-3 Canada West Final earlier this month. Unlike the AUS and OUA playoffs, in Canada West every game of a series is played at the home of the lower seeded team.

- Alberta won the season series against Saskwatchewan as well, winning 3 out of the 4 games.

- Tomorrow's semi-finals are now set and they not only feature a pair of regional rivalries, but also rematches from the conference finals. At 12PM it will be the UNB Varsity Reds versus the St. FX X-Men and then at 4PM Fredericton fans will get to see arguably the only rivalry in the country that is more heated when the Alberta Golden Bears face the Saskatchewan Huskies. Both games will be broadcast on Sportsnet 360.

UNB vs. St. FX: Preview, Prediction, Poll

The heated rivalry between the University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds and St. FX X-Men will add yet another chapter tomorrow afternoon when the two battle in the national semi-final. Game time is 12PM and if you can't make it to the rink the game will be broadcast live on Sportsnet 360.

The stakes are clear for both teams. For the Varsity Reds - they are looking to make it to the University Cup final for a fourth consecutive season. For the X-Men - they are looking to rebound from last week's 2-0 series loss to the V-Reds in the AUS Final and do what UNB has done the last two year's, which is to make the final as the AUS runner-up.

The two teams have met twice previously at the University Cup, but this is the first time they will play prior to the final. Each team has won once and that win came in enemy territory. In 2004 St. FX stunned a sold out AUC crowd with a 3-2 double overtime win to capture their first ever national championship. In 2016 the Varsity Reds returned the favour when they emerged victorious 3-1 before a huge crowd in Halifax.

This is the 3rd straight year the Varsity Reds will be facing a fellow AUS team in the semi-finals. Much like 2016 against Saint Mary's and last year against Acadia, at this point there probably isn't too much each side doesn't know about the other. For UNB they will look to replicate what made them successful in the AUS Final, namely getting a lead, crashing the net and getting some ugly goals, executing on special teams, playing a solid three zone game, and getting strong goaltending. For the X-Men, it is much the same. Although they struggled in the AUS Final, one has to expect that they will be better in all facets of the game tomorrow with a trip to the University Cup final on the line. They will need Chase Marchand to be on his game as he will no doubt face a lot of rubber. They lived and died with his performance as well as that of their special teams all year. If both are in top form they will be tough to beat. Not to mention they should have the confidence of being the only opposing team to win in the AUC in the last two years.

Although the Varsity Reds will probably hold a significant advantage in shots on goal, expect a tight game that could go down as a classic when it is all said and done. At the end of the day, I believe the Varsity Reds are just a touch better than the X-Men this year. If this game was played in Nova Scotia it might be different, but the home-ice advantage will be just enough to give UNB a one or two goal game that will come right down to the wire.

Your turn - Who wins tomorrow's semi-final?

UNB or St. FX?

Varsity Reds
Created with PollMaker

Golden Bears Exact Revenge Against Axemen

The #2 seeded Alberta Golden Bears entered the 2018 University Cup as one of the favourites and they looked every bit the part this afternoon, at least for the first 50 minutes of the game. The Bears raced out to an 8-2 lead only to watch the Axemen score four times in the latter half of the 3rd period to make the final score a more respectable 8-6. The win avenges last year's 4-1 quarter-final loss and, more importantly, moves Alberta into the semi-finals for the first time in three years.

A pair of Riley Kieser goals - one just 13 seconds into the game and another at 13:16 - gave the Golden Bears an early 2-0 lead. Kyle Farrell responded for the Axemen just 16 seconds later to make it 2-1, which is how it would stay until the intermission.

A slew-footing penalty late in the 1st period put Alberta on a five minute power play and they finally connected 3:12 into the 2nd period courtesy Canada West MVP Luke Philp. That opened the floodgates a bit as the Golden Bears added another pair in short order - first by Cole Sanford at 5:26 and then a power play goal at 9:22. A Remy Giftopoulos power play goal at 15:46 cut the deficit to 5-2 before the end of the period.

The 3rd period was a wild one. Alberta again showed their quick-strike ability with goals from Trevor Cox at 2:31, Jamie Crooks on the power play at 4:31, and U Sports Defenceman of the Year Jason Fram at 6:46 to make it 8-2. To their credit, the Axemen did not quit. Cristiano Digiacinto scored at 11:56 and then they added three more in the final 63 seconds - from Chance Braid at 18:57, Boston Leier at 19:20, and Geoff Schemitsch at 19:43 - to turn what was a blowout to a final score that was much more indicative of the play.

- Shots in the game were 38-29 for Alberta.

- Alberta was without one of their regular forwards in Brandon Magee. Magee, who put up 24 points in 25 regular season games this season, was serving a suspension that carried over from the Canada West final.

- Kieser and Schemitsch were named their team's player of the game.

- Robert Steeves stopped 24 out of 32 shots before giving away to Dawson Carty for the final 13 minutes. Carty stopped all 6 shots sent his way. At the other end, Brendan Burke - son of former NHLer Sean Burke - made 23 saves on 29 shots.

- Acadia was 1 for 4 on the power play while Alberta connected 3 times on 4 tries.

- Attendance was 3063.

- The loss ended a run of 8 straight wins by AUS teams in quarter-final play at the University Cup. UNB, St. FX, and Saint Mary's all won their games in 2016, UNB, St. FX, and Acadia were victorious last season, and UNB and St. FX won yesterday.

- The Golden Bears move on to face the winner of tonight's game between the #3 McGill Redmen and #6 Saskatchewan Huskies in tomorrow afternoon's 4PM semi-final, which will be broadcast live on Sportsnet 360.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

V-Reds Demolish Stingers

The hallmark for the #1 seeded University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds all season has been their ability to get contributions from up and down the line-up. That was on full display tonight in their opening game of the 2018 University Cup, receiving goals from seven different players in a 8-1 dismantling of the #8 seeded Concordia Stingers. The win sets up a semi-final showdown versus rival St. FX at 12PM on Saturday.

After a fairly even opening handful of minutes, the Varsity Reds opened the scoring at the 9:00 mark of the 1st period when Chris Clapperton (Simpson, Murphy) jammed the puck in from the side of the net. Mark Simpson doubled the lead 2:46 later after he stripped the puck from a Stingers defenceman as he attempted to exit his own zone. Simpson turned back, took a few strides, and beat Marc-Antoine Turcotte with a shot just inside the far post. As the period wore on the V-Reds started to exert their dominance and were rewarded with another marker with 30 seconds remaining in the opening frame after Rnady Gazzola (Simpson, Bennett) let a loose a seeing-eye shot from the point that a eluded a screened Turcotte. UNB took the 3-0 lead into the intermission and held a 15-7 advantage in shots on goal.

The Varsity Reds were even more impressive in the 2nd period - out-shooting the Stingers 18-3 - but Turcotte stood on his head, answering every puck thrown his way to keep the deficit within somewhat striking distance after 40 minutes.

The 3rd period is when the wheels fell off for the Stingers. Due to an injury he suffered in the previous period, Turcotte was replaced by back-up Antoine Dagenais and it was is the Varsity Reds smelled blood in the water. To make matters worse, Dagenais' teammates didn't offer him much help when they took three penalties in a span of 1:13 early in the period. UNB connected not on one, not on two, but on all three opportunities to blow the game wide open. At 3:48 U Sports Rookie of the Year Kris Bennett (Boland, Gazzola) picked up a loose puck between Dagenais’ legs and knifed it in while on a 5-on-3 advantage. Then, after another Stingers penalty gave UNB a second two man advantage, Stephen Anderson (Clapperton, Bennett) flipped the puck up and in from in tight at 4:50. Matt Boudens (Goulet, Brace) capped the power play outburst 39 seconds later after driving the net and backhanding the puck in to make it a 6-0 game. The Stinger spoiled Alex Dubeau's shutout bid just 15 seconds later when newly-crowned U Sports Player of the Year Alexandre Beauregard deflecte a shot from the slot that beat Dubeau just under the crossbar. Goals from Alexandre Goulet (Caissy, Brace) - on a tap-in at 11:42 after Cameron Brace found him with a nice pass from behind the net - and Stephen Anderson - unassisted at 17:42 after stealing the puck from a defenceman and beating Dagenais with a deke on a breakaway - put the finishing touches on an impressive victory. Shots in the period were 19-7 for UNB.

- Peter Trainor and Oliver Cooper were both scratched.

- Shots in the game ended up 52-17.

- UNB's special teams picked right up from where they left off in the AUS Final. They went 3 for 7 on the power play and killed off all 7 of the Stingers chances.

- The Varsity Reds won 48 out of the 78 face-offs. Mark Simpson (16 out of 26), Dylan Willick (11 out of 18), and Alexandre Goulet (8 out of 13) all had strong nights at the dot.

- Simpson was an absolute beast tonight and was rewarded by being named the player of the game. Massimo Carozza picked up an assist on Beauregard's goal and took home the honour for the Stingers.

- Every member of the V-Reds registered a shot on goal.

- Attendance was a sell-out of 3374.

- The winner of the 50/50 took home over $3800.

- Beauregard’s goal snapped Alex Dubeau’s shutout streak at 129:19, dating back to Matt Needham’s 2nd period goal in game 1 of the AUS Final.
- UNB has outscored their opponents 29-8 thus far in 6 postseason games.

- The 8 goals scored are tied for the most by UNB in a University Cup game. They also did it 2013 against UQTR (8-3). The 7 goal margin of victory is their best ever.

- This is UNB's 7th consecutive University Cup victory since losing in the 2015 final to Alberta.

- Since losing 3-2 to Western at the 2012 University Cup, the Varsity Reds have steamrolled OUA opponents at the tournament. They have now reeled off 6 straight wins and have outscored the opposition 37-10.

- This is the 15th consecutive time UNB has won their opening game at the University Cup.

- The Varsity Reds will now have a day off before they renew their rivalry with the #5 St. FX X-Men in the semi-finals on Saturday at 12PM in what is sure to be a heated contest. The game will be broadcast live on Sportsnet 360.

- Tomorrow's action includes the #2 Alberta Golden Bears facing the #7 Acadia Axemen at 1PM and perhaps the most intriguing match-up, the #3 McGill Redmen tangling with the #6 Saskatchewan Huskies at 7PM. The two winners will face off in the other semi-final on Saturday, scheduled for 4PM.

X-Men Too Much For Badgers

The #5 seeded St. FX X-Men broke open a tie game with four unanswered goals over the final 25 minutes to pull away from the #4 seeded Brock Badgers in a 6-2 victory in the opening game of the 2018 University Cup this afternoon at the AUC.

The X-Men struck for a pair of goals in the early going - one from Holden Cook at 0:44 and another from Kristoff Kontos at 7:13 - and looked to be well on their way to blowing it open early. But the underdog Badgers battled back to tie the game before the end of the period on a power play goal from Braden Pears at 14:22 and a marker by Ayden MacDonald at 19:30.

With each team generating quality chances in the second period it was the X-Men who finally broke through when Michael Clarke gained control of a bouncing puck behind a Badgers defender and skated in all alone, beating Clint Windsor with a deke. St. FX took a 3-2 lead into the dressing room.

The 3rd period was all X-Men as they began to wear down the Badgers. Craig Dunnick's added some insurance with a power play goal at 5:04 and then Cook got his second of the afternoon just over two and a half minutes later to make it 5-2. Brock pulled their goalie with over four minutes remaining in hopes of pulling off a miracle, but Kontos added his second of the game with 10 seconds left to cap the scoring.

- Shots in the game were 38-25 for the X-Men.

- Brock was 1 for 3 on the power play. St. FX was 1 for 5.

- Michael Clarke (3 points) and Ayden MacDonald (1 goal) were named the player of the game for their respective teams.

- Attendance was 3176.

- After missing game 2 of the AUS Final, forward Matt Needham remained sidelined for the X-Men. His absence is a big one as he contributed 29 points in 29 games this season. There was some good news though with Holden Cook - who also missed game 2 against UNB - and defenceman Santino Centorame - who left early in game 2 - being back in their line-up.

- The X-Men now move on to Saturday's 12PM semi-final. They will face the winner of tonight's game between the #1 UNB Varsity Reds and #8 Concordia Stingers. Game time is 7PM and a very limited number of tickets remain.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Bennett, Gazzola Take Home Major Awards

Varsity Reds forward Kris Bennett and defenceman Randy Gazzola were both named recipients of U Sports major awards at the annual men's hockey Awards Gala earlier this evening at the Richard J. Currie Center on the campus of the University of New Brunswick.

After being awarded the AUS Rookie of the Year as well as being selected to the AUS all-rookie team earlier this month, Bennett replicated the feat on the national level. He was named the winner of the Clare Drake Award as the U Sports Rookie of the Year and earned a place on the U Sports all-rookie team. He joins defenceman Kevin Young (2003-2004) and Ryan Lindsay (1997-1998) as the only V-Reds to win the award.

Defenceman Randy Gazzola was named the winner of the R.W. Pugh Award as the nation's most sportsmanlike player. In 30 games this season the 4th year defender contributed 24 points, was a +13, and took only four minor penalties. He is only the second UNB player to earn this honour after Chris Culligan in 2014. Gazzola was also nominated for the Dr. Randy Gregg Award for outstanding community service, but lost out to Kendall McFaull of the Saskatchewan Huskies.

Here is the complete list of award winners and all-star teams:

Senator Joseph A. Sulivan Trophy (Player of the Year): Anthony Beauregard, Concordia
Dr. Randy Gregg Award (Student-Athlete Community Service): Kendall McFaull, Saskatchewan
Father George Kehoe Memorial Award (Coach of the Year): Kelly Nobes, McGill
R.W. Pugh Award (Most Sportsmanlike Player): Randy Gazzola, UNB
Clare Drake Award (Rookie of the Year): Kris Bennett, UNB
Defenceman of the Year: Jason Fram, Alberta
Goaltender of the Year: Chase Marchand, St. FX

First Team All-Canadians
F - Anthony Beauregard, Concordia
F - Hunter Garlent, Saint Mary's
F - Luke Philp, Alberta
D - Jason Fram, Alberta
D - Jagger Dirk, St. FX
G - Chase Marchand, St. FX

Second Team All-Canadians
F - Stephen Harper, Acadia
F - Matt Mistele, Ryerson
F - Joshua Roach, Saskatchewan
D - Alex Basso, Ryerson
D - Spencer Abraham, Queen's
G - Jordon Cooke, Saskatchewan

All-Rookie Team
F - Kris Bennett, UNB
F - Steven Owre, Alberta
F - Riley Brandt, RMC
D - Carl Neill, Concordia
D - Dylan DiPerna, Saint Mary's
G - Jordan Papirny, Calgary

UNB vs. Concordia: Preview, Prediction, Poll

The AUS Champion and #1 seeded University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds will begin their quest for a University Cup three-peat tomorrow night when they battle the OUA bronze medalists and #8 seeded Concrodia Stingers. Game time is 7PM.

The Stingers hovered just inside and outside of the top ten rankings for much of the year after putting together an 18-7-3 regular season and 6-3 playoff record, eventually falling to the OUA champion McGill Redmen 2 games to 1 in the OUA East final. They rebounded to defeat the York Lions 3-2 in the OUA Bronze Medal game to earn their first berth at the University Cup since 1983-1984.

The Stingers are primarily known for their offense as they tied for 5th (out of 35 teams) in the country with 3.93 goals per game and 8th with 34 shots per game. However, much like the Varsity Reds, their explosive offence did not translate to the power play as the Stingers only connected at a 16.3% clip during the regular season, good for 24th in the country.

Concordia is slightly above average when it comes to keeping the puck out of the net. They surrendered 2.93 goals per game (tied for 14th) and posted a save percentage of 0.910 (tied for 13th). Their penalty kill ranked only 19th at 81%, although they did strike for 5 shorthanded goal during the year. They also gave up an average of 32.5 shots per game, placing them in the lower half of all teams. By comparison, UNB gave up a U Sports-low of 20.9 shots per game.

Much like Queen's last year, it appears the Stingers rely heavily on 4-5 guys to do most of the heavy listing offensively. Unlike the Golden Gaels though, one of those guys is the nation's leading scorer. OUA East MVP and first team all-star Anthony Beauregard finished 2nd in the country in 19 goals and led everyone with 41 assists. His 60 points on the year lapped the field as they were 14 higher than anyone else. Other forwards to keep an eye on include all-rookie team member Massimo Carozza (15 goals, 20 assists), Philippe Sanche (15 goals, 22 points in 21 games), and former Saint John Sea Dog Scott Oke (20 points in 25 games).

Their offensive production from the back-end comes almost entirely from all-rookie team member Carl Neil, who posted 31 points (5 goals, 26 assist) in 28 games from the blue line. Matthieu Desautels (2 goals, 11 assists) was their only other defenceman to reach double-digit points.

In net, Marc-Antoine Turcotte has been their number one guy all year, playing over 90% of their minutes between the pipes. Turcotte had a solid season with 15 wins, a 2.71 goals against average, and 0.915 save percentage.

Some other fun facts about the Stingers:

- This is their 10th appearance a the University Cup. Interestingly, their previous 9 all came consecutively - from 1965 to 1984.

- They have never won a University Cup, finishing 2nd on two separate occasions.

- They are 9-12-2 all-time at the tournament, getting out-scored 94-77 in the process.

- UNB and Concordia have never met at the University Cup. They have previously played 7 exhibition games. After dropping the first two (14-0 in 1978 and 6-3 in 1985), UNB has won the last 5 match-ups. This includes a 4-2 win in Montreal in the fall of 2012 and 7-3 and 5-1 wins in the Pete Kelly Cup in January 2016.

- Dustin Kagan-Fleming of Concordia's The Link newspaper has a game preview.

The Stingers will offer an interesting match-up for UNB with their offensively-focused approach. Most AUS teams that find success against the V-Reds do it by getting out to a lead and then clamping down defensively, keeping the V-Reds attack primarily to the perimeter and limiting quality scoring chances. Very rarely does getting in to a back-and-forth, wide open style of game work for the opposition as the V-Reds can typically more than keep up offensively, but have the defence to limit the other team's shots on goal and possession.

Simply looking at the stats shows us that UNB scored more goals and took more shots on goal than Concordia while giving up fewer goals and significantly fewer shots. They had a slightly better power play, but hold a large advantage on the penalty killing side. We all saw in the AUS Final against St. FX how important special teams can be in game's like this. The one advantage the Stingers may have - at least judging from the regular season - is in goal. Turcotte's numbers were better than Alex Dubeau's, but this does not take into account the fact Dubeau played easily the best hockey of his UNB career during the playoffs.

Simply puy, this is a game UNB should win. A loss would be disastrous. While the Stingers may have the best player in the country in Beauregard, they do not have the depth up and down the line-up to match the V-Reds. If UNB can neutralize the Stingers top line, it could be a long night for Concordia. It should be noted that Beauregard only put up up a single goal to go along with 6 assists  in 7 games against McGill this season, so he may not find the same time and space against a similarly strong Varsity Reds defense that he is used to against some of the lesser OUA teams.

Another factor in play is that none of these Stingers have ever played at the University Cup before, let alone against the host team in what is sure to be a loud, sell-out crowd. By contrast, the V-Reds line-up is littered with guys who have won a National Championship, and some who have already played in 3 national finals. We have saw in the past how much playing in your first University Cup can impact your performance.

Of course in a single elimination tournament anything can happen. The opposing goalie might stand on his head, Dubeau might have an off-night, the V-Reds lack of discipline may finally catch up to them, their penalty kill may let them down etc., but ultimately, expect UNB's depth and relentless fore-check - aided by a hostile environment - to eventually wear down the Stingers and guide them to an opening game victory.

Now it's your turn, who do you think takes the quarter-final match-up?

Who wins?
UNB in a close one (1-2 goals)
UNB in a blowout (3+ goals)
Concordia in a close one (1-2 goals)
Concordia in a blow out (3+ goals)

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

News And Notes: Tickets, UCup Trophy, Preview, Dubeau, Willick, Awards Gala

A few notes of interest leading up to the 2018 University Cup:

- For those looking to purchase tickets to the UNB/Concordia game on Thursday night, there were fewer than 600 tickets remaining as of Tuesday morning.

- The University Cup trophy has been renamed in honour of former governor general David Johnston.

- U Sports men's hockey insider Victor Findlay has posted his University Cup preview. Findlay will also have the call all weekend long on Sportsnet along with Jason York and Nikki Reyes.

- Monty Mosher previews the three AUS entries taking part in this year's tournament.

- Goaltender Alex Dubeau has been named the Subway Atlantic University Sport male athlete of the week. The 3rd year netminder was the AUS playoff MVP after going 5-0 with a 0.940 save percentage. This included making a combined 38 saves in 6-3 and 5-0 victories over St. FX in the AUS Final.

- CBC talks to V-Reds captain Dylan Willick ahead of his final weekend of university hockey.

- CBC also caught up with Mike Thomas about playing in front of a home crowd as well as event co-ordinator Kate Morrison about preparing for this year's tournament.

- Just a reminder the U Sport's men's hockey awards gala takes place tomorrow night - Wednesday, March 14th - at 7:30PM at UNB's Richard J. Currie Center. The event will be headlined by Tara Slone of 'Rogers Hometown Hockey' and sports psychologist Dr. David Scott.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Single Game Tickets Now On Sale

We have encountered many people asking about the availability of single game tickets for the University Cup. They are now on sale at the AUC box office as well as online. The prices are as follows:

Thursday/Friday Quarter-Finals
Adult - $25
Senior - $20
Youth - $15

Saturday Semi-Finals/Sunday Bronze Medal Game
Adult - $30
Seniors - $25
Youth - $20

Sunday Gold Medal Game
Adult - $35
Seniors - $30
Youth - $25

Please note - Should UNB win their quarter-final game on Thursday night they will play in the 12PM semi-final on Saturday.

UNB At The University Cup

The University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds will open their 2018 University Cup on Thursday night at the AUC when they face the Conordia Stingers at 7PM. This will be their 17th appearance all-time at the tournament, including their 15th since 1997 and 12th under head coach Gardiner MacDougall.

Here is how they have fared at the previous 16 tournaments:

1964: 1-1 (Lost in semi-final)
1984: 0-2 (Lost in Atlantic regional)
1997: 1-1 (Lost in final)
1998: 3-0 (Won championship)
2000: 2-1 (Lost in final)
2003: 1-2 (Lost in semi-final + bronze medal game)
2004: 2-1 (Lost in final)
2007: 3-0 (Won championship)
2008: 2-1 (Lost in final)
2009: 3-0 (Won championship)
2011: 3-0 (Won championship)
2012: 1-1 (Lost in semi-final)
2013: 3-0 (Won championship)
2015: 2-1 (Lost in final)
2016: 3-0 (Won championship)
2017: 3-0 (Won championship)

Some notes of interest:

- UNB will be looking to become the first team to three-peat since the 1978-1980 Alberta Golden Bears.

- The V-Reds have also played in three consecutive finals and four out of the last five. The 1977-1980 Golden Bears are the last team to reach four consecutive finals.

- The Varsity Reds 7 championships and 12 championship games rank 3rd to Alberta (15 and 20) and Toronto (13 and 10) all-time.

- Their 5 championship game losses are tied with Alberta and Saint Mary's for 2nd most all-time. Saskatchewan holds the dubious distinction of losing 6 championship games.

- The V-Reds have won 6 titles and appeared in 8 title games in the last 11 years.

- They have appeared in the final in 9 out of their last 10 appearances at the tournament.

- UNB has a 0.750 winning percentage all-time at the University Cup. They are 33-11 in 44 career games, including an astounding 26-6 record under Gardiner MacDougall.

- This includes 18 wins in their last 20 games and 23 wins in their last 26 games.

- They have out-scored the opposition 176-107 in those games.

- UNB has recorded 7 shut-outs at the University Cup. They have never been shut-out.

- They are 6-2 all-time in games decided in overtime.

- This is the 5th time UNB will enter the tournament as the top seed. In the four previous instances they finished 1st (1998), 2nd (2008), 1st (2011), and 3rd (2012).

- They will have now been the top seed in three of the six tournaments they have hosted.

- In the previous five University Cups hosted by UNB they have finished 4th (2003), 2nd (2004), 1st (2011), 3rd (2012), and 1st (2017).

- The Varsity Reds will be playing the Concordia Stingers for the first time ever at the University Cup. Their all-time University Cup record against the other participants is 1-0 against Brock, 1-0 against McGill, 2-0 against Acadia, 4-5 against Alberta, 5-0 against Saskatchewan, and 1-1 against St. FX.

- Next season the University Cup will head out west for the first time since 2013-2014 when the Lethbridge Proghorns host for the first time. The following year it is back in the Maritimes with Acadia playing host to the 2020 tournament in Halifax. 

Sunday, March 11, 2018

University Cup Seeds, Schedule Announced

The University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds will have a target on their back as they look to capture their third consecutive University Cup. The two-time defending champions will open the tournament as the #1 seed and will face the #8 Concordia Stingers in their opening game on Thursday night, U Sports announced today.

Here is the full schedule:

Thursday, March 15th (Quarter-finals)
#4 Brock Badgers vs. #5 St. FX X-Men (1PM)
#1 UNB Varsity Reds vs. #8 Concordia Stingers (7PM)

Friday, March 16th (Quarter-finals)
#2 Alberta Golden Bears vs. #7 Acadia Axemen (1PM)
#3 McGill Redmen vs. #6 Saskatchewan Huskies (7PM)

Saturday, March 17th (Semi-finals)
Brock/St. FX winner vs. UNB/Concordia winner (12PM)
Alberta/Acadia winner vs. McGill/Saskatchewan winner (4PM)

Sunday, March 18th
Bronze Medal Game (12PM)
Gold Medal Game (2PM)

Much to our surprise, the committee decided to keep St. FX ranked ahead of Saskatchewan, which means the top two AUS teams (UNB and St. FX) as well as the top two Canada West teams (Alberta and Saskatchewan) find themselves on the same side of the bracket.

Predicting The Pools

With the McGill Redmen's convincing 5-1 victory over the cinderella Brock Badgers in last night's Queen's Cup, we now know the designation of each of the eight participants at this week's University Cup. With this we can try and predict exactly how the teams will be ranked heading into the tournament.

First, here are the eight teams:

UNB Varsity Reds (AUS Champion)
St. FX X-Men (AUS Finalist)
Acadia Axemen (AUS Bronze medal)
McGill Redmen (OUA Champion)
Brock Badgers (OUA Finalist)
Concordia Stingers (OUA Bronze medal)
Alberta Golden Bears (Canada West Champion)
Saskatchewan Huskies (Canada West Finalist)

Going step by step through section 4.2.2 (Seeding Criteria) of the U Sports men's hockey playing regulations we can attempt to put the participants in the proper order.

Here is what we think the final rankings will look like when they come out later today:

1) The three (3) Sport Conference champions will be seeded 1st, 2nd, and 3rd based on their respective team national ranking in the final Top Ten of the season. The last Top 10 ranking will be done after the Sport Conference playoffs are completed.

By virtue of being their respective conference champions, UNB, Alberta, and McGill must be ranked in the top 3. There will be one more top ten ranking done today, but if we look at last week UNB was ranked #1, Alberta #2, and McGill #4. With both UNB and Alberta sweeping their conference final in impressive fashion, there is no reason for the committee to adjust their rankings. McGilll will slide up from #4 to #3 as required.

So the top three should look like this:
1 - UNB
2 - Alberta
3 - McGill

2. The OUA finalist (either the OUA East or OUA West divisional champion) will be seeded #4.

This one is easy. The Brock Badgers lost in the OUA Final so they will go in as #4.

This now gives us:
1 - UNB
2 - Alberta
3 - McGill
4 - Brock

3. The remaining 4 qualifying teams will be seeded using the final Top Ten of the season as a guiding tool. 
4. Results of regional playoffs must be respected.
5. Once the seeding has been completed, teams 5 through 8 can be flipped no more than two spots (up or down) to try to avoid first round match-ups of teams from the same sport conference. (This means teams seeded 1 through 4 cannot be flipped). 

This is where the committee can start using their own discretion a bit, though the rule saying "results of regional playoffs must be respected" means that the conference finalists (St. FX and Saskactehwan) have to be seeded ahead of conference bronze medal winners (Acadia and Concordia). This mean St. FX and Saskactehwan must be seeded #5 and #6 in some order and Concordia and Acadia must be seeded #7 and #8 in some order.

We will tackle Concordia and Acadia first as that one is easy. Due to rule 5 stating the desire to avoid first round match-ups of teams from the same conference, we can guess that Acadia will be seeded #7 to avoid having to play UNB in the first round. This means Concordia will be #8.

The case of where to seed Saskatchewan and St. FX is a little trickier, and is perhaps the most debated we have seen in quite some time. On one hand St. FX was consistently ranked higher than Saskatchewan all season - including in last week's poll - and they both got swept in their conference final so there is not really a case for Saskatchewan to move ahead of the X-Men. This would mean St. FX goes in #5 and the Huskies #6. However, on the other hand, this puts each team in the same bracket as their conference champion (St. FX with #1 UNB and Saskatchewan with #2 Alberta). 

Although the rules state that the committee can move teams around to avoid first round match-ups of teams from the same conference, we believe they will look to do the same here for potential semi-final match-ups. This would also keep the top two teams from the AUS and Canada West on opposite sides of the draw. 

It will be interesting to see how the committee deals with this situation. While we would not be completely shocked if they put St. FX at #5 and Saskatchewan at #6 our best guess is that the final seedings will be as follows:

1 - UNB
2 - Alberta
3 - McGill
4 - Brock
5 - Saskatchewan
6 - St. FX
7 - Acadia
8 - Concordia

In terms of the schedule - 

6. The Host may flip the brackets to ensure a local team plays at a preferred time to assist with ticket sales. However, the structure of the brackets must be maintained (i.e. 1 vs. 8 and 4 vs. 5 must always stay together and 2 vs. 7 and 3 vs. 6 must stay together) so that common rest times are protected and the integrity of the draw is maintained.

The host gets to choose when they want to open the tournament and we know the #1 Varsity Reds will play their first game on Thursday night against the #8 Concordia Stingers. This means #4 Brock and #5 Saskatchewan will play Thursday afternoon as those four teams, being in the same bracket, all have to play on the same day.

This leaves #2 Alberta vs. #7 Acadia and #3 McGill vs. #6 St. FX playing on Friday in rematches from last year's tournament.