(MONCTON, N.B.) – Atlantic University Sport stakeholders, fans and members of the media gathered at the Crowne Plaza Moncton to take part in the first of two AUS men’s hockey media days to kick off the 2014-15 season.
Head coaches Pat Powers (St. Thomas), Serge Bourgeois (Université de Moncton), Gardiner MacDougall (UNB) and Forbes MacPherson (UPEI) briefed media and fans in attendance in Moncton on this year's teams and their expectations for the season.
The four coaches were joined by a pivotal player from each of their roster. Coaches and players took part in question and answer periods with media and other stakeholders.
The second press event will take place tomorrow in Halifax with coaches from the remaining four AUS men’s hockey teams.
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. Under the market-driven sport model AUS is now operating under, Currie unveiled the second of three new sport-specific television commercials, this one to promote AUS men’s hockey and the road to the University Cup.
“We continue to be excited by the potential of our market-driven sports,” said Currie. “We’ve been told in the past that the quality and entertainment value of AUS men’s hockey is one of the East Coast’s best kept secrets. We don’t want it to be a secret anymore. We think it has enormous potential to grow in the region and our great partner Subway has helped us to produce this ad that we hope will get this message out there.”
Currie also announced the launch of a new conference-wide concussion awareness program for student-athletes. An informational video produced by the conference is being distributed to all AUS teams. The video is hosted by Dr. Sonya McVeigh, a member of the AUS head injury committee, and aims to help student-athletes make better personal decisions when they believe they may be concussed. It also includes interviews with AUS student-athletes who have experienced the negative effects of concussions first-hand. Accompanying informational posters will be displayed on each campus which highlight the dangers of remaining in the game following a head injury.
In line with the conference’s continued efforts to prevent head injuries, men’s hockey chair Arsenault presented the new accumulative penalty tracking system. In past seasons, three minor penalties for checking from behind or three minor for checks to the head would result in a one-game player suspension. These minor penalties will now be tracked cumulatively, with any combination of three resulting in an automatic one-game suspension and all further infractions resulting in additional sanctions. Major penalties for hits to the head and checking from behind will continue to be automatically submitted for video review.
“We collected data from our coaches last season and the numbers we came out with showed an alarming trend,” said Arsenault. “We found that just 15 players were responsible for 47 per cent of dangerous play infractions. That’s nine percent of players committing nearly half of these penalties. Our top priority is student-athlete safety and by implementing this accumulative penalty tracking system and continuing to do video reviews of these majors, we’re hoping to eliminate a great deal of these preventable injuries.”
Also on hand at the press event was Derek Martin, president of Sports & Entertainment Atlantic (S|E|A). Together with StFX athletics, S|E|A is hosting the 2015 CIS University Cup.
The national championship will take place March 12-15, 2015 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: the AUS champion, the hosts and one assigned berth.
“The 2015 University Cup will showcase the best amateur hockey in Canada over an action-packed four days of intense competition,” said Martin. “We will sell you the whole seat, but you will only need the edge.”
Tickets 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 2016 CIS University Cup will be hosted by S|E|A and Saint Mary’s athletics.
The AUS men’s hockey regular season kicks off tomorrow night with the St. Thomas Tommies hosting the Université de Moncton Aigles Bleus at the Grant-Harvey Centre in Fredericton at 7 p.m.
Saturday night at 7 p.m., Dalhousie will host Acadia while UPEI plays hosts UNB. StFX will then host Saint Mary’s Tuesday, Oct. 11, also at 7 p.m.
The complete 2014 Atlantic University Sport men’s hockey schedule with links to live stats and webcast information is available on the AUS website.
With files from AUS Sports Information