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.