For the second consecutive year the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton plays host to the National Men’s Hockey Championship – the 2018 U SPORTS Cavendish Farms University Cup from Mar. 15-18, 2018.
For the sixth time in its history, the University Cup will be hosted at the Aitken University Centre (AUC) on the UNB campus. Constructed in 1976, the AUC is the largest-seated facility in Fredericton and reached capacity crowds of 3,500 during previous championships.
The host UNB Varsity Reds have also a successful history in the event, with seven national championships, defeating seven different teams. They are also five-time silver medalists, having lost three championship games to the Alberta Golden Bears, who have won the most championships in U Cup history with 15, while UNB is third with their seven banners. In the past 13 U Cups alone, the Varsity Reds and Golden bears have combined to win 11 titles.
The Varsity Reds have become a top development program in the country. The team has had four recent players sign NHL contracts, including three directly out of UNB, the only U SPORTS school to do so in over 20 years. Additionally, five players on last year’s championship team were invited to NHL Development Camps in the summer of 2017. Head coach Gardiner MacDougall, who is in his 18th season at the team’s helm, has won six of the programs’ seven U Cups, and three silver medals. The six U Cups he won for the school were within an 11-year span. Other coaches to hoist the University Cup include former and current NHL bench bosses Tom Watt and Mike Keenan (Toronto), Dave King (Saskatchewan), Mike Babcock (Lethbridge), along with Hockey Hall of Fame inductee Clare Drake (Alberta).
The University Cup trophy was presented by Queen’s University and the Royal Military College of Canada (RMC), and was first awarded in 1963 to McMaster, co-hosted by Queen’s and RMC in Kingston, Ont. Queen’s and RMC played the first organized interuniversity hockey game in 1885, and share the oldest rivalry in the sport to this day.