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.