Recently I spent the weekend in Fredericton, New Brunswick attending the national championship for Canadian university hockey (CIS). Most players at this level have major junior and Canadian tier II hockey in their backgrounds prior to enrolling in university to continue their education and hockey careers. They are full time students as they train and compete.
Participating were eventual CIS finalists McGill University Redmen and the University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds, St Francis Xavier University X-Men, University of Alberta, University of Western Ontario Mustangs, Alberta Golden Bears, and the University of Calgary Dinos. All were great teams and all performed to a level that would make their followers proud.
There was a daily buzz in the Aitken Centre as each participant played hard every shift. Every game was a display of high tempo, passionate hockey. Calgary and Alberta had solid defensive teams, X knew how to bring a physical game, and Western had speed. Finalist McGill had a level of skill and speed second only to UNB.
Then there was UNB. The last two period of Saturday’s semi -final and Sunday’s final was the best university level hockey I have ever seen. Coach Gardiner MacDougall has done a world class job of bringing the UNB program to the top of university hockey—anywhere.
Congratulations to UNB, the City of Fredericton, and all participants for providing us with a special hockey experience. A special thank you to Coach MacDougall, his staff and his players for showing the hockey world a wonderful example of excellence.