On March 13 UNB Hockey announced via Instagram that Kris Bennett, forward with UNB Reds men's team, has moved up to the American Hockey League (AHL) to play with the Stockton Heat.
Bennett spent three active seasons with the Reds, as well as the 20/21 season which consisted of only practices. During the 19/20 season, Bennett acted as Assistant Captain, and was appointed Captain for the practice year of 20/21. In addition to hockey, Bennett is a Kinesiology and Business Management student at UNB.
Gardiner MacDougall, Head Coach of the UNB Reds Men’s Hockey program, has spent 21 years at UNB, and commends the team on their efforts to continue working hard in a season without games.
“I give players a lot of credit, you know, to go through such a long practice season,” explained MacDougall. “We thought that maybe we would have games, but it’s a year to at least be on the ice and develop their skills.”
MacDougall explained that, despite the many adverse effects of the pandemic, this year has given the team an opportunity to come together.
“The team has gotten very close,” MacDougall said. “The group has bonded really well together. There’s been some restrictions, obviously, with different dressing rooms and things like that, but, overall, the group has matched it quite well.”
MacDougall sees Bennett’s move to the AHL as a measure of success for the program, explaining that this is the ideal course of action for a university athlete.
“Our goal is to try to get into the American Hockey League,” said MacDougall, stating that Kris was a prime player since the start. “He’s been tremendous, really; from his first year, [Kris] was Rookie of the Year in Canada.”
MacDougall was disappointed that Bennett was not able to play in his last year with the Reds, as his 19/20 season saw his finest playing yet.
“[Last year] he was playing his best hockey,” said MacDougall. “I think it would have been a terrific year, but it’s good to see him get an opportunity at that pro level.”