Wednesday, March 31, 2021

News And Notes: Cooper, Alumni Update

 A number of ex-Reds have been in the news lately. Here is the latest on some old friends:

- Oliver Cooper became the latest Reds player to join the ECHL's Fort Wayne Comets as the 5th year forward inked his first professional contract last week. The Komets are quickly becoming UNB's unofficial minor league affiliate as they currently feature ex-Reds Randy Gazzola, Marcus McIvor, and Matt Boudens.

- Another Red-turned-Komet - defenceman Matt Murphy - was recalled by the AHL's Chicago Wolves. He has recorded an assist in two games thus far for the Carolina Hurricanes top affiliate.

- Olivier LeBlanc made his AHL debut with the Belleville Senators last Wednesday. 

- Kris Bennett has picked up a pair of assists in his first five games for the AHL's Stockton Heat.

- Mark Simpson has played 14 games with the Heat, contributing three goals and two assists.

- Philippe Maillet was sent back down to the Hershey Bears after spending most of the season on the Washington Capitals "taxi" squad. He has a goal and seven assists in his first three games back in the AHL, earning Player of the Week for his efforts. 

- Matthew Boucher continues to tear it up for the ECHL's Utah Grizzlies. He has averaged a point per game over 35 games this season with 15 goals and 20 assists. He was named the league's Player of the Week for March 22-28.

- Meanwhile, Alex Dubeau was named the ECHL Goaltender of the Week for March 15-21. He is 9-1-3 with a 2.55 GAA and 0.914 save percentage playing for the South Carolina Stingrays this season.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Casey Commits

UPDATE: Jason Malloy of The Guardian has a nice story about Casey's commitment to UNB.

The defending University Cup champion UNB Reds have added another piece to their 2021-2022 line-up as Charlottetown Islanders forward Thomas Casey has committed to the program.

The 5'9", 187 pound Casey is currently in his fourth season with the QMJHL's Islanders, where his assistant coach is former Red - and NHLer - Kevin Henderson. After putting up decent stats in his first three seasons (46 goals and 47 assists in 171 games), the Prince Edward Island native has exploded this season to the tune of 26 goals and 34 assists in 61 games thus far, playing a key role on one of the league's top teams. 

Gardiner MacDougall says Casey is "a huge addition to our UNB men's hockey program" who has "a high-level, competitive work ethic, elite speed and top-notch character."  

Casey previously attended the Detroit Red Wings development camp in 2019. 

The Reds have now added Casey, defenceman Adam McCormick, forwards James Phelan and Brandon Saigeon, and goaltender Griffen Outhouse in recent months as they look to rebuild a roster that has been gutted by losses due to professional opportunities and graduation.

Thursday, March 18, 2021

McCormick To Join Reds

What could be a very busy "offseason" for the three-time defending AUS champions got off to a promising start with the announcement that local defenceman Adam McCormick has signed a letter of intent with the Reds for the 2021-2022 season.

A native of Woodstock, New Brunswick McCormick is currently in his 5th season in the QMJHL. After four seasons with the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles that saw the 5'11", 190 pound rearguard put up 22 goals, 99 assists, and a +52 rating in 231 games - capped off by winning the 2019-2020 Kevin Lowe Trophy as the QMJHL's Best Defensive Defenceman and being named a Second Team all-star - McCormick was dealt to the Acadie-Bathurst Titan, where he has 4 goals and 11 assists in 16 games thus far this season. He has served as an alternate captain each of the last two years. 

According to Gardiner MacDougall, McCormick is "an excellent puck-moving defender with great mobility and an elite hockey sense". With the departure of four members from last season's defence corps, the head coach says the defender "has the opportunity to step into our line-up and be an impact player for us at both ends of the rink."

McCormick will also be the answer to a future trivia question as he becomes the first player born this millennium to be recruited by the Reds. 

Monday, March 15, 2021

Trio Of Reds Turn Pro

The cancellation of the the 2020-2021 U Sports men's hockey season continues to decimate the roster of the three time defending AUS Champions as fourth year defencemen Tristan Pomerleau and Olivier LeBlanc, as well as fourth year forward - and team captain - Kris Bennett have become the latest Reds to join the professional ranks. 

It was announced last week that Pomerleau has signed an ATO (amateur try-out) with the Laval Rocket, the AHL affiliate of the Montreal Canadiens. That was followed on Saturday with the news that Bennett has signed an ATO with the AHL's Stockton Heat (Calgary), where he will join former teammate Mark Simpson and Alberta Golden Bear Luke Philp. The trifecta was completed today as LeBlanc signed an ATO with the Belleville Senators (Ottawa), joining a franchise that has featured ex-Reds Alex Dubeau, Chris Clapperton, Jordan Murray, and Matt Petgrave in recent years. 

For those scoring at home, out of the 20 players who played in game three of the AUS Final, 11 have now moved on. Forwards Patrick Watling, Stephen Anderson, Mark Simpson, Ben Hawerchuk, Matthew Boucher, goaltender Samuel Harvey, and defencemen Matt Murphy and Marcus McIvor have all signed professional contracts in the last 12 months. 

Saturday, March 6, 2021

One Year Ago

No one could have ever imagined it at the time, but exactly one year has passed since the Reds last played a game. 

It was March 6th, 2020 when UNB defeated Acadia 5-1 in the third and deciding game of the AUS final to claim their third straight conference title. 

We can't wait to get back to spending those winter nights at the AUC, watching the Reds chalk up another W.

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Bennett Wins Mark Jeffrey Award

Fourth year forward - and team captain - Kris Bennett has been named this year's recipient of the annual Mark Jeffrey Memorial Merit Award, the team announced last week. 

This is the most prestigious award handed out by the program and Bennett, who is one of the team's hardest workers and most popular players, has proven to be more than deserving of the honour.  

Congratulations Kris!


Thursday, February 25, 2021

AUC Gets A Makeover

If you happened to take a drive behind the Aitken Centre today, you may have noticed crews hard at work sprucing up the exterior. I think it's safe to say it is a slight upgrade over the previous sign, which you needed a telescope to read.

Babcock To Lead Huskies

U Sports men's hockey was in the national sports spotlight this week as the Saskatchewan Huskies announced Stanley Cup champion and two-time Olympic gold medal-winning coach Mike Babcock as their new head coach. The former Maple Leafs bench boss will replace long-time Huskies coach Dave Adolph, who will be retiring in May as the winningest coach in Canadian university men's hockey history.

Babcock returns to his roots as he grew up in Saskatoon and played the 1981-1982 season for the Huskies. He would later coach the now-defunct Lethbridge Pronghorns for one season in 1993-1994, leading the school to their only national championship. 

This seems like an ideal situation for Babcock. With Toronto still paying him 5.85 million per year through the 2022-2023 season, this allows him to get back to coaching on a volunteer basis for two seasons in his hometown, near his family, for a program and a league that he has strong ties to. It will also give him the chance to repair his reputation after a number of scathing allegations about his coaching style and character emerged since his dismissal in Toronto. 

For U Sports, having a coach of Babcock's stature in the league should create some buzz and and bring national attention to a league that desperately needs any publicity it can get.


Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Maillet Makes NHL Debut

This past Sunday marked a special day for the UNB men's hockey program as former star forward Philippe Maillet made his NHL debut for the Washington Capitals.

The 28 year old Maillet had 11 shifts and saw 8:02 of ice-time. He was credited with one shot on goal, two face-off wins in four attempts, and wasn't on the ice for a goal for or against in the Capitals 7-4 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers. 

Maillet is the 162nd NHL player produced by U Sports and the first UNB alum to appear in an NHL game since Kevin Henderson suited up for Nashville in 2013.

During his illustrious four year career at UNB, Maillet, racked up 201 points in 132 games to rank 4th in program history, won two National Championships (2016, 2017), was an AUS rookie of the year and member of the U Sports All-Rookie team (2014), was a two-time AUS MVP (2015, 2017), two-time AUS scoring champion (2015, 2017), two-time U Sports first team All-Canadian (2015, 2017), 2017 Major W.J. "Danny" McLeod Award winner as University Cup MVP, 2017 Senator Joseph A. Sullivan Trophy winner as the U Sports men's hockey Player of the Year, and 2017 BLG Award winner as the U Sports Athlete of the Year.

Congratulations to Philippe for this amazing accomplishment!

Thursday, February 4, 2021

Saigeon Chooses Reds

The University of New Brunswick Reds have added forward Brandon Saigeon to their 2021-2022 recruiting class, the team announced yesterday. 

A former 5th round draft pick of the Colorado Avalanche, the 22 year old native of Grimsby, Ontario played five seasons in the Ontario Hockey League split between the the Belleville Bulls, Hamilton Bulldogs, and Oshawa Generals. He put up 251 points (105 goals, 146 assists) in 304 career games with his best season statistically coming in his final season in 2018-2019 when he posted 37 goals and 55 assists in 68 games. Additionally, he was the Bulldogs leading scorer with 18 goals and 7 assists in 21 playoff games as the Bulldogs - which also included recent Reds recruits Kade Landry and Isaac Nurse - captured the 2018 OHL Championship.

Upon the completion of his junior career, Saigeon played a season in the ECHL with the Utah Grizzlies. He scored 18 points (8 goals, 10 assists) in 51 games in his lone season of professional hockey. 

He will join UNB after completing a 14 day isolation.

Saigeon becomes the third confirmed recruit for the Reds for the 2020-2021 season, joining the previously announced Griffen Outhouse and James Phelan. 

With how difficult it may be to project how major junior players will adapt to the AUS given the lack of a CHL season thus far (outside of a smattering of QMJHL games), perhaps it is not a coincidence that Gardiner MacDougall and company have recruited three players out of the professional ranks. It will be interesting to see if this strategy continues over the summer.   

Thursday, January 7, 2021

Harvey, Boucher Turn Pro

The University of New Brunswick Reds have lost two key pieces to the professional ranks this week as goaltender Samuel Harvey and forward Matthew Boucher have inked AHL and ECHL contracts, respectively. 

According to the Daily Gleaner's (subscription required) Bill Hunt, Harvey has signed a tryout contract with the San Jose Barracuda, the AHL affiliate of the Sharks, where he is expected to compete for their backup role. 

The former Memorial Cup-winning netminder will leave UNB after a short, but spectacular, stay. After completing some of his university courses while in junior, the plan all along for Harvey was to stay with the Reds for two seasons to complete his degree before moving on to the professional ranks. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic meant Harvey only got to play one - unfinished - season in the red and black, posting a 14-2 regular season record with a 1.87 GAA and a 4-1 postseason record with a 1.21 record, leading the Reds to another AUS championship. Their game three victory over Acadia in the AUS Final proved to be the last game of the season as the season was cancelled the night before their opening game at the University Cup. 

Meanwhile, it was announced today that Boucher has signed with the ECHL's Utah Grizzlies. The consistent forward spent two seasons at UNB, putting up over a point per game each year. He accumulated a total of 61 points (31 goals, 30 assists) in 57 regular season games before adding another nine points in as many playoff games. He had three assists in three games at the 2019 University Cup, helping UNB to a national championship.

The loss of Harvey and Boucher isn't necessarily surprising given that pro leagues are starting up again soon and there is an increasing unlikelihood we will see any AUS competition in the near future. However, their departures are a big blow to a UNB roster that had already lost a number of key contributors from last season's squad. 

We may not know when we will the see the Reds back in action, but one thing is for certain - the team that takes the ice will be vastly different looking from the one we last saw raising the AUS trophy in March.