Maritime Hockey Not Far Off
We were treated to a beautiful Canada Day long weekend featuring an unheard of three consecutive days of sun. It’s the unofficial beginning of summer: kids out school, BBQs, fireworks and beaches.
Yes, you read that right. Coming off the nicest weekend this region has seen so far this year the Quebec Major Junior League unveiled its preseason schedule while the Atlantic University Sport conference released the 2011/12 regular hockey schedule.
In the Q, we’ll see each team get six exhibition games. Memorial Cup Champs Saint John will travel to Moncton August 19th to face the Wildcats on the opening night of preseason action. That same night the PEI Rocket will open up the preseason on the road against Acadie-Bathurst Titan. A day later, Halifax and Cape Breton will square off at the Halifax Forum.
Another intrquing storyline will be to see if Nathan MacKinnon makes his Quebec league debut. Currently property of the Baie-Comeau Drakkar who open up the preseason at home on the 19th against Chicoutimi, MacKinnon has showed no interest in reporting to Baie-Comeau. The Drakkar will be forced to trade his rights to a team he’ll report to once the trading period re-opens at the beginning of August. For more on that storyline, click here.
AUS-ome Hockey Returns
As much as I love the Q, it’s still only preseason hockey. The real anticipation lies in looking ahead to what could be the best AUS hockey season in a long time.
Right out of the gates, the AUS season promises exciting action as all eight schools kick-off on Friday, October 14th.
We’ll see the defending National Champion UNB Varsity Reds play host to the team they met in the AUS finals last year, the ST.FX X-Men.
Meanwhile the 2010 National Champion Saint Mary’s Huskies will play host to the UPEI Panthers. The Huksies just barely missed entry into the National Championship tournament, falling to the X-Men in overtime of the seventh game of the AUS semi-final. The Panthers on the otherhand faltered later after an exceptional first half of the season that had them ranked as high as fifth in the nation.
Acadia, who finished #10 in the final National rankings, will travel to Moncton to face les Aigles Bleu, a squad that is looking to improve on last year’s ten win season which saw them finish three points out of a playoff spot.
That final playoff spot went to the Dalhousie Tigers. The Tigers took another step forward last year and showed flashes of the ability to compete with the best in the league. This year, they will strive to make those efforts more consistent, and maybe make a little noise in the playoffs.
The Tigers will have some exciting new additions when they open the season at home against the St. Thomas Tommies. The Tommies are hoping the addition of the reknowned coach Troy Ryan can lead them to a better season than the dismal 3-21-4 mark they posted last year.
The top tier of the AUS will remain strong with UNB, SMU, and St.FX at the top and Acadia and UPEI knocking on the door. Dalhousie looms right behind them, but can’t get Moncton out of their rearview mirror. The pack is gaining on the leaders, which only makes for better hockey for us too watch.
Check out the full AUS schedule and let me know what match-ups you’re looking forward to.