Sunday, April 21, 2019

POLL: What Is The Best UNB Team Of All-Time?

April tends to be the slowest month of the university hockey calendar so we thought we would help pass the time with a question that has undoubtedly been argued amongst fans many times.

University of New Brunswick hockey fans have certainly been spoiled as they have had the pleasure of enjoying a number of high quality teams throughout the years. But what one is considered the best of all-time? It’s always complicated to compare teams that played in different eras due to such things as advancements in equipment, an increased focus on conditioning, and the higher quality of players in the league today compared to earlier years. Although it is likely a modern team would defeat a team from 20-30 years ago because of those reasons listed, essentially what we would like to know is what is the best UNB team ever assembled relative to the competition they faced that season.

Since it is such a tough question, we thought we would take the easy way out and leave it up to you, the fans, to decide.

Here are the nominees:


After a number of lean years throughout the 1960’s and 1970’s, Don MacAdam was appointed the UNB Red Devils head coach prior to the 1977 – 1978 season. The losing continued in his first two seasons with only seven wins in 40 games, but he then guided the team to a 51-44-3 mark over the next four years, which included three straight postseason appearances after a five year drought. This set the stage for the 1983 – 1984 season, which proved to be UNB’s most successful in years.

The team began its season by winning all seven of its pre-season games by multiple goals, including an 8-6 home win over Maine in the Black Bears first visit to the AUC.  They then posted a 19-5-0 regular season record that was later adjusted to 21-3-0 due to Saint Mary’s having to forfeit all of their wins because of an ineligible player, including two versus the Red Devils. The additional wins proved critical for UNB as it broke a first place tie with Moncton and gave the Red Devils the AUAA regular season title with 42 points to the Aigles Bleus 38. UNB out-scored their opponents 118-77 during the 24 game regular season schedule.

In the playoffs the top seeded Red Devils dispatched the fourth ranked Acadia Axemen (15-9-0) two games to one in the semi-finals and then swept Moncton (19-5-0) in two games in the AUAA Final for their first conference championship in 20 years.

Unfortunately, the dream season would end at the hands of the powerhouse Toronto Varsity Blues. The Blues were coming off of a 20-1-3 regular season and a 4-0 postseason and had been ranked as the #1 team in the country for the all but three weeks that season, but they had their hands full with the upstart Red Devils in the Eastern Canadian Regionals, held at the AUC . Toronto emerged with a close two game sweep – 3-2 and 5-2 – to advance to the University Cup, where they would go on to outscore UQTR and Concordia 23-5 over three games to win their 10th – and, to date, last – championship.

Although their season ended just short of the ultimate goal, the 1983 – 1984 team remains one of the most revered in school history as they helped bring UNB hockey back to prominence.

KEY STATS: 4.92 goals scored per game, 3.21 goals allowed per game

KEY PLAYERS: Mike Kelly (31 points), Mark Welton (25), Steve Adams (23), Mark Jeffrey (21), Dave Bluteau (21), Kevin Rochford (3.10 GAA)

TOP TEN RANKINGS: #4 (4 times), #5 (1 time), #6 (4 times), #7 (2 times)

FINAL RECORD: 32-6-0 = 7-0 Exhibition + 21-3-0 Regular Season (Pennant) + 4-1 Playoffs 
(AUAA Championship) + 0-2 Regionals


After the magical 1983 – 1984 run UNB endured another five year stretch of mediocrity. This changed under head coaches Mike Johnston and Danny Grant as the two guided the now-Varsity Reds to seven straight playoff appearances from 1990 and 1996. However, neither coach was able to get back to the University Cup. This changed when Mike Kelly took over the program before the 1996 – 1997 season. In his first season at the helm UNB made it all the way to the national championship final for the first time in school history, ultimately losing a tough 4-3 decision to the Guelph Gryphons despite holding a significant advantage in shots on goal. The bitter defeat provided motivation and meant the 1997 – 1998 edition entered the season on a mission.

Although the team lost their leading scorer from the previous season in Bill Wright (and their 4th leading scorer Toby Burkitt), the 1997 – 1998 squad was arguably the most offensively-gifted UNB team of all time. The addition of Ryan Lindsay and Ryan Burgoyne to go along with the returning Dax MacLean, Jeff Andrews, Jason Campbell, Peter MacKellar, Jason Campeau, and Daryl Rivers propelled the V-Reds to 167 goals scored during a 24-3-1 regular season, including 14 straight to kick off the season. They scored at least seven goals on 13 different occasions and were held below three goals only twice. The offensive juggernaut featured nine players who average more than a point per game and eight players who scored 10+ goals. Their defensive game wasn’t bad either as they only surrendered 68 goals thanks to the play of sophomore goaltender Ken Carroll.  The Varsity Reds finished the regular season 17 points clear of St. Thomas (14-10-4) to finish atop the MacAdam Division and ten points ahead of the St. FX X-Men (18-7-3) to capture the AUAA Pennant.  

Despite rolling through the regular season, the postseason proved to be a bit more difficult. The V-Reds found themselves behind the eight-ball almost immediately after getting blown out 9-4 at home in the opening game of their best-of-3 quarter-final series against the UPEI Panthers (11-14-3). However, they rebounded to win the last two games of that series by 4-2 and 5-4 counts and then swept STU in the MacAdam division final by the same two scores. They also dropped the first game of the AUAA final against Acadia (17-10-1) in Wolfville before taking game 2 and 3 at the AUC by identical 3-2 scores to capture their second consecutive conference title under Kelly.

At the University Cup in Saskatoon Ryan Burgoyne scored the OT winner to give the #1 ranked Varsity Reds an opening 3-2 win over Windsor. They then took down the Alberta Golden Bears 5-2 in the semi-final to get back to the championship final, where they met a familiar foe. In the title game, UNB once again got the best of the Axemen, defeating Acadia 6-3 for their first University Cup in school history.

KEY STATS: 5.96 goals per game, 2.39 goals allowed per game

KEY PLAYERS: AUS all-star Dax McLean (49 points), AUS all-star Jeff Andrews (48), Jason Campbell (43), Ryan Lindsay (36), Peter MacKellar (34), Jason Campeau (34), Ryan Burgoyne (32), AUS all-star Daryl Rivers (29), Bill Lang (26 in 10 games), AUS all-star Ken Carroll (2.38 GAA)

TOP TEN RANKINGS: #1 (17 times), #2 (1 time)

FINAL RECORD: 36-6-1 = 3-1 exhibition + 24-3-1 regular season (Pennant) + 6-2 playoffs (AUS Championship) + 3-0 University Cup (National Championship)


After guiding the Varsity Reds to their first University Cup championship, head coach Mike Kelly moved on and was replaced by Tom Coolen, who enjoyed two slightly above average regular seasons in addition to an AUS title and University Cup silver medal in 1999 – 2000. He was then replaced by Gardiner MacDougall in the summer of 2000 and, after a handful of 13-15 win regular seasons and another University Cup runner-up finish (in 2004), finally broke through in 2007, leading UNB to their second National Championship.

While the 2007 team started this current run of championships, it was the 2008 team that really took the program to the dominant level that they have maintained to this day. It all started with one of their most impactful recruiting classes ever as MacDougall brought in the likes of Hunter Tremblay, Kyle Bailey, Luke Gallant, Kevin Henderson, and Derek Yeomans to team with returning players Rob Hennigar, John-Scott Dickson, Lachlan MacIntosh, Dustin Friesen, and Michael Ouzas.

The 2007 – 2008 squad opened the pre-season in dominating fashion, reeling off six straight wins – including one over the New York Islanders rookies - in which they out-scored their opponents 38-8.  Their 10-2 exhibition record also featured wins over three NCAA teams - the University of New Hampshire, the University of Maine, and Union College.

Beginning the season as the #1 ranked team in the nation, the Varsity Reds never let go of the top spot all year. They set a new standard of regular season excellence in the AUS by going 26-1-1 with the only blemishes being a pair of losses to Moncton nine days apart at the end of the first half after an 11-0-0 start. A season after finishing in 2nd place to the Aigles Bleus, UNB claimed the AUS pennant by ten points over the Saint Mary’s Huskies, outscoring teams 136-59 in the process. This began a streak of 12 straight first place finishes that continues to this day.

The V-Reds entered the playoffs on a 16 game winning streak and kept it going with a three game sweep of the St. Thomas Tommies (11-11-6) in the semi-finals. They battled the 2nd place Saint Mary’s Huskies (20-5-3)  in a nail-biter of an AUS Final, winning the first game 3-2 on rookie Hunter Tremblay’s overtime goal and the second game by the same score thanks to a penalty shot goal by fellow freshman Kyle Bailey in double overtime. This gave UNB a two game sweep and their first AUS title in five years. The intensity of the series was further magnified due to the fact that only the winner would be moving on to the University Cup in Moncton.

At the University Cup, the top seeded V-Reds rolled over an upstart Brock Badgers team 6-1 in their opener. In the de-facto semi-final they defeated the Saskatchewan Huskies 4-0 for their 23rd straight win to earn a date with the Alberta Golden Bears. Despite setting a school-record with 43 victories, which still stands, the season would end one victory short as the Golden Bears survived a Tremblay blast off the post late in the game to squeak out a tight 3-2 win to capture the University Cup.  

KEY STATS: 4.86 goals per game, 2.11 goals allowed per game, 35.6 shots per game, 25.7 shots allowed per game, 29.1% power play, 87.1% penalty kill

KEY PLAYERS: CIS Player of the Year Rob Hennigar (58 points), AUS Rookie of the Year Hunter Tremblay (50), John-Scott Dickson (33), Lachlan MacIntosh (29), Kyle Bailey (28), Michael Ouzas (1.91 GAA)

TOP TEN RANKINGS: #1 (15 times)

FINAL RECORD: 43-4-1 = 10-2-0 exhibition + 26-1-1 regular season (Pennant) + 5-0 playoffs (AUS Championship) + 2-1 University Cup


The Varsity Reds rebounded from the disappointment of losing in the 2008 University Cup final to win their 3rd championship the next year in Thunder Bay with a 4-2 win against the Western Mustangs. They not only entered the 2009 – 2010 season as defending champions, but they also brought in a loaded recruiting class that included Chris Culligan as well as former NHL Draft picks Ben Shutron, Josh Kidd, Ben Wright, and Matt Fillier. They also got the services of Daine Todd for a full year after he missed his entire rookie season due to injury. These players combined with established stars such as Hunter Tremblay, John-Scott Dickson, Luke Gallant, and Kyle Bailey to, once again, produce a record-setting regular season.

They began the year with five straight pre-season victories before dropping a 4-2 decision to the AHL’s Portland Pirates by a 4-2 score. They rebounded to defeat a trio of NCAA teams on the road to post an 8-1 pre-season record.

Of course, we all know how the regular season went. The V-Reds opened the season with a 10-0 win over UPEI and that proved to be a harbinger of things to come as they rattled off 26 straight wins to open the season – half of which came by more than three goals – before coughing up a 3-0 lead at home to St. FX to lose 4-3 in the penultimate game of the regular season. They ended the year with a near-perfect 27-1-0 record, which put them 13 points clear of the 2nd place Acadia Axemen. They out-scored the opposition 143-56 during the regular season, including 82-28 in the first half of the season when they were firing on all cylinders. Remarkably, they nearly scored as many goals while shorthanded (8) as the opposition scored on the power play (12). Their average of 5.11 goals per game is a number that they have yet to achieve since.  

However, all the regular season success was for naught and everything came crashing down in the playoffs against an 11-12-5 St. FX team. UNB dropped three consecutive 3-2 decisions – including a game 2 loss that saw the V-Reds out-shoot the X-Men 31-6 – in one of the biggest playoff upsets in recent memory. As a result, UNB fell to #2 in the final top ten poll of the season after spending the first 15 weeks at #1 and would miss the University Cup for the first time in four seasons.

Although the lack of playoff success is a huge knock on their claim as the best UNB team of all-time and, unfairly or not, is probably what this team is most remembered for, it shouldn’t take away from the fact that the 2009 - 2010 edition of the V-Reds were an absolute buzz-saw for the first five months of the season. So much so that it could be argued that they were the best UNB team of all-time despite never winning a single postseason game. 

KEY STATS: 5.11 goals per game, 2.00 goals allowed per game, 37.4 shots per game, 22.9 shots allowed per game, 26.6% power play, 91.5% penalty kill

KEY PLAYERS: CIS Player of the Year Hunter Tremblay (57 points), John-Scott Dickson (40), Luke Gallant (36), AUS all-rookie team member Chris Culligan (32), CIS Godfrey Award winner Kyle Bailey (31), Daine Todd (28), CIS all-rookie team member Ben Shutron (27).

TOP TEN RANKINGS: #1 (15 times), #2 (1 time)

FINAL RECORD: 37-6-0 = 10-2-0 exhibition + 27-1-0 regular season (Pennant) + 0-3 playoffs


Just like the 1997 – 1998 team was looking to take care of some unfinished business from the year prior, the 2010 – 2011 squad was in a similar situation. They knew they would be in the University Cup as the tournament was back in Fredericton for the first time since 2004 but, given how the 2009 – 2010 season ended, there was no doubt they wanted to earn their spot. They only lost one key player from their record-breaking regular season team in power forward John-Scott Dickson, replacing him with an almost identical player in Nick MacNeil. With veterans Hunter Tremblay, Chris Culligan, Kyle Bailey, Jonathan Harty, and Travis Fullerton back in the fold, the team was destined to make up for the disappointing end to the previous season.  

This was evident in the pre-season as the team ripped through their eight game exhibition schedule undefeated. This included an impressive three game western roadtrip in which they out-scored Calgary and Alberta by a combined 22-5 score, a 10-3 win over Saint Mary’s in the now-defunct Fall Classic, and three road wins against NCAA competition.

Despite one of their best pre-seasons ever, the V-Reds stumbled a bit in the first half, only going 11-4 before Christmas, which caused them to alternate between #2 and #3 in the top ten rankings. However, a 7-1 rout of the 3rd ranked McGill Redmen, as well as a two game split against Providence College, over the holiday break propelled UNB. They began the second half of their schedule with back to back shut-outs and it would prove to be a sign of things to come. Unlike most years where the V-Reds would dazzle with offense, the success of the 2010 – 2011 team was predicated on defense and goaltending. They out-scored their opposition by a 114-43 count and only surrendered 16 goals in going 12-1 to close out the regular season. They finished with a 23-5-0 mark, nine points clear of the second place Saint Mary’s Huskies.  After claiming the #1 ranking on January 11th they held it for the final 11 polls of the season.

The playoffs began with a three games to one victory over Acadia (14-11-3) in a series that featured the longest game in CIS history – a 3-2 quadruple overtime win in game 2. This set-up a playoff rematch with rival St. FX in the AUS Final and it produced an epic, back and forth, five game tilt that finally ended with Kyle Bailey’s overtime winner in front of a sold-out AUC crowd.

At the University Cup, the top ranked Varsity Reds continued to play stifling defence as they limited their opponents to a single goal, which game in their opening game – a tighter-than-expected 2-1 win against Calgary that was won on a Josh Kidd point shot with 4.1 seconds remaining. Travis Fullerton would shut the door the rest of the way, posting identical 4-0 wins over Western and then #2 ranked McGill in the gold medal game to not only give UNB its 4th title – and first on home ice – but also to complete a season of redemption. Their 42 wins on the season are second only to the 2007 – 2008 team for the most in program history.

KEY STATS: 4.07 goals per game, 1.54 goals allowed per game, 36.8 shots per game, 21.9 shots allowed per game, 18.7% power play, 90.5% penalty kill

KEY PLAYERS: AUS scoring leader Hunter Tremblay (44 points), Chris Culligan (38), Kyle Bailey (29), Lachlan MacIntosh (20), University Cup MVP Luke Gallant (15 in 19 games), Travis Fullerton (1.60 GAA, 9 total shutouts), Derek Yeomans (1.26 GAA)

TOP TEN RANKINGS: #1 (11 times), #2 (2 times), #3 (6 times)

FINAL RECORD: 42-9-0 = 10-1 exhibition + 23-5-0 regular season (Pennant) + 6-3 playoffs (AUS Championship) + 3-0 University Cup (National Championship)


Coming off of their 6th National Championship, the UNB Varsity Reds entered the 2016 – 2017 season looking to do something that they had never done before – repeat – and expectations were high. Once again, the University Cup was being held in Fredericton and UNB was returning an experienced team that featured two of the most decorated players in their history in eventual U Sports Player of the Year Philippe Maillet and two-time U Sports Defenceman of the Year Jordan Murray – as well as established stars Cam Braes, Stephen Anderson, Randy Gazzola, Philippe Halley, Matt Petgrave, and Etienne Marcoux. They brought in three new additions – power forward Oliver Cooper, face-off and two-way ace Mark Simpson, and puck-moving defenceman Matt Murphy – to replace the similarly graduating styles of Tyler Carroll, Taylor MacDougall, and Alex Wall.  

This was the first year that featured a 30 game regular season schedule and six game exhibition schedule. They split their four pre-season games – shutouts against UPEI at home and in Montreal against McGill, but losses to a pair of NCAA opponents – before opening the season 12-0-2.  This included a dominant three week stretch beginning in late October which saw them reel off seven consecutive wins by a combined score of 43-8. They suffered consecutive one goal regulation losses in late November to Acadia and Saint Mary’s, but those were their only two regulation time setbacks until the postseason.  Including two exhibition wins over eventual University Cup participant York, the V-Reds went 15-0-1 to close out the season to wrap up a 4-2-0 exhibition schedule and a 25-2-3 regular season. This left them 11 points clear of Acadia for their 10th straight AUS pennant. During the regular season they out-scored teams 148-61. They were particularly dangerous on the power play, converting 51 times with the man advantage. They were especially dominant on home-ice, going 18-0-0 and out-scoring teams 99-24 at the AUC up to this point.

The playoffs saw UNB extend their home-winning streak to 20 with a pair of four goal wins over Saint Mary’s (15-14-1) to begin the best-of-5 semi-finals. A 3-2 loss in game 3 was their first in regulation time in three months, but they rebounded and closed out the series with a 2-1 win the next night. However, for a second straight year they hit a speed bump against St. FX (16-12-2) in the AUS Final, losing in two straight to the X-Men. This included a 2-1 loss at home in game 1, which would turn out to be their only loss at the Aitken Centre in 24 games that season. After being ranked the number one team in the country for all but one week, the V-Reds fell to #3 following their loss to St. FX.

The V-Reds entered the University Cup as the 5th seed, but it hardly mattered as they had everything clicking in front of the hometown crowd that weekend. They easily disposed of #4 Queen’s 5-1 thanks to a Philippe Maillet hat-trick, shut-out conference rival Acadia – who had upset #1 Alberta earlier in the tournament – 3-0 in the semi-finals, and then got an all-time performance from Cam Braes in the gold medal game as the 5th year forward scored four goals in his final university game – a 5-3 win over #3 Saskatchewan to give UNB a second consecutive championship for the first time ever.

KEY STATS: 4.93 goals per game, 2.03 goals allowed per game, 38.2 shots per game, 19.3 shots allowed per game (their lowest ever), 26.6% power play, 89.3% penalty kill

KEY PLAYERS: U Sports Player of the Year and University Cup MVP Philippe Maillet (55 points), Cam Braes (42), U Sports Defenceman of the Year Jordan Murray (40), Stephen Anderson (25), Chris Clapperton (24), Rob Mignardi (24), Etienne Marcoux (1.59 GAA)

TOP TEN RANKINGS: #1 (17 times), #2 (1 time), #3 (1 time).

FINAL RECORD: 35-7-3 = 4-2 exhibition + 25-2-3 regular season (Pennant) + 3-3 playoffs + 3-0 University Cup (National Championship)


With a number of veteran players moving on following the 2016 – 2017 championship season, the 2017 – 2018 team fell just short in their bid to three-peat, but the season proved critical as a new core began to emerge. As the 2018 – 2019 season dawned UNB was relying on younger players such as Kris Bennett, Tyler Boland, Matt Murphy, and Olivier LeBlanc to take the next step and compliment veterans such as Chris Clapperton, Stephen Anderson, Cameron Brace, Mark Simpson, and Randy Gazzola. While the team lost some grit and toughness in Dylan Willick, Mike Thomas, and Trey Lewis head coach Gardiner MacDougall opted against the familiar strategy of replacing graduating players with those with similar skill-sets. Instead, he brought in more skill-oriented players such as Mark Rassell, Matthew Boucher, Samuel Dove-McFalls, and Joe Gatenby to give UNB as deep a line-up as they have ever had.

The new strategy seemed to pay off immediately. After going 3-1 during the pre-season, the Reds went 15-0-3 prior to the Christmas break, scoring 5+ goals in eight of their last nine games. This was followed by a convincing 8-3 win over University Cup hosts Lethbridge over the holiday break and then three more wins to begin the second half, improving their regular season record to 18-0-3, which marked their second best start to a season ever. The streak would end with a 4-2 loss at St. FX. They then suffered another loss in Antigonish two weeks later, but those were the only blemishes on an otherwise outstanding 25-2-3 regular season, which paced the conference by 13 points. They out-scored teams by an impressive 150-59 margin in the regular season. Once again, they were particularly dominant on home-ice, with an 84-23 goal differential. The Reds began the year by being ranked #1 for 12 straight polls, but the two late season losses pushed them to #2, where they would stay for the remaining seven polls.

After a pair of scares in their first two AUS playoff games – 3-1 and 2-1 in overtime against the UPEI Panthers (15-14-1) – the Reds found another gear. They wrapped up a three game sweep against the Panthers with a 5-0 road win and then blasted the St. FX X-Men (15-13-2) 5-1 at home and 7-1 on the road to clinch their second AUS Championship sweep in as many years against St. FX. 

At the University Cup in Lethbridge, the #2 ranked Reds’ closest game was their opening one as they survived a scare from the Carleton Ravens to prevail with a 2-1 win that was made possible by some great goaltending from tournament MVP Alex Dubeau. UNB was clicking on all cylinders in their semi-final game against St. FX, exploding for an emphatic 9-1 win that erased the heartbreaking defeat the X-Men handed the Reds the previous year and set-up a showdown with the top seeded Alberta Golden Bears, who were the only other team to be ranked #1 all season. It was a true “battle of the heavyweights” and, after coming up empty in three prior gold medal games versus the juggernaut Bears, the Reds finally got over the hump, claiming their 8th National Championship by a 4-2 final. The win also wrapped up an undefeated postseason for the Reds, something they had never done before.

KEY STATS: 5.00 goals per game, 1.97 goals allowed per game, 43.2 shots per game (their most ever), 22.0 shots allowed per game, 25.3% power play, 89.7% penalty kill

KEY PLAYERS: AUS MVP Chris Clapperton (47 points), Tyler Boland (38), AUS Playoff MVP Kris Bennett (35), Stephen Anderson (33), AUS all-rookie team member Mark Rassell (29), U Sports all-rookie team member Matthew Boucher (28), U Sports Top Student-Athlete Randy Gazzola (20), University Cup MVP Alex Dubeau (1.97 GAA)

TOP TEN RANKINGS: #1 (13 times), #2 (7 times)

FINAL RECORD: 37-4-3 = 4-2 exhibition + 25-2-3 regular season (Pennant) + 5-0 playoffs (AUS Championship) + 3-0 University Cup (National Championship)


What Is the Best UNB Team Of All-Time?

1983 - 1984
1997 - 1998
2007 - 2008
2009 - 2010
2010 - 2011
2016 - 2017
2018 - 2019

(SPECIAL THANKS TO ERIC DRUMMIE AND HIS INDISPENSABLE RESOURCES - VREDSHOCKEY.COM, ReDSea, and U Sports Top Ten Repository)  

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

News And Notes: Clapperton, Gazzola, Boucher, MacDougall, McEwan

- The UNB Reds held their annual Awards Gala last night and four members of the men's hockey team took home hardware. Among those honoured were Chris Clapperton (James Downey Shield as the male Athlete of the Year + men's hockey MVP), Randy Gazzola (Garnet Copeland Award as the top all-around student-athlete + men's hockey Red & Black award), Matthew Boucher (men's hockey Rookie of the Year), and Gardiner MacDougall (Dean's Award for Coach of the Year).

- Ian Kennedy of the Chatham-Kent Sports Network talks with freshman forward James McEwan about the experience of winning a University Cup in his rookie year as well as his expectations for next season.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

News And Notes: Parenteau, Boudens, MacDougall, Hunter

- Lucas Punkari of the Prince Albert Daily Herald talks with Reds netminder Rylan Parenteau about UNB's recent University Cup victory.

- In his final Tuesday Morning Skate podcast of the season, Victor Findlay interviews Matt Boudens.

- Jason Simmonds of the Journal Pioneer asks head coach Gardiner MacDougall - who was in Charlottetown less than a week after winning his 7th national championship to watch a QMJHL playoff game - about his winning formula.

- The Amherst News' Dave Mathieson talks with the team's video coach Jordan Hunter about his role with the team. Interestingly, Hunter notes that the Reds were the first U Sports team in the country to adopt in game video review on the bench.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

ECHL's Walleye Ink Gazzola

EDIT: Toledo has released a short write-up on Gazzola's addition for the remainder of the season.

Graduating defenceman Randy Gazzola has agreed to a deal with the Toledo Walleye, the ECHL affiliate of the Detroit Red Wings.

Gazzola just capped his fifth and final season with UNB by winning a third AUS and University Cup title. He was also named the winner of the prestigious Dr. Randy Gregg Award, which is given annually to the U Sports student-athlete who exhibits outstanding community service.

The Thorold, Ontario native finishes his university career with 105 points (19 goals, 86 assists) in 134 regular season games, 19 points (2 goals, 17 assists) in 26 playoff games, and 12 points (1 goal, 11 assists) in 15 University Cup games. His 28 career postseason assists are the second most in UNB history while his 15 career University Cup games are tied for the most.

Gazzola will be joining a quality team in Toledo as the Walleye are currently 6th in the ECHL with a 36-20-9 record on the season.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

News Articles: Gazzola, Boland, Rassell

A trio of articles profiling Reds players have been published in the wake of the teams University Cup championship. These include the following:

- "Gazzola receives highest university sports honour" by Bob Liddycoat of the Thorold News.

- "Boland uncovers hockey's 'best-kept secret'" by Robin Short of The Telegram

- "Rassell excited to win championship" by Ryan McCracken of the Medicine Hat News

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Clapperton Inks AHL Deal

Reds forward and AUS MVP Christopher Clapperton has agreed to terms on a one year, one-way, contract with the Belleville Senators, the American Hockey League affiliate of the Ottawa Senators, the team announced today. 

In addition, the Senators have signed the 5'9", 174 pound winger to an amateur tryout agreement for the remainder of this season. 

A former 5th round draft pick of the Florida Panthers, Clapperton enjoyed the best season of his UNB career this season, leading the league in scoring with 14 goals and 33 assists to claim MVP honours. 

Over his three and a half years at UNB, the native of Cap d'Espoir, Quebec posted 118 points (45 goals, 73 assists) in 86 regular season games, tied for the 18th most in school history. He added another 16 points in 20 AUS playoff games and 12 points in 12 University Cup games (tied for 4th most in UNB history). Overall, his 146 career points are tied for 14th all-time in school history. 

Since Clapperton's arrival on campus during the Christmas break in 2014-2015, UNB has enjoyed a 129-17-10 overall record, winning two AUS championships and three University Cup in the process. 

Clapperton will be joining a Senators team that also features former teammate Jordan Murray (24 points in 46 games this season) and ex-Acadia Axemen forward Boston Leier (6 points in 33 games).

Dubeau Signs With Komets

University Cup MVP Alex Dubeau has signed a professional contract with the Fort Wayne Komets, the ECHL affiliate of the Vegas Golden Knights, for the rest of the season.

Dubeau is coming off of arguably the best stretch of hockey of his university career as he went a perfect 8-0 in the AUS playoffs and University Cup while surrendering a paltry eight goals in that span.

The former Moncton Wildcat concludes his UNB career with two AUS titles and three University Cup championships. He went 46-5-10 in regular season play to go along with a 2.22 goals against average and 0.902 save percentage. He was 15-1 in postseason play for a combined record of 61-6-10 during his four years in Fredericton.

He will join former St. Thomas Tommies and UPEI Panthers forward J.C. Campagna with the Komets. Campagna is currently second in the league with 33 goals for a Komets squad that is 31-21-9 on the season.

The Reds will now be in the market for a goaltender this summer to pair with Rylan Parenteau.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Dubeau Sweeps Weekly Awards

What does a 3-0 record, 1.33 goals against average, and 0.948 save percentage during the University Cup get you? First, a 3rd championship in four years. Second, a tournament MVP. Lastly, a whole lot of athlete of the week awards.

Reds goaltender Alex Dubeau's stellar weekend, in which he stopped 73 out of 77 shots to lead UNB to another University Cup title, has earned him the UNB Reds/Papa John's Pizza male athlete of the week, the Subway AUS male athlete of the week, and U Sports male athlete of the week.

The native of Mascouche, Quebec was the difference maker in Friday afternoon's 2-1 win over the Carleton Raves, making a number of larcenous stops among the 22 saves he made. He was named the player of the game for his efforts. On Saturday night the Reds offense did most of the heavy lifting, but Dubeau did his part as well, stopping 19 out of the 20 shots St. FX sent his way in a 9-1 rout of the X-Men. He capped his incredible tournament on Sunday night in the gold medal game against the powerful Alberta Golden Bears, turning aside 32 out of 34 shots in a 4-2 victory.

Dubeau finished the postseason with a perfect 8-0 record and is 15-1 in his career in AUS playoff and University Cup games.

Monday, March 18, 2019

REDS ARE CHAMPIONS ONCE AGAIN!

(Photo Credit - UNB Athletics Twitter)

There will be another National Championship banner to hang from the rafters of the Aitken Centre in September. The University of New Brunswick Reds capped a memorable season by defeating the defending champion Alberta Golden Bears 4-2 in a heavyweight match-up tonight in Lethbridge to capture their 8th University Cup in school history - and their 3rd in four years.

The Reds came out strong and dictated play for the majority of the game's opening minutes, but the Golden Bears got a power play - which would be the theme of the opening period - at 3:53 and they only took 40 seconds to strike with Brandon Magee finding Steven Owre all alone at the backdoor for a shot into a gaping cage that Alex Dubeau had no chance on. It was Alberta's first shot of the game. The Reds quickly responded, however, when Mark Rassell intercepted a break out pass just inside the Bears blue-line and fed Samuel Dove-McFalls down low. The rookie forward made a quick deke and slid the puck between Zach Sawchenko's pads to knot the game at one. The Bears suffered a huge blow mid-way through the period when U Sports player of the year Luke Philp crashed hard into the boards and left the game without putting any pressure on his left leg. He would not return and his absence was immediately felt as the Reds were assessed eight minutes of penalties - including a controversial double minor for high-sticking - in just under five minutes late in the period, giving the lethal Golden Bears power play a golden opportunity to take the lead. The Reds penalty kill was put to the test and they rose to the occasion just like they have so many times this season. Although Alberta generated a number of shots on goal, they could not solve Dubeau and the game remained 1-1 through twenty minutes. UNB out-shot Alberta 16-12 in an exciting opening period.

Each team came up empty on abbreviated power plays early in the second period and the game would remain deadlocked until late in the frame. At 14:27 Matthew Boucher and Oliver Cooper did some good, hard work behind the Golden Bears net, which resulted in Boucher winning the puck and getting it back to Randy Gazzola at the blue-line. Gazzola floated a wrist shot towards the net that Cooper was able to get a stick on to deflect it past Sawchenko for the tie-breaking goal. The Reds then got a rare power play just under three minutes later and it only took them 12 seconds to extend their lead with Kris Bennett (Simpson, Boland) getting the puck at the goal line, spinning to his forehand, and putting it upstairs. Bennett's 5th goal of the tournament gave UNB a 3-1 lead and that is how it would remain after 40 minutes. Shots in the period were 13-12 for the Reds.

As expected, Alberta threw everything they had at UNB in the 3rd period with their season on the line. They made thing interesting at 6:47 when Grayson Pawlenchuk stole the puck from a fallen defender in the Reds corner and got it out front to Brandon Magee, who shot back against the grain as Dubeau was moving from his left to right. At 10:57 the Reds got a huge insurance goal to give them some breathing room. Mark Rassell broke down the left side and took a sharp angled shot that found the top corner to make it 4-2. From there it was all about protecting the lead and milking the clock. The Reds seemed perfectly content to slow the game down and take as many icings as necessary over the last five minutes to drain the clock, relying especially on Mark Simpson to win the ensuing offensive zone face-offs. The Bears pulled Sawchenko with over two minutes remaining, but couldn't muster much more than a couple of scrambles in front of Dubeau before the clock hit 0:00, giving the Reds an 8th University Cup championship. Alberta held a 10-2 shot advantage in the period.

Here are the final few seconds of the game courtesy the U Sports Hockey Twitter:
- The Reds went with their usual line-up, meaning Noah Carroll, James McEwan, and Patrick Watling were scratched.

- Alberta ended up out-shooting UNB 34-31 in the game. The Reds had more shots (10) in the opening 12 minutes of the game than they did in the entire 2015 final against Alberta (9).

- UNB was 1 for 3 on the power play. Alberta was 1 for 7.

- Alex Dubeau was sensational once again in goal, including making a huge sliding glove save at the left side of his net to keep the score 3-1 early in the 3rd period.

- Rassell and Magee were the players of the game.

- Attendance was 1593.

- After playing the best hockey of his UNB career this weekend, Alex Dubeau was named the recipient of the Major W.J. 'Danny' McLeod Award as the tournament MVP.

- Joining Dubeau on the tournament all-star team were defenceman Marcus McIvor and forwards Kris Bennett and Chris Clapperton. Alberta's Jason Fram and Luke Philp were the other two players named to the team.

- This is the first time in four tries the Reds have beaten Alberta in a gold medal game.

- This is the second time they have defeated the top seeded team in the final. They also accomplished this in 2007 against Moncton.

- Seniors Randy Gazzola, Cameron Brace, and Matt Boudens cap their excellent five year UNB careers with a 3rd national title. They also have a silver medal and bronze medal to their credit.

- Gazzola and Boudens played in the maximum 15 University Cup games over their university careers.

- UNB's 15 goals scored this weekend are the most they have ever potted in a University Cup-winning tournament. They netted 17 last year, giving them 32 in their last six tournament games.

- They out-scored the opposition by 11 goals (15-4), which is their best ever at the tournament. 

- UNB has now won a University Cup in five different provinces - New Brunswick (3), Saskatchewan (2), Ontario, Nova Scotia, and now Alberta.

- This is Gardiner MacDougall's 100th career postseason victory, which includes 69 AUS playoff wins plus another 31 University Cup wins.

- The Reds went 8-0 in postseason play this year. It is the first time they have ever gone undefeated through the AUS playoffs and University Cup.

- Of course, this now begs the question - Is this the best UNB team of all-time? A 4-2-0 exhibition record, a first place 25-2-3 regular season record, a 5-0 playoff record and an AUS title, and a 3-0 University Cup record with a gold medal for an overall record of 37 -4-3 this season. It is certainly in the conversation.

- Next up for the Reds is the offseason, but keep checking in for the latest news and updates throughout the summer.

- Hockey season is only six months away!

Sunday, March 17, 2019

X-Men Rebound, Take Bronze

The #6 seeded St. FX X-Men shook off a disastrous outing last night to capture the bronze medal at the 2019 University Cup, handing the #5 Saskatchewan Huskies a 5-1 loss this afternoon. Given all the drama and adversity they have faced this season, this is an impressive outcome for the X-Men. For the Huskies, this is their 3rd bronze medal game loss in the last four years. They lost the gold medal game in the other year.

The Huskies were the victim of a typical St. FX game that UNB - and AUS - fans have grown accustomed to over the years. The X-Men scored twice on their three power play chances and raced out to a 5-0 lead while the Huskies came up empty on seven opportunities with the man advantage and didn't find the back of the net until their 49th - and final - shot of the game.

- The X-Men got first period power play goals from defencemen Adam Holwell and Cole MacDonald. They doubled the lead in the second period on markers from Holwell and Matt Needham. Matthew Graham added their final goal early in the third period. 

- Parker Thomas' goal with 31 seconds remaining prevented Saskatchewan from getting shut-out for the 4th time in their last five games. 

- Shots in the game were 49-16 for Saskatchewan, but Chase Marchand rebounded in a big way to lead the X-Men to victory. The Huskies went with their back-up, Travis Child, who played sparingly this season. 

- Attendance was 923.

- St. FX lost 7-3 to Acadia in 2017 in their lone previous bronze medal game appearance. 

- The Huskies have lost in the bronze medal game in 2016 (5-2 to Saint Mary's), 2018 (5-4 in overtime to UNB), and now 2019.

- There is just one game left in the 2018-2019 U Sports men's hockey season and it is tonight's gold medal game between the #1 Alberta Golden Bears and the #2 UNB Reds. Game time is 9PM AST and it will be broadcast live across the country on Sportsnet 360. 

UNB vs. Alberta: Preview, Prediction, Poll

The University Cup will be on the line tonight when the sport's two powerhouse programs - the University of New Brunswick Reds and the Alberta Golden Bears - clash in the gold medal game at the ENMAX Centre in Lethbridge. The game is scheduled for a 9PM AST start and will be broadcast live nationally on Sportsnet 360.

For the Golden Bears (30-4-1), they will be looking to defend their title they won at the Aitken Centre last season. For UNB (32-2-3), they are going for a 3rd championship in four years.

It was a another typically great year for the Golden Bears this season. Although they finished a point behind the Saskatchewan Huskies in the Canada West standings with a 24-3-1 record, the Bears would ultimately get the last laugh. After earning a first round playoff bye, the Bears swept a good Calgary Dinos squad 3-1 and 6-3 to move on to the final against the Huskies in Saskatoon. Alberta dropped the first game 4-2, but then pitched back to back shutouts - 3-0 and 1-0 - to capture their 28th Canada West title. This allowed the Bears to enter the University Cup as the top seed and earned them a date against the severely over-matched Lethbridge Pronghorns in the quarter-finals. Alberta, as predicted, had little trouble in a 7-1 rout of Lethbridge to set up another game against their rivals from Saskatchewan. In the semi-finals Alberta scored three third period goals to break a scoreless tie and Zach Sawchenko did the rest, blanking the Huskies for a third consecutive must-win game to send the Bears to the finals against UNB.

As one could imagine, Alberta has sparkling numbers across the board this season. They ranked only behind UNB in the country in goals scored per game (4.78 to 5.00 for UNB) and had just a tick better goals against average as the Reds (1.964 vs 1.966), which was only behind Saskatchewan. The Bears also feature a lethal power play, which clicks 29.2% of the time, and a stifling penalty kill (89.8%).

Individually, the Bears are the only team in the country that can match up with UNB's depth. They are led up front by U Sports player of the year Luke Philp (21 goals, 24 assists in 24 games), but also receive significant contributions from Canada West second team all-star Cole Sanford (39 points), Brandon Magee (28 points in 22 games), Trevor Cox (28 points), captain and Canada West second team all-star Riley Kieser (24 points), Canada West rookie of the year and all-rookie team member Grayson Pawlenchuk (22 points), and Steven Owre (22 points).

On defence, Alberta might not have the same offensive ability the Reds have from 1 through 6, but they feature Jason Fram (30 points), who has been named the U Sports defenceman of the year for the past two seasons. Clayton Kirichenko (20 points) and veteran Graeme Craig (16 points) are their only other rearguards that topped double digits in points this season. By comparison, UNB had four defenceman register at least 18 points.

Between the pipes, Canada West second team all-star Zach Sawchenko has taken the reigns as their go-to guy this season and has proven to be one of the best in the country. Following up on a strong University Cup semi-final and final performance last season, Sawchenko put together a regular season that saw him post a 16-2-1 record with a 0.926 save percentage and an absurd 1.46 goals against average. He was equally as good in the playoffs with a 4-1 record, 0.927 save percentage, and 1.61 goals against average - including back to back shutouts in do-or-die games in the final. Incredibly, he has been even better in the University Cup - 2 wins and one goal allowed on 46 shots.

On paper this is probably about as even as a championship game match-up can get. These two are easily the top two teams in the country this year and it would be shocking if it wasn't a tight game. Unlike in 2015 when a veteran Golden Bears team completely stifled a young Reds squad that had many players playing in their first University Cup, this game appears to feature the two teams at the height of their powers.

However, the Bears do have a few slight advantages:

- The biggest being that they opened the tournament on Thursday and had Friday off while UNB will be playing their 3rd game in three days, something they have yet to do this season.

- Secondly, as the top seed Alberta will be the home team and get the last line change.

- Also, although the Reds have a lot of players with University Cup experience, the Bears will have more players with championship game experience. Alberta will most likely only have two guys in the line-up that have not played in a University Cup final - rookies Grayson Pawlenchuk and Curtis Miske. On the other hand, the Reds could have up to ten such players - Alex Dubeau, Tyler Boland, Kris Bennett, Alexandre Goulet, Mark Rassell, Matthew Boucher, Samuel Dove-McFalls, Olivier LeBlanc, Tristan Pomerleau, and Joe Gatenby. It might not matter, but it could prove to make a difference.

Ultimately, as with most games that are expected to be close, it will probably come down to special teams, goaltending, and perhaps a fortunate (or unfortunate) bounce. The Bears have been on a roll since the early part of the regular season, going 26-1-1 in their last 28 games, but the Reds were on a similar streak in 2008 before Alberta got them in the final. The Bears are due for a loss and UNB is due to beat them in a National Championship game. The Reds take this one in a nail-biter.

Your turn: Who do you got?

Who wins gold?

UNB
Alberta

UNB In The University Cup Final

The #2 seeded University of New Brunswick Reds will be looking to win their 8th University Cup in school history this evening when they face the defending champion and top seeded Alberta Golden Bears at the ENMAX Centre in Lethbridge. Game time is scheduled for 9PM and will be broadcast live nationally on Sportsnet 360.

Overall, UNB will be making their 13th appearance in the National Championship game, including their 9th in the last 13 years. It will be the 10th appearance since Gardiner MacDougall took the helm in 2000/2001.

Here is a breakdown of their previous 12 appearances:

1997: Lost to Guelph 4-3
1998: Defeated Acadia 6-3
2000: Lost to Alberta 5-2 in OT2
2004: Lost to St. FX 3-2 in OT
2007: Defeated Moncton 3-2 in OT
2008: Lost to Alberta 3-2
2009: Defeated Western Ontario 4-2
2011: Defeated McGill 4-0
2013: Defeated Saint Mary's 2-0
2015: Lost to Alberta 6-3
2016: Defeated St. FX 3-1
2017: Defeated Saskatchewan 5-3

A few notes of interest:

- UNB's 13 title games will tie Toronto for the second most all-time. Alberta will be appearing in their 22nd.

- UNB has seven University Cup championships, only behind Alberta (16) and Toronto (10).

- Both teams have 5 losses, which is one behind Saskatchewan for the most all-time.

- The Reds and Golden Bears have accounted for the last six University Cup titles with UNB winning in 2013, 2016, and 2017 and Alberta taking the crown in 2014, 2015, and 2018.

- 14 out of the last 15 gold medal games has involved either UNB or Alberta. The only one that didn't during that span? McGill's overtime win over Western at the AUC in 2012.

- The last six title games have featured only four different teams - UNB, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and St. FX. The last team besides those four to make it to the final was Saint Mary's in 2013.

- This is UNB's 4th University Cup appearance out west and they have made the final each time. The previous three were all held in Saskatoon and the Reds came away with a gold (1998), silver (1999), and gold (2013).

- Matt Boudens and Randy Gazzola will join Cam Braes, Josh Hepditch, and Lachlan MacIntosh as the only Reds players all-time to play in four gold medal games. Senior Cameron Brace was injured for the 2017 tournament so this will only be his 3rd championship game appearance.

- This is the second time UNB has played four title games in a five year span. They also accomplished the feat from 2007-2011.

- This is the 4th time UNB and Alberta have played in the championship game. The Golden Bears have won all three previous encounters - 5-4 in overtime in Saskatoon in 2000, 3-2 in Moncton 2008, and 6-3 in Halifax in 2015. The Reds also dropped a bronze medal game to Alberta in Fredericton in 2003.

- Interestingly, UNB has beaten Alberta in each of their four "non-medal" University Cup games - 4-3 in overtime in Toronto in 1997, 5-2 in Saskatoon in 1998, 6-5 in an epic overtime game in Fredericton in 2004, and 6-3 in Thunder Bay in 2009.

- This proves to be a fitting match-up as UNB was the #1 ranked team for the first 13 polls of the season before conceding the top spot to the Golden Bears for the last six polls.

- Since the University Cup expanded to the six - and then eight - team format, this will only be the 4th instance of the top two teams playing each other. The other three occurred in 2008 (#1 UNB vs. #2 Alberta), 2011 (#1 UNB vs. #2 McGill), and 2015 (#1 Alberta vs. #2 UNB).

Reds Trounce X-Men, Advance To Final

Kris Bennett ensured there would be no overtime heroics from the X-Men this season. The second year forward lit the lamp four times as the #2 seeded University of New Brunswick Reds overwhelmed the #6 seeded St. FX X-Men in a dominant 9-1 victory tonight in the University Cup semi-finals. UNB are back in the gold medal game after a one year hiatus and will now play the Alberta Golden Bears for the National Championship tomorrow evening. St. FX will look to regroup in time for a bronze medal match versus the Saskatchewan Huskies tomorrow afternoon.

It was a dream start for the Reds as they scored three goals in the opening seven minutes to put the X-Men immediately on their heals. Just like in game 2 of the AUS Final, it was Cameron Brace getting the scoring started early and setting the tone. Kris Bennett provided some nice work in the X-Men corner, protecting the puck and eventually spinning away from a defender just as Cameron Brace got loose in front of the net. Bennett feathered a pass out to Brace, who beat Chase Marchand with a shot just inside the far post at 1:36. Tristan Pomerleau also picked up an assist on the opening goal. Bennett then took a penalty, giving the X-Men power play a chance to get the equalizer. However, it was UNB taking advantage. Alexandre Goulet won a race to a loose puck just inside the St. FX blue-line, fended off a defenceman, and snapped the puck low glove side past Marchand to make it 2-0 with an unassisted marker at 6:07. It only took 51 seconds for the Reds to strike again thanks to a great individual effort from Bennett, who was just out of the penalty box. The second year forward got the puck in the X-Men zone and showed great puck protection as he maintained possession through a number of attempted checks before toe-dragging around a defenseman in the low slot and scoring. The unassisted goal made it 3-0 for UNB. They would not be done though. At 12:59 Samuel Dove-McFalls (Boucher, McIvor) got on the score-sheet with a goal off a nice rush only moments after a Reds power play expired. Dove-McFalls took a pass from Marcus McIvor deep in his own zone, chipped the puck to himself around an X-Men player at the Reds blue-line, skated into the offensive zone and put a wrist shot from the high slot through a screen to give UNB a commanding 4-0 lead, which they would take into the intermission. Shots in the period were 24-8 for the Reds, which were very indicative of the play.

The X-Men looked much better in the early parts of the second period and they were able to get on the board thanks to a fortunate bounce at 5:47. Adam Laishram took a shot from far out that hit a UNB stick and took a wicked ricochet downwards off the ice and into the top corner, past Alex Dubeau. St. FX had a chance to really make it interesting a few minutes later as UNB took a pair of penalties 31 seconds apart, but they only managed one shot on goal during the lengthy two man advantage despite having plenty of zone time. Shortly after successfully killing off the penalties UNB made sure there would be no miraculous comeback on this night as they struck for two goals in 67 seconds to put the game out of reach. At 10:37 Bennett (LeBlanc, Gatenby) notched his second of the night after coming hard down the right side and lifting a backhanded shot into the top right corner. Then, at 11:44, Chris Clapperton (Boland, Gazzola) took a pass off the side boards and got in behind a defenceman before slapping the puck between Marchand's legs. UNB would hold a 6-1 lead after two periods. They out-shot the X-Men 14-8 in the period.   

The Reds would add another three goals to their total in the 3rd period to turn this one into a laugher. At 4:14 Marchand stopped two shots in quick succession, but Bennett (Dove-McFalls, LeBlanc) was able to pounce on a rebound and get the third one past him for his hat-trick goal. Joe Gatenby (Boucher, Goulet) would make it 8-1 on a shot from the blue-line at 12:39 and then Bennett would add his fourth of the game at 14:12, keeping the puck on a two-on-one and putting a well-placed shot off the post and in. That would finally wrap up the scoring - much to St. FX's delight I suspect - as UNB out-shot the X-Men 16-4 over the final twenty minutes.

- UNB went with the same line-up as yesterday. Noah Carroll, James McEwan, and Patrick Watling were all scratched.

- Shots in the game were 54-20 for the Reds.

- Neither team scored a power play goal even though there were 15 opportunities in the game - nine for St. FX and six for UNB. As the game got increasingly out of hand on the scoreboard the refs became a lot less lenient, no doubt as a way to keep control of the game and avoid a situation like we saw at the end of the Alberta/Saskatchewan game.

- Bennett (4 goals, 1 assist) and Laishram (1 goal) were named the player's of the game.

- Alex Dubeau stopped 19 out of 20 shots, although he wasn't forced to make as many tough saves like he was against Carleton.

- Attendance was 1021.

- UNB set school records for the most goals (9) and largest margin of victory (8) in a University Cup game.

- UNB improves to 2-2 all-time against the X-Men in University Cup play.

- The Reds have outscored the X-Men 29-5 in winning the last four head-to-head meetings between the two this season.

- Bennett is the first Reds player to have five points in a UCup game. His four goals match Cam Braes (twice) and Philippe Halley for the most by a UNB player.

- With the victory, it guarantees 5th year players Randy Gazzola, Matt Boudens, and Cameron Brace will finish their UNB careers with five University Cup medals. They will be looking to add a 3rd gold medal (2016, 2017) to a collection that also includes a silver (2015) and bronze (2018).

- This is the second time in three years St. FX has been blown out in a national semi-final game. They lost 8-0 to Saskatchewan in 2017.

- UNB will now focus their attention on the Alberta Golden Bears in what will be the first meeting between the two powerhouses since the 2015 title game. Game time is 9PM and it will be broadcast live on Sportsnet 360.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Huskies Can't Crack Golden Bears Code

The #1 seeded Alberta Golden Bears shut-out their rival and #5 seeded Saskatchewan Huskies for a 3rd straight time in two weeks to earn a second straight trip to the University Cup gold medal game. They will look to defend their championship against the winner of tonight's UNB/St. FX semi-final while the Huskies will play the loser for the bronze medal.

- The game was scoreless through forty minutes of play despite the shots being 31-21 in favour of the Bears and Alberta starting the second period with a five minute power play.

- Alberta broke the ice 1:38 into the third period when captain Riley Kieser took an innocent looking wrist shot from the side boards that found its way past a screened Taran Kozun in the Saskatchewan goal.

- The back-breaker for the Huskies came at 10:32. U Sports goaltender of the year Kozun played the puck behind his net right to Golden Bear Grayson Pawlenchuk, who found Luke Philp in the slot for an easy insurance goal into a wide open net.

- Rookie Pawlenchuk iced the contest with an empty net goal, pouncing on a turnover in the Huskies zone and hitting the inside of the post with a spinning shot.

- After the empty net goal there was a scuffle at centre ice that resulted in the Huskies Jesse Forsberg and Alex Forsberg receiving instigating penalties and game misconducts. They will almost certainly be suspended for tomorrow's game. 

- After losing game one of the Canada West final, Zach Sawchenko has shut-out the Huskies in three straight must-win games.

- The Huskies will be appearing in their 3rd bronze medal game in four years.

- Alberta will be participating in their 3rd title game in five years and will be looking to add to their record of 16 championships.

- The second semi-final between the UNB Reds and St. FX X-Men goes tonight at 9PM AST on Sportsnet 360.

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

For a second consecutive year, the AUS Champion UNB Reds will meet the team they beat in the conference final - the St. FX X-Men - in the University Cup semi-final. The Reds will be looking to avenge last season's heartbreaking 5-4 overtime defeat on home ice while St. FX will be looking to advance to their third national final in four years. Game time is 9PM AST and will be broadcast nationally on Sportsnet 360.

This will be the 16th meeting between the two teams in the last two years so there really isn't too much to say about this one. Both teams probably know more about the other than they do any other opponent so there shouldn't be any surprises or secrets at this point.

UNB have won five out of the seven match-ups against St. FX this season with their victories all coming in blowout fashion - 8-1, 5-1, and 8-2 in the regular season before posting 5-1 and 7-1 wins in a two game sweep in the AUS Final. Of course, those two losses (4-2 and 3-2) represent the only regulation set-backs suffered by UNB so far this season so that should give the X-Men some confidence, as well as their 5-3 comeback win over Queen's last night.

For the Reds to be successful they will need to up their game after yesterday's good, but not great, performance against the Carleton Ravens. Some keys:

- A good start will especially be important. In their five wins over the X-Men this season UNB scored the first goal while they fell behind 3-0 in each of the losses. The Reds will want to dictate the play and force St. FX to play their more uptempo style of game and try to wear out an X-Men team that has played a ton of playoff hockey this year, much like they did in the AUS Final.

- St. FX relies on their power play for offense more than any other team in the conference so an air-tight penalty kill and another strong game from Alex Dubeau will be paramount.

- The X-Men are also particularly dangerous at taking advantage of turnovers and counter-attacking to create offense. This means the defense will need to be more careful with the puck and maybe avoid taking the same risks they would take against most opponents.

- On offense, they have been able to pepper X-Men goaltenders with a high volume of shots this season. This has been due, in part, to the X-Men icing a young defence that the Reds have been able to expose at times. Chase Marchand is a great goalie, but if UNB can generate another 40-50 shot game they should be able to get enough by him to win.

- The X-Men got forwards Holden Cook - who has had some big games against UNB in his career - and Bryson Cianfrone back last night. However, they were still without Anthony Difruscia. Puck moving defenceman Santino Centorame also missed last night's game so the X-Men are still a bit banged up. The Reds had all their injured players back yesterday afternoon and appear to be relatively healthy given the time of year.

At the end of the day, the Reds have to be considered a fairly heavy favourite but, as we saw last year, anything can - and usually does - happen in a one game showdown. A hot goalie, lucky bounce, or an off-night by your special teams can be the difference between playing Sunday night for a gold medal or Sunday afternoon for a bronze.

POLL: Who do you got?


Who wins?

UNB
St. FX
Created with QuizMaker

Cook Leads X-Men Comeback

The #3 seeded Queen's Gaels jumped out to a 3-0 first period lead only to see the resilient #6 seeded St. FX X-Men rattle off five straight goals for a 5-3 victory in the last quarter-final match-up at the 2019 University Cup. The X-Men move on to face the UNB Reds in tomorrow nights semi-final.

- The Gaels received a pair of goals from Luke Edwards and Francesco Vilardi in taking a 3-0 lead less than 17 minutes into the game. They could have had more if not for some timely saves from Chase Marchand to keep the game from getting too far out of hand.

- After missing a number of playoff games the X-Men got a big boost with the return of leading scorer Holden Cook to the line-up. He proved to be a difference maker on this night with three points. His power play goal at 18:04 of the first period after a lucky bounce off the end boards got St. FX off and running as they were in control for most of the remaining 52 minutes of the game. He added a nice assist on Adam Stevens second period power play goal before tying the game on a scramble in front of the Gael's net 9:19 into the third period.

- Adam Laishram scored the eventual game-winning goal with just over six minutes remaining and Sam Studnicka put it away with an empty netter in the final minute.

- Shots in the game were 40-32 for St. FX.

- The X-Men went 2 for 5 on the power play. Queen's converted on their only opportunity.

- Cook and Edwards were the players of the game.

- OUA teams are now 0 for their last four University Cups, going 0-12 in that time.

- The two semi-finals are not only rematches of the Canada West and AUS Final, but also rematches of last years semi-finals in which Alberta and St. FX came out on top.

- Both games will be broadcast on Sportsnet 360. Alberta/Saskatchewan goes at 4PM AST while UNB/St. FX is slated for a 9PM AST start.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Dubeau Prevails In Goaltender Duel

The #2 seeded University of New Brunswick Reds were given all they could handle in their University Cup quarter-final this afternoon, but they managed to come away with a tight 2-1 win over the #7 seeded Carleton Ravens in a game where the two goalies stole the show. With the win UNB moves on to face the winner of tonight's Queen's/St. FX match-up tomorrow night at 9PM on Sportsnet.

It was a choppy beginning with the game featuring a number of whistles in the opening minutes. The Reds were able to open the scoring 7:15 into the contest when Chris Clapperton fired a pass from just inside the blue line to Stephen Anderson at the far face-off circle. Anderson then sent the puck back against the grain to Tyler Boland in front of the net, who was able to re-direct it in as he was skating through the top of the crease. That would be the only puck to cross the line in the period as UNB out-shot the Ravens by a 10-8 count.

The game really opened up in the second period with each team generating a number of scoring opportunities. After a good start to the period by UNB, it was Carleton getting the equalizer at 4:32. Alex Dubeau - who was ridiculous in this one - made an incredible save off Matthew Forchuk at the side of the net, but the Ravens forward followed up on his own rebound and made no mistake on his second chance, lifting the puck over Dubeau's out-stretched left leg to tie the game 1-1. The tie was short-lived, however. Just under two minutes later Matt Murphy found Alexandre Goulet with a pass to spring a short 3-on-1 near the hash marks. Goulet used Oliver Cooper as a decoy before hitting Matt Boudens with a cross-slot pass that the 5th year forward went down on one knee to one-time into the top right corner for a 2-1 lead. The Ravens regrouped quickly and got a 3-on-1 of their own shortly after the goal, but Dubeau held his ground with a couple big stops during a scramble at the side of his net. The Reds would take the 2-1 lead - and their first power play of the game - into intermission after out-shooting Carleton 18-6 in the frame.

After coming up empty on their power play that carried over into the third period, UNB had another chance to extend their lead when Carleton took a pair of penalties 58 seconds apart in the opening minutes and then another at 11:13. Goaltender Francois Brassard and the rest of his Ravens teammates stood tall though, killing off four consecutive penalties to keep the game within striking distance. A Carleton man advantage at 14:43 was effectively wiped out by the Reds which set the stage for a tense ending. With 2:39 remaining a harmless Ravens shot towards the net hit a UNB defender's skate and re-directed towards the goal, but an alert Dubeau was able to reach back and pull the puck off the goal-line to preserve the 2-1 lead. Carleton then had a couple of face-offs in the Reds zone with the goalie pulled, but with only a handful of seconds on the clock UNB was able to work the puck into the corner and kill the rest of the clock, allowing their fans to exhale after a tighter-than-expected victory. Shots in the period were 10-9 for the Reds.

- UNB had Chris Clapperton, Matthew Boucher, and Tristan Pomerleau all back in the line-up today after they all missed the last game of the AUS Final. Noah Carroll, Patrick Watling, and James McEwan were the scratches.

- Shots in the game were 38-23 for the Reds.

- Both teams came up empty on their power play chances - UNB in four tries, Carleton in three.

- The two goalies - Brassard and Dubeau - were appropriately named their team's player of the game.

- From all accounts the ice surface at the ENMAX Centre has not been the greatest so far, which no doubts hurts a team like UNB that relies on speed, skill, and pushing the pace. 

- Matt Boudens and Randy Gazzola both played in their 13th career University Cup game, which is now the most in UNB history.

- UNB improves to 4-0 all-time versus the Ravens, although this is the first match-up between the two that wasn't an exhibition game at the Aitken Centre.

- They don't play there often, but the Reds seem to enjoy western hospitality. They are now 7-0 out west under Gardiner MacDougall. They went 3-0 at the 2013 University Cup in Saskatchewan and also swept a three game road-trip to Alberta and Calgary in the fall of 2010.

- UNB has won their opening game at all 16 University Cup tournaments they have played in.

- However, this was their biggest scare since defeating Calgary by the same 2-1 score in 2011. In their last six tournament openers before today they had out-scored the opposition 33-7.

- The final quarter-final goes tonight at 10PM AST when the OUA Champion and #3 seeded Queen's Gaels take on the AUS runner-up and #6 seeded St. FX X-Men.

- The Reds will obviously be watching that game with great interest as the winner will be their opponent in tomorrow nights semi-final game, which goes at 9PM AST and will be broadcast live on Sportsnet 360.


Pronghorns No Match For Bears

As expected, the #1 seeded Alberta Golden Bears had no problem easily disposing the #8 seeded Lethbridge Pronghorns in the second quarter-final of the 2019 University Cup, thumping the hosts 7-1. The win sets up a rematch of last year's semi-final - and this year's Canada West final - with the rival Saskatchewan Huskies.

- The Bears, who held period leads of 1-0 and 4-1, received goals from U Sports Player of the Year Luke Philp (2), Ben Carroll, Cole Sanford, Sawyer Lange, Trevor Cox, and Brandon Magee.

- Replying for the Pronghorns was former St. Thomas Tommie Connor Sanvido, who made it 2-1 early in the second period. The game would remain close until the Bears tacked on a pair of goals in the latter half of the period, including one with only 17 seconds remaining in the period, and never looked back. 

- Philp (2 goals, 2 assists) was named Alberta's player of the game and no doubt impressed the various scouts in attendance as he was a threat all game long.

- Shots were 30-15 for the Golden Bears.

- Alberta went 1 for 3 with the power play and also scored a shorthanded goal. Lethbridge was 0 for 4 with the man advantage.

- The Bears and Huskies will renew acquaintances at 4PM AST on Saturday with a trip to Sunday's gold medal game on the line. 

- The next quarter-final game goes tomorrow at 4PM AST as the #2 University of New Brunswick Reds face the #7 Carleton Ravens.