Tuesday, December 1, 2020

AUS Axes Season

The news all of us dreaded was confirmed late last week as the AUS announced the cancellation of conference-sanctioned regular seasons and postseasons for the 2021 winter semester, following in the footsteps of the OUA and Canada West. 

Given how well Atlantic Canada was handling the COVID-19 pandemic there was optimism we would see a condensed regular season followed by conference playoffs in the new year. Unfortunately, the decision on whether to proceed with a season or not had to be made just as coronavirus cases spiked across the region, effectively squashing any hope of a season. 

There was a sliver of good news, though, as the AUS has stated that member schools will be allowed to engage in competition (ie/ exhibition games) as long as they follow the most up-to-date public health directives. In Bruce Hallihan's recent chat with Gardiner MacDougall, the head coach said "some coaches have reached out" so it appears some conversations have already taken place about the possibility of having games in the new year.. At this point any kind of competition would be welcome, exhibition or not. Hopefully it comes to fruition.

 

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Bennett, Cooper Named Captains

Fourth year forward Kris Bennett has been named the newest team captain of the Reds, succeeding graduating defenceman Marcus McIvor, the team has announced. Oliver Cooper, the team's lone 5th year player, will serve as the associate captain. 

The hard-working Bennett has been one of the top U Sports players in the country and a fan favourite since joining UNB out of the OHL in 2017. He posted 38 points (18 goals, 20 assists) in 30 games in his freshman year, earning both the AUS and U Sports Rookie of the Year for his efforts. He followed up his stellar rookie campaign with 15 goals and 20 assists in 30 regular season games in 2018-2019, but it was the postseason where he really took his game to another level, helping the Reds to an AUS title and National Championship. He led all players in scoring in the AUS Playoffs with eight points in five games and then had six points in three games at the University Cup in Lethbridge, including a four goal performance in a 9-1 semi-final victory over St. FX and what turned out to be the game-winning goal in a 4-2 win over Alberta in the final. He carried that momentum into last season where he enjoyed the best regular season of his career with 40 points (14 goals, 26 assists) in 29 games before adding another seven points in six playoff games as UNB won their 3rd straight conference championship. 

The remaining members of the Reds leadership group will be announced at a later date.


Wednesday, October 28, 2020

News and Notes: Simpson, Anderson, Power Rankings

A few notes of interest:

- Centre Mark Simpson has agreed to terms with the Stockton Heat, the AHL affiliate of the Calgary Flames. Earlier in the summer Simpson had indicated that he was planning on moving on after four years at UNB, during which time he cemented himself as one of the best two-way forwards in the country and helped the Reds to a pair of national championships. Simpson departs UNB having scored 77 points in 109 regular season games and 15 points in 25 AUS playoff games. 

- Fellow forward Stephen Anderson has also joined the professional ranks. After five seasons at UNB the Morell, PEI product has inked a deal for the 2020-2021 season with the ECHL's Florida Everblades, an affiliate of the Nashville Predators. The smooth skating Anderson was a key member to the Reds top line over the previous two seasons and leaves UNB having scored 130 points in 132 career regular season games and another 23 points in 26 AUS postseason games. He was part of three University Cup-winning teams while at UNB.

- With Simpson and Anderson turning pro, it means every graduating member of last season's team have now signed professional contracts for the upcoming season. Patrick Watling (Allen, ECHL), Marcus McIvor (Fort Wayne, ECHL), and Matt Murphy (Fort Wayne, ECHL) all signed contracts earlier in the summer. 

- The excellent U Sports website 49 Sports recently published their men's hockey power rankings for the last decade. Needless to say, UNB fans will be very happy with the results. 

Monday, October 26, 2020

Phelan To Join Reds

The University of New Brunswick Reds have added another important piece to their 2021-2022 recruiting class, announcing the addition of former AHL forward James Phelan to the program. The Reds had previously confirmed the commitment of goaltender Griffen Outhouse to next season's roster. 

The 6', 185 pound Phelan split his QMJHL career between the Shawinigan Cataractes, Victoriaville Tigres - where he was a teammate of current Reds Alexandre Goulet and Tristan Pomerleau - and Moncton Wildcats. Over 321 career games he recorded 86 goals and 105 assists for 191 points, including a career-high of 33 goals and 41 assists in his final season. He contributed another nine goals and five assists in 31 playoff contests.  

After his five year major junior career came to an end in 2018, the native of Laval, Quebec originally committed to UNB before signing a professional contract with the AHL's Texas Stars. He would spend the next two seasons playing in the AHL and ECHL, combining for six goals and nine assists in 83 games. 

Phelan has been practicing with the Reds this fall while he red-shirts. He will be eligible to play beginning in the fall of 2021.

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Hammer Comes Down, AUS Safe (for now)

It was a bad week for U Sports fans as both the Canada West (CW) and Ontario University Athletics (OUA) conferences announced that they would be cancelling all conference regular season, postseason, and championship events scheduled for the winter semester. It was noted, however, that members can still pursue exhibition and/or regional non-conference play should public health guidelines allow. 

Additionally, U Sports has cancelled all national championships scheduled for 2020-2021. This includes the University Cup, which was to be held in Charlottetown. 

The news was slightly better for the eastern part of the country, particularly in Atlantic Canada. The Reseau du sport etudiant du Quebec (RSEQ) conference has suspended all sports-related activity until January 15th while Atlantic University Sport (AUS) is forming a five person Return-To-Play committee to explore possible options for the winter semester. A decision on that front is expected by mid-November.  

Unfortunately, this news was to be expected, especially given the surge of COVID-19 cases across the country in recent weeks. At this point we just have to cross our fingers that there is some form of competition this season, even if it looks very different than what we are accustomed to.


Saturday, September 5, 2020

Reds Land Outhouse

The University of New Brunswick Reds have already got a head start on their 2021-2022 recruiting, announcing the addition of former pro goaltender Griffen Outhouse to the program. 

Outhouse, a 6' 185 pound native of Williams Lake, British Columbia spent his entire four year junior career with the WHL's Victoria Royals, posting a record of 114-60-7 while never finishing a season with a save percentage below 0.913. His 0.937 save percentage in his rookie year was the best in the country. 

After concluding his junior career Outhouse was one of the top overage goaltenders available out of the CHL and originally committed to the Alberta Golden Bears for the 2019-2020 season. However, he would instead sign a two-way AHL/ECHL contract with the Winnipeg Jets. He split last season with the AHL's Manitoba Moose, playing five games and putting up a 3.70 GAA and 0.882 save percentage, and the ECHL's Jacksonville Icemen, where he had 4.25 GAA and .874 GAA in nine games before suffering a season-ending left knee injury. 

Due to playing professionally after his age 21 season Outhouse will be not only be docked a year of eligibility, but will also not become eligible to play until a year from his last professional game, which was in late January. Although it is technically possible he could play this season, the uncertainty surrounding the campaign due to COVID-19 combined with UNB already boasting the stellar tandem of Rylan Parenteau and Samuel Harvey between the pipes  means it is likely the Reds will opt to hold Outhouse out until next season. 

It should also be noted that Parenteau is entering his fourth season while Harvey, as Gardiner MacDougall pointed out in the press release, has fast-tracked his degree and will be graduating in the spring after only two seasons, much like former UNB goaltenders Michael Ouzas and Etienne Marcoux did, so the plan could be to have Outhouse practice with the team this season before taking over as the number one goaltender in 2021-2022. 

Saturday, August 8, 2020

Roster Questions Answered

Bruce Hallihan's recent article in the Daily Gleaner (subscription required) helped bring some clarity to the Reds 2020-2021 roster situation.

As you may recall in our post last month about the recruitment of forward Isaac Nurse, we noted that this gave the Reds 23 skaters on their roster - one above the maximum allowed cap of 22 - and speculated that there may be an unannounced departure. Hallihan confirmed that this is indeed the case as forward Ben Hawerchuk will not return for his sophomore season, instead opting to stay home in Ontario as his father - Hall of Famer Dale Hawerchuk - battles a recurrence of cancer. He joins forwards Stephen Anderson, Patrick Watling, and Mark Simpson as well as defencemen Marcus McIvor and Matt Murphy as those not returning. However, forward Oliver Cooper will be back for his 5th and final season of eligibility. 

This is how the roster looks as of today. It includes 22 skaters (15 forwards + seven defencemen) and three goaltenders:

5TH YEAR (1)
F - Oliver Cooper

4TH YEAR (6)
G - Rylan Parenteau 
F - Tyler Boland
F - Kris Bennett
F - Alexandre Goulet
D - Tristan Pomerleau
D - Olivier LeBlanc

3RD YEAR (6)
F - Mark Rassell
F - Matthew Boucher
F - Samuel Dove-McFalls
F - James McEwan
D - Joe Gatenby
D - Noah Carroll

2ND YEAR (6)
G - Samuel Harvey
G - Tanner Somers
F - Brady Gilmour
F - Dylan Seitz
D - Connor Hall
D - Benjamin Gagne

1ST YEAR (6)
F - Austen Keating
F - Nicolas Guay
F - Jason Willms
F - Macauley Carson
F - Isaac Nurse
D - Kade Landry

Alberta Reinstates Hockey Programs

The University of Alberta's request to reinstate their Golden Bears and Pandas hockey teams for the upcoming 2020-2021 season - should there be one - has been approved by Canada West, it was announced this past week.

The school had announced in June that they were withdrawing from conference competition for the 2020-2021 season in two-term sports - hockey, volleyball, and basketball - due to financial constraints. However, thanks to support from alumni the school applied to reinstate their hockey programs. They did not make a request to reinstate the other two sports. 

The conference has already cancelled fall semester competition with a decision regarding the winter semester coming no later October 8th. 


Monday, July 27, 2020

News And Notes: Murphy, McIvor, Boudens, Maillet

A few tidbits as a long off-season drags on:

- Recent graduates Marcus McIvor and Matt Murphy have found a home for next season as both have signed with the ECHL's Fort Wayne Komets. The Komets, who are an affiliate of the Vegas Golden Knights, also inked Acadia forward Stephen Harper to a contract. The trio will join former Red Matt Boudens, who just completed his rookie season with the Komets. Boudens scored ten goals with Fort Wayne while also appearing in ten games with the AHL's Chicago Wolves.

- Former Reds - and U Sports - superstar Philippe Maillet has been named to the Washington Capitals 31 player playoff roster. Maillet led their AHL affiliate, the Hershey Bears, in scoring this season with 17 goals and 27 assists in 61 games. As one of the top four teams in the conference when the season was suspended, Washington will receive a bye through the first round of the playoffs. They will instead play seeding games against Boston, Tampa Bay, and Philadelphia. The playoffs get started Saturday in Toronto and Edmonton. 

Friday, July 10, 2020

Reds Add Nurse

The University of New Brunswick Reds have completed their summer recruiting with the addition of Hamilton Bulldogs (OHL) forward and team captain Isaac Nurse.

Nurse spent his entire major junior career with the Bulldogs, where he was a teammate of fellow recruit Kade Landry. Overall, he compiled 50 goals and 42 assists in 221 regular season games. He had a career-high of 17 goals and 13 assists in 2017-2018 before adding another seven goals and four assists in 21 postseason games that season, helping his team capture the OHL Championship. Injuries limited him this past season, but he was on pace for a career year with 15 goals and 11 assists in only 31 games.

Head coach Gardiner MacDougall praised Nurse's "speed and relentless work ethic" and noted that the 5'11", 185 pound native of Hamilton has "continuously improved his game", working his way from a late round draft pick to become the Bulldog's captain this past year.

Nurse comes from a family with a long line of accomplished athletes. His sister was a member of Canada's silver medal hockey team at the 2018 Winter Olympics. He is the cousin of Edmonton Oilers defenceman Darnell Nurse and Kia Nurse, who plays for New York in the WNBA. He is also the nephew of former NFL quarterback Donovan McNabb.

The addition of Nurse is an interesting move for the Reds. They finished the season with a maxed out roster of 22 skaters and have lost five players to eligibility or graduation in Stephen Anderson, Patrick Watling, Marcus McIvor, Mark Simpson, and Matt Murphy. However, they have now announced six recruits for the upcoming season. This leads one to believe forward Oliver Cooper will not be returning for his 5th season of eligibility, there has been an unannounced departure, or they are planning on keeping someone out of game action all season as to not count against the roster cap.

Monday, June 22, 2020

Golden Bears Suspend Hockey For Season

In a shocking announcement, the University of Alberta has suspended their men's and women's hockey, basketball, and volleyball teams for the entirety of the 2020-2021 season due to financial concerns.

It had previously been reported that Canada West would not hold any athletic events until January at the earliest, so it appears Alberta decided it did not make sense financially to only play, at most, half a season in these sports.

According to the press release, "Cuts to the Campus Alberta Grant, the demand by the Alberta government that universities balance their budget and reduce expenditures in-year, and the reduction to the University of Alberta Athletics and Recreation student fee...has produced a worst-case scenario for University of Alberta varsity sport."

It's worth noting that the University of Lethbridge also stated that cuts from the provincial government played a role in their decision to discontinue their hockey programs back in April.

It's never good when a school the size of Alberta is forced to make these kind of cuts, especially when it involves the most-storied university hockey program in the country. However, while conference rivals such as Saskatchewan and Calgary are undoubtedly licking their chops at the prospect of a Golden Bears-free season as it constitutes a prime opportunity to make a championship run, it is very likely Alberta's season-long absence will ultimately prove to be inconsequential as there is still a very real possibility the entire season eventually gets canceled anyway.

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Stienburg Steps Down

Long-time Saint Mary's Huskies head coach Trevor Stienburg has stepped down from his coaching duties, the team has announced.

Stienburg spent 23 years behind the Huskies bench, leading the team to a school-record 369 regular season victories, three AUS Championships (2002, 2009, 2010), and their first University Cup in 2010. Additionally, he helped the Huskies to a national silver medal (losing to UNB 2-0 in 2013) and national bronze medal (in 2016). He was named the national Coach of the Year on three separate occasions.

Since both teams annually field contending teams, it isn't a shock that the the Huskies and Reds have had their share of epic battles over Stienburg's tenure. While the stakes were never bigger than when they met in the 2013 University Cup final, perhaps their most intense meetings came in the 2008 and 2009 AUS Final. The Reds swept the Huskies in 2008 with a pair of overtime victories only to have the Huskies return the favour the next year, blasting the Reds 5-1 in the 3rd and deciding game at the AUC to capture the conference banner.

Other postseason match-ups took place in 2003 (2-0 UNB series win in AUS quarter-final), 2013 (2-1 UNB series win in AUS Final), 2014 (3-1 SMU series win in AUS semi-final), 2016 (4-0 UNB win in UCup semi-final), 2017 (3-1 UNB series win in AUS semi-final), and 2018 (3-0 UNB series win in AUS semi-final).

Stienburg has stated a desire to spend more time with his ailing parents, as well as watch his son Matthew - a 3rd round draft pick of the Colorado Avalanche who currently plays at Cornell University (NCAA) - play as motivation for his decision.

No replacement has been named as of yet.

AUS Cancels Fall Sports Schedule

As most of you have heard by now, the AUS have announced that they have canceled all conference sporting events until January 2021 due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The decision was made in conjunction with the OUA, Canada West, and U Sports.

It was also announced that an announcement regarding the the fate of winter sports, as well as two-term sports such as hockey, basketball, and volleyball, will be made in the fall.

Reds Athletic Director John Richard issued a statement on the news.

Although this news is disappointing, especially given how well the Atlantic provinces have fared in terms of containing the virus thus far, it is not terribly surprising. Many schools have already announced they will be offering primarily on-line courses this fall and, as we are seeing with numerous professional leagues, there are still plenty of logistical hurdles that need to be figured out to put on sporting events safely for both the players and spectators.

We now hold out hope that we will at least see part of a season, beginning in January.

Monday, May 4, 2020

Landry Latest To Join Reds

Defenceman Kade Landry from the Hamilton Bulldogs of the Ontario Hockey League is the latest member of the University of New Brunswick's impressive recruiting class, the team announced yesterday afternoon. 

A 6'1", 198 pound product of Wallace, Ontario, Landry split his junior career between the Barrie Colts and Hamilton, helping the Bulldogs capture the 2017-2018 OHL Championship following a mid-season trade. His best season, statistically, came in 2018-2019 when he recorded six goals and 45 assists in 66 games. He had four goals and 28 assists in 59 games this past year. Overall, he posted 15 goals and 118 assists in 248 regular season games and four points in as many postseason games. 

Landry, who has attended a New York Rangers training camp, is described by Gardiner MacDougall as an "excellent, mobile, puck-moving defenceman, with great vision, outstanding leadership skills, and a high compete level." Meanwhile, asssociate coach Rob Hennigar says they "love the way Kade skates, and love his ability to distribute the puck in all three zones."

Landry will reunite with former Barrie teammates Ben Hawerchuk and Jason Willms on the Reds.

Depending on the status of forward Oliver Cooper, UNB may enter the season with a full complement of 22 players on the roster. This is something they rarely do as they usually leave an opening for a possible addition over the holiday break. 

Monday, April 27, 2020

Carson Commits

The University of New Brunswick Reds continue to bolster their offensive depth as Sudbury Wolves captain MacAuley Carson has become the fourth forward to join the program in the last week, the team announced today.

The 6'2", 207 pound Carson brings size, some offensive skill, and a lot of intangibles to the table. He spent his entire OHL career with Sudbury, amassing 182 points (85 goals, 97 assists) in a franchise-record 304 games. He tied his career-high with 50 points (22 goals, 28 assists) this past season while also racking up 71 penalty minutes. He added another four goals and two assists in 14 career playoff games.

The native of Midhurst, Ontario has attended training camps with the New York Rangers and San Jose Sharks in recent years.

Head coach Gardiner MacDougall praised Carson's "outstanding leadership qualities and his intangible qualities", adding that he fits UNB's need for a "gritty, hard-to-play against forward who is physical".

In a recent OHL Coaches Poll Carson placed in the top three in the best shot blocker (2nd, 1st in 2018-2019), body checker (2nd), and defensive forward (3rd) categories, all traits which should make him a quick fan favourite amongst UNB fans.

This move comes as a bit of a surprise for a couple of reasons. First, Carson appeared to be heading to UPEI, where a number of his former Wolves teammates play, earlier this offseason. Secondly, depending on Oliver Cooper's status, this means UNB could have 15 forwards on the roster compared to only six defencemen, so it seemed a defenceman was the more pressing need. We'll have to see how things shake out moving forward.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Reds Add Guay

The University of New Brunswick Reds have announced their third recruit of the week with QMJHL forward Nicolas Guay set to join the team for the upcoming 2020-2021 season.

Guay split his five year junior career between the Chicoutimi Sagueneens, Drummondville Voltigeurs, Saint John Sea Dogs, and Rimouski Oceanic. He served as the Voltigueurs captain for two years and assumed the same role this past year with a young Sea Dogs squad before being dealt to the Oceanic.

Over the course of his QMJHL career the 6', 185 pound product of Chateauguay, Quebec accumulated 109 goals and 131 assists for 240 points in 266 games. His best season came in 2018-2019 when he had 40 goals and 47 assists and was a +53 in 64 games for Drummondville. He had 27 goals and 39 assists in 62 games this past season. Guay's teams made the playoffs in each of the four full seasons he played, posting 7 goals and 13 assists in 31 games.

Guay attended the Montreal Canadiens rookie camp last fall.

Gardiner MacDougall says Guay is "a big-time performer with a big upside to his game" and "has an elite, competitive mindset, and relentless work ethic."

With three impact forwards recruited to replace the three graduating, expect to see the Reds now shift their focus to strengthening their defence.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Willms To Join Reds

The defending AUS Champion University of New Brunswick Reds have added their second OHL forward in as many days with former Barrie Colt and London Knight Jason Willms committing to the team for the 2020-2021 season.

Willms, a 6', 187 pound native of Kitchener, Ontario, spent the first three and a half seasons of his career with the Barrie Colts - the last two serving as team captain - before getting dealt to the Knights part way through last season. Overall, he contributed 82 goals and 99 assists in 264 career games with his best season coming in 2017-2018, when he put up 27 goals and 32 assists in 68 games. He had 22 goals and 31 assists in 60 games this season. He only saw postseason action once, adding six points in 12 games.

The durable Willms - he never missed a game during his OHL career - is particularly known for his ability in the face-off circle, placing tied for first and first the last two seasons in the "Best on Faceoffs" category in the annual OHL Coach's Poll. He won 2849 draws in his junior career, including a league-high 865 this season, at close to a 60% clip.

Furthermore, head coach Gardiner MacDougall describes his latest recruit as someone who is "durable, has elite face-off skills, and the ability to score clutch goals" and who will "bring a fiercely competitive mindset and work ethic" to the program. 

Willms will be joining some familiar faces with the Reds. He was a teammate of Ben Hawerchuk in Barrie and is good friends with both Connor Hall and Austen Keating.

If Keating is going to be looked upon to replace some of the first-line offense lost from the departure of Stephen Anderson and Patrick Watling, Willms looks like a natural replacement for the graduating Mark Simpson as someone who can dominate the face-off circle, be responsibly defensively, and chip in on offense.

The Reds will now look to fill their remaining roster spots over the coming months.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Keating Commits To Reds

The University of New Brunswick Reds have locked up their first recruit of the off-season - and it's a big one - as Ottawa 67's forward Austen Keating - fresh off back to back 89 point seasons in the nation's capital - has committed to the Reds for the upcoming 2020-2021 season, the team announced earlier today.

The 6', 172 pound Keating had a decorated OHL career, which was spent entirely with the 67's. He began his career with 13 goals and 19 assists in 50 games during his rookie season in 2015-2016, improving to 22 goals and 41 assists in 67 games the following season. He slipped to 52 points (24 goals, 28 assists) in 66 games in 2017-2018, but elevated his game to another level with 22 goals and 67 assists in 68 games in 2018-2019 and 32 goals and 57 assists in only 58 games last season before the season ended abruptly. He was also an impressive +114 over the last two seasons. Overall, Keating put up 113 goals, 212 assists, and 325 points in 309 career OHL games while accumulating only 84 minutes in penalties. He added 5 goals and 17 assists in 34 playoff contests during his career.

Keating's 325 regular season points made him the highest-scoring CHL overager available this summer.

Head coach Gardiner MacDougall describes Keating, who was named as one of the OHL's most underrated players in a recent coaches poll, as "an impact player...bringing a great two-way game, tremendous offensive instincts, and excellent hockey savvy both ends of the rink." He is also known as a "hard-working forward who excels as a playmaker...a pass-first centre who possesses good offensive zone vision and passing ability, battles hard for loose pucks and is willing to support his defensemen in his own zone." Further, Keating "is a smart power forward...he has a strong net presence and is tough to move off the puck. He is hard to play against and will use his size to his advantage."

Given his impressive pedigree, it's not hard to imagine Keating being a prime candidate to fill one of the two vacancies on the Reds top line created by the graduation of Stephen Anderson and Patrick Watling.

With one of the top available forwards now in the fold - plus some juicy hot-stove rumours out there - it appears the Reds are well on their way to having a very productive summer.

Lethbridge Cut Hockey Teams

The U Sports hockey community was dealt a blow yesterday when the University of Lethbridge announced they were cutting both their men's and women's hockey programs.

In a press release, the university cited three consecutive years of "significant reductions to its operating grant" and that the "elimination of the hockey programs is one of a number of budget reduction strategies in response to unprecedented cuts from the provincial government."

While the men's team struggled on the ice in recent years, they won a national championship in 1994 under the guidance of future NHL-coach Mike Babcock.

They have some recent connections with the Reds. Lethbridge traveled to Fredericton for an exhibition game in December of 2018 and they, of course, hosted the 2019 University Cup, where UNB won their 8th national title.

The move impacts 52 student-athletes along with numerous recruits and coaches.

Harvey Earns Monthly Award

University of New Brunswick Reds goaltender Samuel Harvey was named the U Sports male Athlete of the Month for March after helping guide the Reds to their third straight AUS Championship.

Harvey was rock solid after a 3-1 loss to the Acadia Axemen in game one of the best 2-of-3 final. He turned aside all 36 shots he faced in a 6-0 road victory in game two before stopping 18 out of 19 shots in the third, and deciding game, 1 5-1 UNB victory. He was named the AUS Playoff MVP for his efforts.

The netminder's performance capped a successful rookie campaign for Harvey. He was 14-2 with a 0.912 save percentage and 1.87 GAA in the regular season. He then upped his game even further in the postseason, going 4-1 with a 0.946 save percentage and 1.21 GAA.

Thursday, April 9, 2020

A Look Ahead

With it now almost a month since the 2020 University Cup was cancelled, it is time to start looking towards the 2020-2021 season. 

Daily Gleaner (subscription required) sports editor and columnist Bruce Hallihan caught up with head coach Gardiner MacDougall earlier this week and the seven-time University Cup champion stated the team will be losing "five or six players - impact players at both forward and D." 

Of course, we all knew defenceman, and captain, Marcus McIvor, along with forwards Stephen Anderson and Patrick Watling, would not be returning as all three have exhausted their five years of eligibility. However, MacDougall also confirmed that neither centre Mark Simpson nor defenceman Matt Murphy will be back for a fifth season after graduating this year. The status of Oliver Cooper is still up in the air, but MacDougall hopes the forward will return for a fifth season.

These are significant departures for the Reds as Watling and Anderson were both first line/point per game players this past season while Simpson was one of the top two way centres in the league thanks to his exceptional penalty killing and face-off prowess. Meanwhile, McIvor and Murphy were both rocks on the back-end, chewing up a ton of minutes and playing in all situations. All five players graduate with at least one national championship ring, with Anderson and McIvor earning three during their careers. 

This means MacDougall and his coaching staff will have some work to do this summer as they try to replace the talent and experience each of the graduating players brought to the program. 

While the Reds haven't officially announced any recruits yet, the head coach did say that things are "progressing favourably."

Boland Named UNB Athlete of the Year

A little late to the party with this one as we are still coming to grips with the sudden end to the 2019-2020 hockey season... 

The University of New Brunswick Reds held their annual awards gala last week in a day long celebration across their social media platforms and men's hockey forward Tyler Boland, who led the country in scoring, was named the winner of the James Downey Shield, given annually to the Reds male Athlete of the Year.

Goaltender Samuel Harvey was named UNB's male Rookie of the Year.

Unsurprisingly, Boland and Harvey were also named the men's hockey MVP and rookie of the year, respectively.

Other award winners from the men's hockey team included goaltender Rylan Parenteau (men's hockey Red & Black Award), assistant coach Brad Good (James Born Award for his significant contributions to the Reds), and defenceman Matt Murphy (Chet and Helen Campbell Ring of Distinction).   

Additionally, Stephen Anderson, Marcus McIvor, Patrick Watling, Mark Simpson, and Matt Murphy were recognized as graduating athletes. 

Thursday, March 12, 2020

University Cup Cancelled

It is being reported that due to increasing COVID-19 concerns, the remainder of the 2020 University Cup has been cancelled. Here is the official statement from U Sports:

This is obviously very disappointing news for the Reds and their fans as UNB was the odds on favourites to repeat as champions, especially after the #2 seeded Saskatchewan Huskies were upset on Thursday afternoon. The Reds sent out a couple of tweets in wake of the news:


Wednesday, March 11, 2020

U Sports Hands Out Hardware

The annual U Sports All-Canadian gala was held tonight in Halifax and a pair of Reds players were honoured.

Forward Tyler Boland was named a first team all-star while goaltender Samuel Harvey was named to the all-rookie team.

Here is the complete list of honourees:

Player of the Year (Senator Joseph A. Sullivan Trophy): G Taran Kozun, Saskatchewan
Goaltender of the Year: G Taran Kozun, Saskatchewan
Rookie of the Year (Clare Drake Award): F Mitchell Balmas, Saint Mary's
Defenceman of the Year: D Nikolas Brouillard, McGill
Most Sportsmanlike Player (R.W. Pugh Fair Play Award): F Levi Cable, Saskatchewan
Student-Athlete Community Service Award (Dr. Randy Gregg Award): Liam Maaskant, Acadia
Coach of the Year (Father George Kehoe Memorial Award): Ryan Medel, Toronto

First Team All-Stars
G - Taran Kozun, Saskatchewan
D - Nick Welsh, Saint Mary's
D - Nikolas Brouillard, McGill
F - David Thomson, Toronto
F - Tyler Boland, UNB
F - Grayson Pawlenchuk, Alberta

Second Team All-Stars
G - Logan Flodell, Acadia
D - Owen Headrick, UPEI
D - Adam Henry, Manitoba
F - Mitchell Balmas, Saint Mary's
F - Chris Paquette, RMC
F - Matt Alfaro, Calgary

All-Rookie Team
G - Samuel Harvey, UNB
D - Dawson Davidson, Alberta
D - Jordan Sambrook, Brock
F - Mitchell Balmas, Saint Mary's
F - Chris Paquette, RMC
F - Jared Dmytriw, Saskatchewan

The 2020 University Cup gets underway tomorrow with games at 2PM (Saskatchewan vs. Western) and 7PM (Saint Mary's vs. Guelph). If you can't make it to Halifax, you watch the entire tournament online here.

Monday, March 9, 2020

UNB vs. UBC: Preview, Prediction, Poll

If someone had said at the beginning of the season that the University of New Brunswick Reds would open the 2020 University Cup against the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds, you probably would have thought they were crazy.

But here we are.

The two teams will meet for the first time ever at 2PM on Friday afternoon in the third of four quarter-final match-ups. For the #1 ranked Reds, this is old hat of course. This will be their 12th appearance at the national tournament in the last 14 seasons with seven of those ending with a championship. But for the 8th seeded Thunderbirds, this marks their first trip to nationals in 42 years.

UBC struggled through an inconsistent regular season. They were winless through their first five games (0-3-2) and were 4-9-3 at the Christmas break. They would eventually fall to 4-11-5 before winning five out of their last eight games to finish 9-14-5, which was good enough for 5th place in the Canada West conference and a quarter-final match-up against the Mount Royal Cougars, a team that finished 15 points ahead of them in the standings. UBC would take the first game 4-2 before falling 5-3 in the second contest to send the series to a winner-take-all game three, where perhaps the turning point for the Thunderbirds season came. They held a 4-1 lead late in the 2nd period only to see the Cougars storm back to tie the game with two seconds remaining in regulation. With all of the momentum in their favour, it would not have come as any surprise if the Cougars completed the comeback. The T-Birds had other ideas though as Austin Vetterl scored 12:52 into overtime to send UBC to the Canada West semi-finals for the first time since 2007.

Waiting for them were the top ranked 23-5-0 Alberta Golden Bears, who had enjoyed a first round playoff bye. Even after the Thunderbirds shocked the Bears with a 3-2 overtime win in game one, many did not give UBC a chance at finishing the job, largely due to the fact they were out-shot 53-17 in the game. It seemed the pundits would be correct after Alberta walloped UBC 6-1 in the second game to even the series. However, the T-Birds once again had other plans and, in the process, turned the U Sports hockey world on its head. In one of the biggest upsets in recent memory, UBC stunned the Bears with a 2-1 victory, despite being out-shot 41-19, in the deciding game. The win locked up a University Cup berth and sent the Thunderbirds to the Canada West championship in search of their first conference crown since 1978.

Unfortunately, the magic ran out in Saskatoon against the #2 ranked Saskatchewan Huskies (22-4-2). Although they played the Huskies tough, UBC were swept by scores of 3-2 and 3-1.

On the season the Thunderbirds were one of the most offensively-challenged teams in the country, ranking 32nd (out of 35 teams) with only 2.57 goals per game and 26th with 30.5 shots per game. They rely heavily on their power play, which posted a respectable 21.7% success rate, good for 9th best in the nation. However, they will be in tough against a Reds team that led the country in goals against average (1.86) and shots allowed per game (20.7) and were 5th best at killing penalties (86.8%). Additionally, Samuel Harvey and Rylan Parenteau combined for a 0.910 save percentage, which ranked 10th in the nation.

Individually, UBC is led by forwards Tyler Sandhu (12 goals, 23 points), Austin Vetterl (19 points), Jake Kryski (18), and Carter Popoff (16). Jerret Smith (15) was their only defenceman to crack double digits in points. Overall, the T-Birds only had nine players notch at least ten points. By comparison, UNB had two 40 point scorers, seven 30 points scorers, and 11 20 point scorers.

Defensively, the Thunderbirds ranked 18th in the country with a 2.99 GAA and 26th with a 0.892 save percentage. They did feature an above average penalty kill, coming in at 14th overall with an 82.5 success rate and were one of the better teams at limiting shots on goal, only giving up 28 per game. Rylan Toth is their go-to-guy between the pipes as he played in 23 out of their 28 regular season games, putting up a 2.78 GAA and 0.902 save percentage in a conference-leading 1379 minutes. Of course, they will be trying to contain a UNB offense that paced the country in most categories, including goals per game (5.33), shots per game (41.7), and power play goals (47). The Reds also placed second in power play percentage (30.5%) and shorthanded goals (8), proving that you can't take a break against their line-up, even when you are up a man.

PREDICTION: Any team that goes into Clare Drake Arena in Edmonton and knocks off the Golden Bears deserves to be taken seriously. Rylan Toth showed that he can steal a series, let alone a single game - and the T-Birds played two close games against a very good Saskatchewan team in the CW Final - so nothing is guaranteed. Having said that, he will likely need to turn in another all-world performance to give the Thunderbirds a chance in this game. I know we seem to say this every year, but the Reds depth and skill will prove to be too much over 60 minutes for an inexperienced UBC squad. Ultimately, while Toth and the T-Birds keep it close for awhile, UNB pulls away for a comfortable victory to move on to semi-final Saturday.

POLL: Who do you got?


Who wins?

UNB in a close one (1 or 2 goals)
UNB in a blowout (3+ goals)
UBC
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UNB At The University Cup

The University of New Brunswick Reds are scheduled to head to Halifax, Nova Scotia Tuesday for the 2020 University Cup. The 58th edition of the event begins on Thursday afternoon and wraps up with the Gold Medal game on Sunday night.

This will be their 19th appearance all-time at the tournament, including their 17th in the last 24 years, and 14th in 20 seasons under head coach Gardiner MacDougall.

Here is how they have made out at the previous 18 tournaments:

1964 (Kingston): 1-1 (Lost in semi-final)
1984 (Fredericton): 0-2 (Lost in Atlantic regional)
1997 (Toronto): 1-1 (Lost in final)
1998 (Saskatoon): 3-0 (Won championship)
2000 (Saskatoon): 2-1 (Lost in final)
2003 (Fredericton): 1-2 (Lost in semi-final + bronze medal game)
2004 (Fredericton): 2-1 (Lost in final)
2007 (Moncton): 3-0 (Won championship)
2008 (Moncton): 2-1 (Lost in final)
2009 (Thunder Bay): 3-0 (Won championship)
2011 (Fredericton): 3-0 (Won championship)
2012 (Fredericton): 1-1 (Lost in semi-final)
2013 (Saskatoon): 3-0 (Won championship)
2015 (Halifax): 2-1 (Lost in final)
2016 (Halifax): 3-0 (Won championship)
2017 (Fredericton): 3-0 (Won championship)
2018 (Fredericton): 2-1 (Lost in semi-final, Won bronze medal game)
2019 (Lethbridge): 3-0 (Won championship)

Some notes of interest:

- The Varsity Reds 8 championships rank 3rd to Alberta (16) and Toronto (10).

- Their 13 appearances in the championship game is tied with Toronto for second most all-time. Only Alberta (22) have appeared in more.

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

- The V-Reds have won 7 titles and appeared in 9 title games in the last 13 years.

- They have reached the gold medal game in 13 out of their last 16 appearances at the tournament.

- Interestingly, the three times they failed to reach the final, the tournament was held in Fredericton. The last ten times they have had to travel to the University Cup, the Reds have played in the championship game.

- UNB have won their opening game at the tournament in each of their previous 16 appearances.

- The Reds will be playing in their 6th straight tournament for the first time in school history.

- With three titles in the last four seasons, seniors Stephen Anderson and Marcus McIvor will looking to become the first UNB players to win four championships.

-  The Reds have played in a medal game in each of their previous six appearances at the tournament.

- UNB is 38-12 all-time at the University Cup, which equates to a 0.760 winning percentage. They are 31-7 (0.816) under Gardiner MacDougall.

- This includes 28 wins in their last 32 games.

- In the 50 games they have played at the University Cup, UNB have have out-scored the opposition 208-121 for an average of 4.16 goals per game and 2.42 goals against per game.

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

- They are 7-3 all-time in games decided in overtime.

- In their previous two appearances at the University Cup in Halifax they won a silver medal (2015) and gold meda (2016).

- The Reds have never played a University Cup game against UBC. Their all-time University Cup record against the other participating schools is 6-0 against Saskatchewan, 4-1 against Western, 2-0 against Acadia, 2-0 against Saint Mary's, 1-1 against Guelph, and 1-0 against Ottawa. 

- Next season the University Cup will head to Charlottetown, PEI.

Harvey Takes Weekly Award

Goaltender Samuel Harvey has been named the UNB Reds/Papa John's Pizza male Athlete of the Week after backstopping the Reds to a 3rd consecutive AUS championship this past week.

The freshman followed up an impressive rookie season with an even better playoff, going 4-1 with a 1.21 GAA and a 0.946 save percentage on route to being named MVP. He was especially brilliant during the most important games of the year as he gave up only three goals on 73 shots during the three game series victory over the Acadia Axemen.

After winning a Memorial Cup as a member of the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies at the Scotiabank Centre last season, Harvey will look to replicate that feat this weekend as the Reds head to Halifax for the University Cup. They open the tournament at 2PM on Friday afternoon against the UBC Thunderbirds.

Sunday, March 8, 2020

University Cup Seeds/Schedule Announced

The seedings and quarter-final match-ups for the upcoming 2020 University Cup have been announced and the University of New Brunswick Reds have been deemed the team to beat, entering the tournament as the top seed.

Although many predicted UNB would face the OUA bronze medal-winning Western Mustangs in their first game, the Reds will instead meet the Canada West runner-up, and #8 seeded, University of British Columbia Thunderbirds in their opening game on Friday afternoon. The rest of the schedule looks like this (all times are AST):

THURSDAY, MARCH 12th

2PM - #2 Saskatchewan Huskies vs. #7 Western Mustangs
7PM - #3 Guelph Gryphons vs. #6 Saint Mary's Huskies

FRIDAY, MARCH 13th

2PM - #1 UNB Reds vs #8 UBC Thunderbirds
7PM - #4 Ottawa Gee-Gees vs #5 Acadia Axemen

SATURDAY, MARCH 14th

2PM - Semi-Final #1 (Thursday Winners)
7PM - Semi-Final #2 (Friday Winners)

SUNDAY

2PM - Bronze Medal Game
7PM - Gold Medal Game

Unfortunately, none of the games will be broadcast on television this year. Instead, all games will be streamed live on CBCSports.ca, CBC Gem, and the CBC Sports App.

Tournament passes are now available online. Single game tickets go on sale tomorrow at noon.

Saturday, March 7, 2020

University Cup Field Set

The Western Mustangs kept their unlikely postseason run alive this afternoon with a 5-2 victory over the Concordia Stingers in the OUA bronze medal game.

With the victory the Mustangs - who finished 8th in the OUA West division with an 11-13-4 record this season - also earn the 8th, and final, berth at next week's University Cup in Halifax. They will most likely draw the #1 ranked and defending champion UNB Reds in their opening game at the tournament.

The OUA Champion will be determined tonight as the Guelph Gryphons host the Ottawa Gee-Gees in the 109th Queen's Cup.

Friday, March 6, 2020

Reds Get It Done

(Photo credit - UNB Athletics Twitter)

The road to the 2020 University Cup will go through the defending champions.

The University of New Brunswick Reds captured their third straight AUS title with a 5-1 victory over the Acadia Axemen before a sold-out crowd in the deciding game of the AUS Final tonight at the Aitken Centre. The win almost certainly ensures UNB will enter next week's University Cup as the number one seed and the team to beat.

It was a tight-checking and tentative first period as both teams seemed to be feeling out the other and weary of making a costly mistake. The Reds out-shot the Axemen 9-6 over the scoreless opening twenty minutes as neither side was able to generate much in the way of offense.

UNB stormed out of the gate in the 2nd period and started to assert control of the game. They were rewarded at the 2:51 mark when an extended shift in the offensive zone ultimately led to the puck coming out from behind the net to Oliver Cooper (Dove-McFalls, Rassell), who was all alone in the slot. Cooper fired a wrist shot that beat Axemen goaltender Logan Flodell, bringing the sold-out crowd to its feet with the game's opening goal. After a pair of unsuccessful power plays mid-way through the period the Reds were able to extend their lead at 15:48. Alexandre Goulet (Pomerleau, Simpson), who somehow missed a wide open net earlier in the period after Flodell had lost track of the puck, got the puck out near the blue-line and let a shot go that eluded traffic in front and found the back of the net. UNB would take the 2-0 lead into the final period.

Down to their final twenty minutes of the series, the Axemen came out strong in the 3rd period as they not only limited the Reds to a single shot over the first eight minutes, but also got back into the game when Ross MacDougall's point shot along the ice beat Samuel Harvey, ending Harvey's shut-out streak at 145 minutes. The goal, which came at the 1:08 mark, quieted the crowd and created some nervous energy in the building. This was heightened a few shifts later when the Axemen came perilously close to tying the game on a goalmouth scramble. The Reds power play would again get back to back chances - their 4th and 5th straight power play of the night - to extend their lead, but once again it came up empty. They were finally able to add some insurance at 14:27 with Goulet (Pomerleau, Boucher) hammering home a one-timer. Only five seconds later the Axemen got an opportunity to get that one back when they were given a power play of their own. As the man advantage ticked down Acadia elected to pull Flodell for an extra attacker, however this quickly backfired when Mark Simpson (McIvor) won a race for a loose puck and guided the puck into the empty net. The back-breaking goal gave the Reds a 4-1 lead with 3:37 remaining. After the goal frustrations started to boil over for the Axemen as Cristiano Digiacinto, who is no stranger to playing on the edge, cross-checked Connor Hall. The cheap-shot cost the Axemen's leading scorer two minutes in the penalty box and the Reds power play finally came through when Goulet (Simpson) pounced on a rebound to complete his hat-trick and make it 5-1 at 16:52. That's how the game would end as UNB held a 14-8 shot advantage in the period.

- After a one game absence Ben Hawerchuk was back in the line-up, replacing James McEwan, and Noah Carroll saw his first postseason action, taking the spot of Olivier LeBlanc. Benjamin Gagne and Dylan Seitz both remained out.

- Shots ended up 44-19 for UNB.

- The Reds got the late power play goal and were 1 for 6 on the night, but for the most part it still looked disorganized and sloppy. The Axemen went 0 for 2 on the night and were 0 for the series with the man advantage.

- UNB won 51 out of 88 face-offs. Mark Simpson (15 out of 20) was the top performer.

- Alexandre Goulet and Ross MacDougall were named the player of the game for their respective teams.

- Attendance was 3374.

- Samuel Harvey was named the AUS Playoff MVP. He was 4-1 with a league-leading 1.21 GAA and 0.946 during the postseason. He was at his best with UNB's back to the wall as he only gave up one goal on 55 shots over the last two elimination games.

- A strong MVP case could have also been made for both Stephen Anderson (2 goals, 7 assists) and Alexandre Goulet (9 goals, including two hat-tricks, +6).

- This is the first time since Gardiner MacDougall's very first playoff series at UNB - the 2001 quarter-finals - that the Reds rallied to win a series. Coincidentally, that series was also against Acadia. UNB lost the first game 5-1 in on the road before taking game two (4-3) and three (3-1) on home ice.

- The four goal victory is UNB's largest in a deciding game since 2006 when they beat St. FX 9-3 in game three of the quarter-finals.

- With the Reds entering the University Cup as the number one seed they will likely face the OUA bronze medalist in their opening game. That team will be determined tomorrow afternoon when the Western Mustangs host the Concordia Stingers.

- For Acadia, they will probably be seeded fifth and face the OUA runner-up in their first game, which has already been announced as taking place on Friday night. The OUA Championship will be determined tomorrow night as the Guelph Gryphons host the Ottawa Gee-Gees in the Queen's Cup.

- Up next for UNB is the 2020 University Cup in Halifax. The on-ice action gets underway at 2PM on Thursday. The seedings and full schedule are usually announced on Sunday so stay tuned.

Thursday, March 5, 2020

UNB In Deciding Games

The 2020 AUS champion will be crowned tomorrow night at the Aitken Centre as the University of New Brunswick Reds and Acadia Axemen play a third and deciding game to determine conference supremacy. 

This will be the 18th winner-take-all game UNB has participated in since 1984. Here is the full list:

1984 (semi-finals) - defeated Acadia 8-2 at home
1990 (quarter-finals) - lost to UPEI 6-2 at home
1994 (semi-finals) - defeated Moncton 8-4 at home
1995 (quarter-finals) - lost to St. Thomas 9-3 at home
1996 (quarter-finals) - lost to UPEI 1-0 at home
1998 (quarter-finals) - defeated UPEI 5-4 at home
1998 (finals) - defeated Acadia 3-2 at home
1999 (quarter-finals) - lost to Moncton 5-4 OT2 at home
2000 (semi-finals) - defeated St. Thomas 7-0 on the road
2001 (quarter-finals) - defeated Acadia 3-1 at home
2001 (semi-finals) - lost to St. FX 5-4 OT2 on the road
2003 (semi-finals) - defeated St. Thomas 4-1 on the road
2006 (quarter-finals) - defeated St. FX 9-3 at home
2009 (finals) - lost to Saint Mary's 5-1 at home
2011 (finals) - defeated St. FX 5-4 OT at home
2013 (finals) - defeated Saint Mary's 2-0 at home
2015 (semi-finals) - defeated St. FX 6-3 at home

- UNB is 11-6 all-time in deciding games.

- 14 of the previous 17 games have been played on home ice. They are 9-5 in those games.

- This will be the 5th time they have played a winner-take-all game for the AUS Championship. They have won three of the previous four games with all of them occurring at the AUC.

- They have won all three previous games against Acadia - in 1984 (semi-finals), 1998 (finals), and 2001 (quarter-finals). 

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Reds Stave Off Elimination

There will be one final game played at the Aitken Centre this season.

With their backs to the wall, Samuel Harvey stopped all 36 shots he faced and the offense scored twice in each period as the University of New Brunswick Reds silenced a sell-out crowd in Wolfville with a 6-0 victory over the Acadia Axemen tonight in game two of the AUS Final. The championship will now come down to game three, which takes place on Friday night back in Fredericton.

- The Reds did exactly what they needed to do in the 1st period by scoring early in the game and then adding another before the end of the frame to take the energy out of the building. Samuel Dove McFalls (Watling, Anderson)0 opened the scoring at the 3:52 mark when Patrick Watling drove to the net and got pushed into Logan Flodell. The puck popped out into the slot and Dove-McFalls found the empty net before Flodell could get back to his feet. UNB would extend the lead at 12:28. Moments after failing once again to score with an extended two man advantage - 1:57 this time - Mark Rassell (Boucher, Murphy) jumped on a rebound in front and swept it under Flodell. While the goal was technically an even strength goal, neither penalized player had gotten back into the play yet. The Reds would take the 2-0 lead into the dressing room after out-shooting Acadia 13-11 in the period.

- The 2nd period was controlled basically from start to finish by Acadia and they held a 16-6 shot advantage over the twenty minutes. However, Samuel Harvey and the Reds penalty killers - who had to kill a 1:57 two man disadvantage of their own - were huge in keeping the buzzing Axemen off the board. To make matters worse for Acadia, despite their limited chances the Reds were able to score twice more, with both goals the result of breaks they couldn't take advantage of on Monday. At 7:12 Stephen Anderson forced an Axemen defender to make an ill-advised pass right to Patrick Watling in front of the net. Watling worked the puck from his left to right before tucking the puck around Flodell's left leg. Then, at 13:15, Kris Bennett's hard dump-in into the left corner came off the boards and directly to Anderson. His shot was stopped, but the rebound found the stick of a charging Tyler Boland and the AUS scoring champion was able to get just enough of the puck to re-direct it in.

- The Reds power play finally came to life in the 3rd period, accounting for both goals. At 10:16 Matt Murphy (Gatenby, Anderson) picked the far top corner to make it 5-0 and then Alexandre Goulet hammered home a Oliver Cooper pass at 18:41 to cap the scoring on the night. Shots in the period were 13-9 for UNB.

- UNB made one line-up change as James McEwan dressed in place of Ben Hawerchuk.

- Shots in the game were 36-32 for Acadia. It is the first time all year the Reds have been out-shot and the first time since October 19th, 2018 they were out-shot by an AUS team, a span of 66 games.

- As mentioned, Samuel Harvey was an absolute rock in net tonight, preventing the Axemen from getting any momentum with numerous clutch stops.

- The Axemen won 37 out of 70 face-offs. Tyler Boland (12 out of 17) had the best night of anyone on UNB.

- While UNB's power play got off the schneid, scoring on their last two opportunities to finish 2 for 5, the Axemen continue to struggle with the man advantage, going 0 for 7 on the night.  They are now 0 for 13 in the series.

- Harvey, Cristiano Digiacinto, and Murphy were the game's three stars.

- A sell-out crowd of 2362 was on hand.

- Hockey is a funny game. The Reds out-shoot the Axemen 53-19 in game one and lose and then get out-shot 36-32 and win. The difference being tonight they had the locked in goaltender, got some breaks and puck luck, and won the special teams battle.

- UNB will be playing in their first winner-take-all AUS playoff game since defeating St. FX 6-3 in game five of the 2015 semi-finals.

- It will be their first time playing a winner-take-all game in the AUS Final since 2013. They defeated Saint Mary's 2-0 in game three that season to claim their 3rd straight AUS title.

- In the consolation series, Saint Mary’s clinched their berth at the University Cup with a 4-3 triple overtime win in Moncton. It gives the Huskies a two game sweep over the Aigles Bleus.

- Game three goes Friday night at 7PM. Get your tickets early as it should be close to a sell-out. If you can't make it to the AUC, watch live at AUStv.ca.

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

U Sports AUS/OUA Playoff Schedule

While the Saskatchewan Huskies claimed the Canada West crown last weekend with a two game sweep of the UBC Thunderbirds, there is still lots to be settled as both the AUS and OUA championship and 3rd place finishers - which will determined the final two University Cup berth - are still up for grabs. Here are the schedules for the rest of the U Sports playoffs:


ATLANTIC UNIVERSITY SPORT
- Three berths at University Cup: Host (Acadia) + Finalist (UNB) + Consolation Winner (SMU/Moncton)

FINAL
#1 UNB Reds (26-4-0) vs. #2 Acadia Axemen (19-9-2)

Game 1 - Monday, March 2nd at UNB
Game 2 - Wednesday, March 4th at Acadia
Game 3 - Friday, March 6th at UNB (if necessary)

CONSOLATION
#3 Saint Mary's Huskies (17-12-1) vs. #4 Moncton Aigles Bleus (13-11-6)

Game 1 - Monday, March 2nd at Saint Mary's
Game 2 - Wednesday, March 4th at Moncton
Game 3 - Friday, March 6th at Saint Mary's (if necessary)

ONTARIO UNIVERSITY ATHLETICS
- Three berths at University Cup: OUA East Winner (Ottawa) + OUA West Winner (Guelph) + Bronze Medal Winner (Concordia/Western)

QUEEN'S CUP
#3 Ottawa Gee-Gees (17-7-4) at #3 Guelph Gryphons (17-6-5)

Saturday, March 7th (8PM AST)

OUA WEST
#5 Concordia Stingers (13-10-5) at #8 Western Mustangs (11-13-4)

Saturday, March 7th (4PM AST)


U Sports Playoff Update: Huskies Take CW, Queen's Cup Set

With another week of U Sports playoff action in the books, the field for the University Cup is beginning to come into focus. Out west the Saskatchewan Huskies swept the UBC Thunderbirds to capture their first Canada West championship since 2016. Meanwhile, in the OUA the Ottawa Gee-Gees and Guelph Gryphons advanced to the Queen's Cup, earning a berth at the University Cup in the process. The rest of the field, as well as the seedings, will be determined this week as both the AUS and OUA playoffs conclude.

NOTE: Both AUS series' are best 2-of-3, the Queen's Cup and OUA Bronze Medal are winner-take-all

ATLANTIC UNIVERSITY SPORT
- Three berths at University Cup: Host (Acadia) + Finalist (UNB) + Consolation Winner (SMU/Moncton)

#2 Acadia Axemen (19-9-2) lead #1 UNB Reds (26-4-0) 1 game to 0 (3-1)

#3 Saint Mary's Huskies lead #4 Moncton Aigles Bleus 1 game to 0 (4-2)


ONTARIO UNIVERSITY ATHLETICS
- Three berths at University Cup: OUA East Chmapion (Ottawa) + OUA West Champion (Guelph) + Bronze Medal Winner (Concordia/Western)

OUA EAST

#3 Ottawa Gee-Gees (17-7-4) defeated #5 Concordia Stingers (13-10-5) 2 games to 0 (3-2, 7-2)

OUA WEST

#3 Guelph Gryphons (17-6-5) defeated #8 Western Mustangs (11-13-4) 2 games to 1 (2-1 OT, 3-4, 4-3)

CANADA WEST
- Two berths at University Cup: Saskatchewan (Champion) + UBC (Runner-Up)

#2 Saskatchewan Huskies (22-4-2) defeated #5 UBC Thunderbirds (9-14-5) 2 games to 0 (3-2, 3-1)

Monday, March 2, 2020

Reds On The Ropes

A 52 save performance from AUS MVP Logan Flodell, at least three hit posts, some puck luck, and a power outage by the Reds usually-explosive power play added up to a 3-1 victory for the visiting Acadia Axemen in game one of the best 2-of-3 AUS Final tonight at the AUC. The victory - Acadia's first at the Aitken Centre since the fall of 2015 - means they can clinch the AUS Championship Wednesday night in Wolfville.

- The Axemen jumped out to a 2-0 lead after twenty minutes thanks to goals by Cristiano Digiacinto at 5:53 and Rodney Southam, while shorthanded, at 15:10.

- Matthew Boucher (Bennett, Boland) finally got UNB on the board at the 12:09 mark of the second period with a snap shot off the post and in, cutting the lead to 2-1.

- That's how the game would stand until Alexander Lepkowksi found an empty net with 80 seconds remaining, sealing the win.

- Shots in the game were 53-19 for UNB with period totals of 17-4, 15-11, and 21-4.

- The Reds went with their usual line-up as Noah Carroll, Benjamin Gagne, Jame McEwan, and Dylan Seitz were the scratches.

- As mentioned, the Reds power play was shut down all night and was probably the biggest factor in the loss. UNB went 0 for 8 with the man advantage, which included over two and a half minutes of 5-on-3 time. They are now 3 for 28 on the power play against Acadia this season.

- The Axemen were 0 for 6 on the power play.

- UNB won 52 out of 81 face-offs with both Mark Simpson and Tyler Boland winning 15 out of 21.

- Attendance was 3124.

- Flodell and Boucher were the players of the game.

- After giving up two goals on the first six shots he faced, Samuel Harvey settled down and kept his team in it.

- The loss snaps UNB's AUS playoff winning streak at 13 games.

- In game one of the consolation series, Saint Mary's doubled up Moncton 4-2 in Halifax. That series resumes Wednesday night in Moncton.

- Game two of this series also takes place on Wednesday with the Axemen looking to claim their first AUS Championship since the 2014-2015 season. Game time is 7PM.

Saturday, February 29, 2020

AUS Final: Preview, Prediction, Poll

The U Sports #1 ranked University of New Brunswick Reds will be gunning for their third consecutive AUS championship when they face in the AUS #2 ranked Acadia Axemen in the best 2-of-3 AUS Final beginning Monday in Fredericton. The series will shift to Wolfville for game 2 on Wednesday night before returning to the AUC for game 3 on Friday, if necessary. All games are scheduled for a 7PM puck drop.

This will mark the 7th time these two teams have met in the playoffs since Gardiner MacDougall became head coach. The Reds won a quarter-final series in three games in 2001 before the Axemen swept UNB in back to back years in 2005 and 2006, the latter of which was a three game sweep in the AUS Final. The last three series have been all UNB, however, with a three game semi-final sweep in 2009, a three games to one semi-final victory in 2011, and a two game sweep in the 2015 AUS Final, which is the last time these two teams met in the playoffs.

The 2019-2020 edition of the Axemen rebounded from a tough season last year to prove to be a formidable opponent for much of the season. They began the year 9-1-0 and entered the Christmas break in 1st place with a 14-4-0 record, which they eventually improved to 17-4-0. However, as they have been prone to do in recent years, they stumbled down the stretch, going 2-5-2 to end up with a record of 19-9-2, 12 points behind the league-leading Reds. It was still enough to finish in second place and earn a first round playoff bye. Although they were guaranteed a spot at the University Cup as the tournament host, they earned their way by knocking off the Saint Mary's Huskies in four games.

The Axemen were especially tough on UNB this season, handing the Reds two of their four losses. The season series was incredibly even with both teams winning a two goal game in Wolfville (6-4 for Acadia on September 28th and 4-2 for UNB on January 31st) and a one goal game on home ice (a last minute Tyler Boland goal lifted the Reds to a 4-3 win at the AUC on November 9th while the Axemen answered with a 3-2 victory three weeks later). The only thing separating the two was UNB's 2-1 shoot-out win in Fredericton on January 9th in what was the most entertaining game on the season. Overall, each team scored 15 goals in the five games. This was the fewest goals UNB scored and the most they allowed against any opponent this season.

Offensively this season, Acadia ranked 3rd in the conference in goals scored (3.77 per game) and shots on goal (33.3 per game) and 4th on the power play (20.9%, although they received the second fewest opportunities in the league). Against UNB they only averaged 3.00 goals per game and 25 shots per game, but their power play clicked at 24% (6 for 25).

Individually, the Axemen boast a fairly balanced attack with 13 players registering double digit points. They were led by Cristiano Digiacinto, who tied for the league lead with 20 goals and was 8th in scoring with 37 points. Other players to watch include former AUS scoring champion Stephen Haroer (29 points in 23 games), second team all-star defenceman Garrett McFadden (28 points), Mason McCarty (20 points), Maurizio Colella (18 points), and Jack Flaman and Owen MacDonald (10 goals each). They will be without Jordy Stallard (23 points in 25 games), however, as head coach Darren Burns has already ruled him out for the series.

Much like Moncton, the strength of the Axemen comes in goal. Logan Flodell's league leading 16 wins and 0.918 save percentage, to go along with a 2.79 GAA (3rd), in over 1500 minutes in goal earned him AUS MVP honours this season as he was the biggest reason for their dramatic turnaround. Despite being out-shot on the season and giving up almost 34 shots per game, Acadia's 0.916 save percentage was best in the league and their 85 goals allowed placed behind only UNB's 56. Their penalty killing was 3rd at 82.4% on the season and was especially effective against UNB, holding the Reds number one ranked power play to three goals on 20 opportunities.

Overall, it is hard to bet against the Reds right now. While Acadia has been inconsistent since the beginning of the second half, UNB has been rolling to the tune of a current 18 game winning streak. Flodell may have had an outstanding season, and is a very deserving MVP, but if the Reds continue to pile up 35-40 shots per game, they are bound to score a few. On the flip side, UNB's defence limits shots on goal better than any team in the country, and their goaltending duo of Samuel Harvey/Rylan Parenteau are no slouches themselves, posting the second best save percentage in the AUS. During the five regular season meetings the great equalizer were the special teams, which Acadia held the advantage. It would be surprising to see that trend holding up into this series. Also, expect home ice advantage to be especially crucial in this series. Much has been made about UNB's struggles in Wolfville over the last decade, but it should be noted that the Reds are 32-0-3 at the AUC against the Axemen since the beginning of the 2006-2007 season.

PREDICTION: UNB in 3. The home team wins every game, giving the Reds their first AUS title on home-ice since 2013 and the #1 seed at the University Cup.

POLL: Who do you got?


Who wins?

UNB in 2
UNB in 3
Acadia
Created with QuizMaker

Thursday, February 27, 2020

UNB In The AUS Final

Another season. Another AUS Final appearance for the University of New Brunswick Reds.

For the 6th straight year - and 9th time in ten seasons - the Reds will be participating in the conference final thanks to a three game sweep of the Moncton Aigles Bleus in the semi-finals.

The best 2-of-3 AUS Final kicks off Monday night at the AUC against the second place Acadia Axemen, who dispatched Saint Mary's in four game in the other semi-final. The series shifts to Wolfville for game two on Wednesday night before returning to Fredericton for game three, if necessary, on Friday. Saint Mary's and Moncton will follow a similar schedule for their consolation series, which will determine the AUS' third berth at next month's University Cup.

Overall, this will mark UNB's 20th appearance in the conference championship since 1984.

Here is how they have fared in those series:

1984 - Defeated Moncton 2 games to 0
1993 - Lost to Acadia 2 games to 0
1994 - Lost to Acadia 2 games to 0
1997 - Defeated Acadia 2 games to 0
1998 - Defeated Acadia 2 games to 1
2000 - Defeated Acadia 3 games to 1
2003 - Defeated St. FX 3 games to 1 
2006 - Lost to Acadia 3 games to 0
2007 - Lost to Moncton 2 games to 0
2008 - Defeated Saint Mary's 2 games to 0
2009 - Lost to Saint Mary's 2 games to 1
2011 - Defeated St. FX 3 games to 2
2012 - Defeated Moncton 3 games to 0
2013 - Defeated Saint Mary's 2 games to 1
2015 - Defeated Acadia 2 games to 0
2016 - Lost to St. FX 2 games to 0
2017 - Lost to St. FX 2 game to 0
2018 - Defeated St. FX 2 games to 0
2019 - Defeated St. FX 2 games to 0

- UNB will be looking for their 17th AUS Championship. In addition to the 12 mentioned above, they also captured the title in 1934, 1960, 1962, and 1964.

- Only St. FX (26) have won more conference titles in history.

- This is the longest streak of finals appearances in school history.

- The Reds have now reached 13 out of the last 15 AUS Finals. The only exceptions being 2010 and 2014.

- Since current head coach Gardiner MacDougall took the reigns before the 2000-2001 season, UNB have made the final 14 times in 20 years. They have won eight AUS titles under his watch.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

U Sports 3rd Round Schedules

With the Acadia Axemen defeating Saint Mary's 4-2 last night in Halifax to take their semi-final series 3 games to 1, the second round of playoffs are now complete in each conference. Here are the schedules for all the conference/division finals, which get underway tomorrow night in Ontario:

NOTE: All series are best 2-of-3

ATLANTIC UNIVERSITY SPORT
- Three berths at University Cup (Acadia + UNB + SMU/Moncton Winner)

FINAL
#1 UNB Reds (26-4-0) vs. #2 Acadia Axemen (19-9-2)

Game 1 - Monday, March 2nd at UNB
Game 2 - Wednesday, March 4th at Acadia
Game 3 - Friday, March 6th at UNB (if necessary)

CONSOLATION
#3 Saint Mary's Huskies (17-12-1) vs. #4 Moncton Aigles Bleus (13-11-6)

Game 1 - Monday, March 2nd at Saint Mary's
Game 2 - Wednesday, March 4th at Moncton
Game 3 - Friday, March 6th at Saint Mary's (if necessary)

ONTARIO UNIVERSITY ATHLETICS
- Three berths at University Cup (Ottawa/Concordia Winner + Guelph/Western Winner + Bronze Medal Winner)

OUA EAST
#3 Ottawa Gee-Gees (17-7-4) vs. #5 Concordia Stingers (13-10-5)

Game 1 - Thursday, February 27th at Ottawa
Game 2 - Saturday, February 29th at Concordia
Game 3 - Sunday, March 1st at Ottawa (if necessary)

OUA WEST
#3 Guelph Gryphons (17-6-5) vs. #8 Western Mustangs (11-13-4)

Game 1 - Thursday, February 27th at Guelph
Game 2 - Saturday, February 29th at Western
Game 3 - Sunday, March 1st at Guelph (if necessary)

CANADA WEST
- Two berths at University Cup (Saskatchewan + UBC)

#2 Saskatchewan Huskies (22-4-2) vs. #5 UBC Thunderbirds (9-14-5)

Game 1 - Friday, February 28th at Saskatchewan
Game 2 - Saturday, February 29th 1st at Saskatchewan
Game 3 - Sunday, March 1st at Saskatchewan (if necessary)

U Sports Top Ten (#19): Big Changes After Upset-Filled Week

The latest edition of the men's hockey rankings saw significant changes after a number of top teams were eliminated from their conference playoffs.

The only constant from last week was the University of New Brunswick (1935.49 ELO points) and University of Saskatchewan (1825.69) holding down the top two spots. The remaining eight positions are made up of the eight teams left in contention for a University Cup berth, which means many teams are ranked higher than they have been in quite some time. It also means that Alberta's streak of 169 straight weeks being ranked (since 2012) and Carleton's 24 week run come to an end.

The Guelph Gryphons (1724.69) are ranked third, their highest ranking since the 2014-2015 season, and Ottawa (1660.20) moves up from 10th to 4th. We then see five previously unranked teams in Concordia (1642.77, ranked 5th for the first time since 1999-2000), Acadia (1638.03), Western (1583.08, in the top ten for only the second time in four years), Moncton (1546.66, tied for their highest ranking since being 7th for one week in 2013-2014), and British Columbia (1533.23, ranked for only the 3rd time in four years). Saint Mary's (1528.32) round out the rankings by dropping one spot to 10th.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

U Sports Playoff Update: Birds Stun Bears

This past weekend saw the conclusion of another round of playoffs in both the OUA and Canada West - and it will go down as one of the wildest weekends in U Sports men's hockey history. We saw both top seeds in the OUA East - #1 Carleton (despite winning the longest overtime game in OUA history in game 1) and #2 UQTR - get eliminated as well as the OUA West's #2 seed Ryerson, who got knocked off by the #8 seeded Western in overtime in game 3.

Of course, those all pale in comparison to what happened in Edmonton where the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds pulled off the biggest playoff upset since 2010, shocking the country by eliminating the Alberta Golden Bears in three games. Not only did the victory give UBC a berth in the Canada West final and guarantee them a spot in the University Cup for the first time in 42 years, but it also ensured that Alberta will miss the tournament for the first time since 2012.

The series also produced on of the best/most clutch saves you will ever see. With the T-Birds holding on to a 2-1 lead with less three minutes remaining in the 3rd and deciding game, Rylan Toth made this save for the ages off of the Bears Tyler Soy...


ATLANTIC UNIVERSITY SPORT
- Three berths at University Cup (Acadia + Champion + Runner-Up or Acadia + Finalist + Bronze Medal Winner)

#1 UNB Reds (26-4-0) defeated #4 Moncton Aigles Bleus 3 games to 0 (7-2, 7-3, 4-1)

#2 Acadia Axemen (19-9-2) lead #3 Saint Mary's Huskies 2 games to 1 (4-1, 5-2, 2-6)

ONTARIO UNIVERSITY ATHLETICS
- Three berths at University Cup (OUA East Winner + OUA West Winner + Bronze Medal Winner)

OUA EAST

#5 Concordia Stingers (13-10-5) defeated #1 Carleton Ravens (24-3-1) 2 games to 0 (4-3 OT3, 3-1)

#3 Ottawa Gee-Gees (17-7-4) defeated #2 UQTR Patriotes (19-6-3) 2 games to 1 (1-2, 5-3, 4-2)

OUA WEST

#8 Western Mustangs (11-13-4) defeated #2 Ryerson Rams (20-5-3) 2 games to 1 (1-4, 5-2, 3-2 OT)

#3 Guelph Gryphons (17-6-5) defeated #5 Brock Badgers (14-12-2) 2 games to 0 (3-2, 2-1 OT)

CANADA WEST
- Two berths at University Cup (Champion + Runner-Up)

#5 UBC Thunderbirds (9-14-5) defeated #1 Alberta Golden Bears (23-5-0) 2 games to 1 (3-2 OT, 1-6, 2-1)

#2 Saskatchewan Huskies (22-4-2) defeated #3 Calgary Dinos (18-7-3) 2 games to 0 (2-1, 5-4 OT2)