It was a night full of highlights Friday at the Aitken University Centre in Fredericton in the University of New Brunswick men's hockey home opener.
Before 2,816 fans, the Varsity Reds raised their Canadian Interuniversity Sport national championship, and their Atlantic University Sport conference championship to the rafters.
The defending champs then followed it up with a 5-2 win over the St. Francis Xavier University X-Men with third-year forward Taylor MacDougall leading with way with a pair of goals.
Coming into this season, MacDougall didn't set out to be in a leadership role, but said he would contribute in any way he can. Friday night he led by example.
"We're fortunate that we have a lot of depth and a lot of guys who can contribute on different nights," MacDougall said. "That's been the strength of the program throughout the years so when you get an opportunity to do that, you just try and take advantage of it."
MacDougall gave UNB the lead with 23 seconds left in the first period – after Marc-Antoine Desnoyers teed up a slap shot from the point on the power play, and Blake Gal tied it up by finishing an X-Men rush a minute later – tipping in a centering pass from Antoine Houde-Caron in the corner.
Bronson Maschmeyer brought the X-Men back within one on the power play midway through the second, but MacDougall and Tom Nesbitt put the finishing touches on the X-Men with late goals in the third to seal the win.
The win marks UNB's 25th consecutive win on a home opener, and although the players didn't know of the streak going into the game, the excitement of the pre-game ceremonies was enough.
"Obviously it's pretty special anytime you get to accomplish something like that," MacDougall said. "But at the same time it's good to turn the page and focus on a new year and a new goal that we were able to accomplish last year."
MacDougall formerly played with the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and scored three goals and four assists last year with the Varsity Reds. He is currently in the third year of his undergraduate studies.