‘Simply getting began’: Canada’s winningest college hockey coach appears at what’s subsequent

It has been fairly a 12 months for P.E.I.-born Gardiner MacDougall and the College of New Brunswick Reds males’s hockey group. 

UNB wrapped up the college hockey championship on Sunday night time in Toronto with a 4-0 win over the Université du Québec a Trois-Rivières Patriotes to clinch the 2024 College Cup — for the second consecutive 12 months. 

It was an ideal finish to an ideal season. UNB received all 30 common season video games, all 5 league playoff video games, after which swept via the nationwide match. In truth, the Reds did not surrender even a single purpose because it powered its means via the three ultimate video games to win the nationwide title.

UNB males’s hockey head coach Gardiner MacDougall poses with members of the family and gamers after being offered a jersey marking his milestone 489th win, probably the most in U Sports activities males’s hockey historical past. (James West/for UNB Athletics)

This season additionally included the 600th profession win for head coach MacDougall, making him probably the most profitable coach in Canadian males’s college hockey historical past. The group celebrated his 489th common season win with the presentation of a particular jersey.

“It is attention-grabbing once you’re within the within the warmth of it, within the course of, stated MacDougall, who was born in Bedeque, P.E.I. “You simply consider the subsequent apply or the subsequent recreation.” 

It is virtually a kind of fairy-tale seasons. Solely on this case, I assume Cinderella saved her footwear on.— Gardiner MacDougall, UNB Reds males’s hockey coach

“However I believe once you have a look at it, it is virtually a kind of fairy-tale seasons. Solely on this case, I assume Cinderella saved her footwear on.”

Excellent season

MacDougall stated he centered on retaining issues as regular as doable going into the ultimate recreation of the season.

“At UNB, we discuss attempting to be the most effective you may when it’s most vital, and I believe this group actually embodied that, bringing their finest efficiency when it counts probably the most,” MacDougall stated.

“I believe if you happen to have a look at the statistics, you’d must go an extended methods most likely to discover a season the place you go 43 and 0.”

A hockey coach wearing a suit and tie stands on a bench watching his team play
This season additionally included the 600th profession win for Gardiner MacDougall, making him probably the most profitable coach in Canadian college historical past. (James West Pictures )

MacDougall, also referred to as Coach Mac, stated the success of the group is all concerning the people who find themselves a part of it. 

“Our goal was to go back-to-back and it isn’t simple to do — to be constant, to go back-to-back,” MacDougall stated.

“I believe this group, they love getting collectively, they love competing, they love making each other higher, and I believe we have had nice management, and simply clearly a historic group.”

MacDougall stated he and the group have a few huge days arising, together with a go to to the New Brunswick legislature and a UNB rally in Fredericton.

P.E.I. roots

MacDougall stated he was blessed to be born and introduced up on P.E.I., the place he discovered his love of the sport. 

“We’re a smaller group and we had an area. I acquired to spend a number of time as a younger youth arising there,” he stated. 

“My dad was an avid hockey participant and simply an avid hockey fanatic — and he cherished to win. So I believe that was handed on, the aggressive edge.”

A hockey team with a 2023 championship banner
The UNB group received back-to-back nationwide titles, together with 2023’s championship win in Charlottetown, a proud second for the group’s Islander coach. (UPEI Pictures)

Now, MacDougall stated, the subsequent problem might be to three-peat. Subsequent 12 months’s U Sports activities ultimate for males’s hockey will probably be held in Ottawa.

“It is by no means been performed by our program and definitely that will be an goal,” stated MacDougall, noting there are plenty of Ontario-born gamers on the Reds.

“Plenty of work to do earlier than then. But it surely’s at all times good to have a goal and an goal going ahead for the season.”

WATCH | MacDougall displays on the 12 months that was — and the one forward:

College hockey coach with P.E.I. roots appears again at an ideal season

Head coach Gardiner MacDougall led the College of New Brunswick males’s hockey group via an ideal season that culminated within the Reds’ second consecutive win of the U Sports activities College Cup. MacDougall, who was born and raised close to Bedeque, P.E.I., displays on the previous season and what’s forward.

Some sports activities publications, together with The Hockey Information, are describing the UNB Reds as a dynasty.

MacDougall is not keen to go that far. “That’ll be as much as historians and the sports activities reporters to place that label on us, I assume,” he stated.

“However I take advantage of the phrases ‘JGS’ and which means ‘simply getting began’… We’re excited for the approaching 12 months, and we’ll see the place all the pieces lays when it is all completed.”

Successful tradition

Norman Beck is the color commentator for the UPEI males’s hockey group and a former UPEI participant.

“I assume you may most likely deliver any superlative or adjective that you just need to insert into the season that was for the Reds,” Beck stated Wednesday. “Historic, unimaginable, inconceivable, unprecedented. I have been following college hockey for 50 years and I’ve by no means seen a efficiency prefer it.”

A man with a beard wearing a UPEI hockey shirt stands with the rink in the background
Norman Beck is the color commentator for the UPEI males’s hockey group and performed for UPEI. (Shane Hennessey/CBC )

Beck stated he has watched UNB’s success develop during the last couple of many years. 

“There’s been a profitable tradition that is been established, a normal of excellence that is actually been unparalleled,,” Beck stated. 

“That profitable tradition permeates from 12 months to 12 months, and it makes it engaging for folks to go there, and who does not need to be a part of a winner, proper?”

I have been following college hockey for 50 years and I’ve by no means seen a efficiency prefer it​​​​​.— Norman Beck, UPEI males’s hockey color commentator 

Beck stated he appears ahead to seeing what MacDougall and his UNB group do subsequent. 

“What do you do now? Do you go for 2, go for 3 good seasons?” Beck stated.

“Dropping has been a comparatively overseas idea for them, so who is aware of?”

WATCH | Capping off an ideal common season: 

#TheMoment a N.B. hockey group made historical past with a 30-0 profitable streak

The College of New Brunswick males’s hockey group grew to become the primary U Sports activities hockey group to win 30 consecutive video games, going undefeated of their common season and incomes a spot within the historical past books.

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