Canadian University Hockey Champoinships-An Example of Excellence

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.

Winning a Big Game

I had a special coaching experience last week.

Over two weeks ago I took over as head coach of a junior team. There were 8 games left in the regular season and the team was in last place in their division. That was the bad news. The good news was the GM had put together a talented team-something he has done consistently over his career in junior hockey.

It came down to winning the final game of the season, on the road, and against the team we needed to beat out for the final playoff stop.

The deal was simple. Win and make the playoffs—lose and the season was over.

What needed to happen? Our best players had to be our best players, we had to at least match the effort of the other team, every player had to do their part, and we had to have fun.

What actually happened? All of the above; top line scored three goals, we worked hard all game, and every player tried to fulfill their individual roles. Winning the game was a lot of fun.

And did I mention that their goaltender was great—and our guy was a little bit better!

Got to go. First playoff game tonight.