(HALIFAX, N.S.) – Atlantic University Sport stakeholders, fans and members of the media gathered today and yesterday at the Scotiabank Centre in Halifax and the Grant Harvey Centre, respectively, to take part in the second annual AUS men’s hockey media days to kick off the 2015-16 season.
Head coaches Kyle McAllister (St. Thomas), Serge Bourgeois (Université de Moncton), Gardiner MacDougall (UNB) and Forbes MacPherson (UPEI) briefed media and fans in attendance in Fredericton on this year’s teams and their expectations for the season.
In front of a Halifax audience, head coaches Trevor Stienburg (Saint Mary’s), Brad Peddle (StFX), Darren Burns (Acadia) and Chris Donnelly (Dalhousie) did the same.
Six of the eight coaches were joined by a pivotal player from the roster. Coaches and players took part in question and answer periods with media and other stakeholders.
AUS executive director Phil Currie and AUS men’s hockey chair Pierre Arsenault (director of athletics for Mount Allison University) shared a number of new conference initiatives with those in attendance.
Currie announced the beginning of a five-year partnership between CCM Hockey and all 15 AUS men’s and women’s hockey teams.
“We’re very happy to announce that CCM Hockey has come on board this season as the official hockey equipment supplier of Atlantic University Sport,” said Currie. “In our 2012-2015 strategic plan, which we’ve now extended by two years, AUS sought to bring in strategic partnerships as a conference. We recognized that we were more than just the sum of our parts and that we could accomplish great things by coming together. It took all nine hockey athletic directors working together with our conference office to make this partnership a reality and we are very pleased to be entering into this new relationship with CCM.”
CCM’s Atlantic Canadian regional representative Ryan Keenan spoke at Tuesday’s event. “We’re thrilled to be partnering with AUS,” he said. “CCM is committed to helping players perform their best on the ice by bringing new technology to the sport of hockey, and we’re excited to be able to do so with AUS student-athletes.”
AUS men’s hockey chair Pierre Arsenault and Currie each spoke to the expanding role of AUS hockey commissioner Dave MacLean. In the 2014-15 season, MacLean reviewed all hit-to-the-head review requests. This season, his responsibilities will include overseeing all reviewable suspensions that do not carry automatic penalties, as well as all automatic and non-automatic video review requests. (Current AUS regulations require an automatic video review for all five-minute major penalties.)
“As always, student-athlete safety remains our top priority,” said Arsenault. “Bringing a third-party commissioner on board to dedicate time to reviewing dangerous plays and hits to the head was a step in the right direction last season. We’re happy to be expanding Commissioner MacLean’s role even further in the name of student-athlete safety this season.”
Also on hand at the Halifax press event was Saint Mary’s director of athletics Kevin Downie. Saint Mary’s, together with Sports & Entertainment Atlantic (S|E|A), will be hosting the 2016 University Cup which will be held at Scotiabank Centre for the second consecutive year.
The national championship will take place March 17-20, 2016 at the Scotiabank Centre in Halifax and will feature a showdown between the country’s top eight teams in a fight for the iconic trophy. The Atlantic conference will receive three berths in the championship: Saint Mary’s with the host berth, the AUS champion, and one assigned berth.
“Saint Mary’s University, along with our partners at StFX and S|E|A, is excited to host the 2016 University Cup,” said Downie. “Saint Mary’s hockey has a long and storied tradition and our Huskies look forward to a season-long grind in arguably the toughest conference in the CIS.”
“As hosts, the reward will be a berth at the University Cup in our hometown in front of our alumni, students and local hockey fans. But, rest assured that our Huskies will not be taking anything for granted. For us, the road to the University Cup starts this Saturday night at the venerable Halifax Forum against crosstown rivals the Dalhousie Tigers.”
Tickets for the 2016 CIS University Cup are on sale now both online and by phone through Ticket Atlantic. Fans can visit the event website for updates at www.ucuphfx.ca.
The AUS men’s hockey regular season kicks off tomorrow night with the Université de Moncton Aigles Bleus hosting the St. Thomas Tommies at J. Louis-Levesque Arena in Moncton at 7 p.m.
The other six AUS teams will see their first action Saturday night at 7 p.m. The defending champion UNB Varsity Reds will host the UPEI Panthers in Fredericton, the Acadia Axemen will host the StFX X-Men in Wolfville, N.S. and the Dalhousie Tigers will visit the Saint Mary’s Huskies in Halifax.