(FREDERICTON, NB) The two-time, defending U SPORTS men’s hockey champion UNB Varsity Reds will add a little spirit in the 2017-18 season.
In fact, they’ll add two former Spirits.
The Varsity Reds have received signed U SPORTS Letters of Intent from forwards Kris Bennett and Hayden Hodgson, both of whom recently completed their major junior careers with the Saginaw Spirit of the Ontario Hockey League.
“Hayden had a great OHL career,” said Varsity Reds head coach Gardiner MacDougall. “He brings size, physicality and an offensive touch to UNB.”
“Kris is a high character player that brings speed and a tenacious work ethic,” said UNB Hockey associate coach Rob Hennigar. “His leadership and off-ice habits have made him a player that we covet at UNB.”
Hodgson is a tall, gifted right winger who is coming off his best junior season. He scored 38 goals and added 28 assists in 67 games with the Spirit in 2016-17.
The Leamington, Ontario, native played five OHL seasons with Saginaw, the Sarnia Sting and the Erie Otters.
“He has a fantastic work ethic and was one of the fittest players at the Columbus Blue Jackets’ summer camp,” said Hennigar.
Hodgson has been invited to attend the Blue Jackets’ training camp, in September.
Bennett, a centre from Brampton, Ontario, played all his 195 OHL regular season games with the Spirit.
In 66 games last season, Bennett scored 25 goals and 26 assists.
“I chose UNB over my other options because of their past,” said Bennett. “They seem to be contending for a national championship every year and that really excites me.”
Bennett says he’ll bring energy, hard work and a good two-way game to the Varsity Reds, who will host the 2018 Cavendish Farms University Cup, March 15-18.
“The U Cup was a pretty big factor, but UNB always seems to be in the hunt for a national championship,” said Bennett. “It’s going to be a very exciting time.”
“Kris has a scoring touch and grew each season in the Ontario League,” said MacDougall. “We look forward to having him here at UNB for the next few years.”
Together, Bennett and Hodgson accounted for almost one-third of Saginaw’s offence last season.