Women’s hockey continues to impress
It was difficult to know what to expect from the Reds women’s hockey team coming into the season. It was the first season of UNB varsity women’s hockey in a decade, the roster consisted entirely of newcomers - most of whom were rookies - and the head coach was new to UNB and the East coast. Well, any expectations fans had have surely been met or exceeded in the first half of the season. The team currently sits firmly in a playoff position, ranking fourth in their eight-team conference at the time of writing with a 6-3-3 win-loss-draw record. More impressively, two of their wins were considered major upsets against top competition as they defeated St.FX and Saint Mary’s, the second and third ranked teams in the conference. They have also been very competitive against the top-ranked St. Thomas Tommies, narrowly losing both of their early-season matchups by a score of 2-1.
As the team heads into the second half of their season, the play of goaltender Kendra Woodland in particular stands out as a reason for continued optimism. The first-year netminder is currently ranked second in the conference in save percentage and third in goals against average. Her confident demeanor and dominant play gives her team a chance to win every game and makes the Reds a potential dark horse come playoff time.
Men’s soccer falls short in national quarterfinals
It was another quality season for UNB men’s soccer, but one that ultimately left them without any hardware to show for it. The team enjoyed a strong regular season, finishing with a 7-2-3 record while leading the AUS conference in team goals (37) and conceding the second fewest goals against (7). This combination of a high-scoring offence and stubborn defensive play made the Reds a serious contender to win their first AUS title since 2015. However, the third-ranked Reds would end up falling to the top-ranked Cape Breton Capers in the AUS championship game by a score of 2-0.
Despite the loss, the team’s appearance in the AUS championship earned them the right to play in the U Sports national championships in Vancouver. However, they suffered a 3-0 defeat to the Montreal Carabins in their quarterfinal game before losing to York University in the consolation game. Montreal would go on to defeat Cape Breton University in the championship game by a score of 2-1 in overtime.
Fourth-year striker Dan Walker led the Reds’ league-best offence, finishing the regular season ranked fifth in the AUS in goals scored (6) and first in the conference in assists (6). However, it was the team’s depth of scoring that truly set it apart from the rest of their division; UNB had five different players score at least five goals each during the 12-game regular season.
Women’s volleyball enjoying bounce-back season
2017-2018 was a season to forget for the women’s volleyball program as they struggled through a winless season that ended with the resignation of former AUS Coach of the Year, Jilliane Portelli. 2018-19 offered the team a shot at redemption under the guidance of a new head coach, former University of Alberta Golden Pandas assistant Christine Biggs.
The team received a major boost with the return of 2015 Rookie of the Year Victoria Eadle, after she spent over a year away from the program. The Gallagher Ridge, NB local has helped lead the way for her team and currently ranks near the top of the Atlantic University Sport conference in several key statistical categories.
With a 4-5-1 record on the season, the Reds have still not climbed to the top of their conference’s leaderboard. However, considering where they were a year ago, the program has made tremendous progress; the volleyball team now appears likely to reach the playoffs for the first time since 2014-15.
Men’s basketball finding success in post-Masters era.
It’s never easy to move on from the departure of a star player, and it’s all the more difficult when that player is widely recognized as one of the greatest of all time in Canadian collegiate basketball. That is the challenge facing Reds men’s basketball after Javon Masters completed his final year of eligibility last season, having led the team to its first AUS championship since 1967. It is a challenge the team has so far handled very well as they currently sit in second place in the conference with a 5-2 record, leaving them two points behind the top-ranked Saint Mary’s Huskies heading into the break. The team’s impressive offence has been led by Ibrahima Doumbouya and Jesse Kendall who are tied for fifth in the conference in points-per-game.