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Former UNB coach goes pro

New Toronto Maple Leafs assistant coach Andrew Brewer comes from humble beginnings, which include studying at the University of New Brunswick and helping coach Varsity Reds men’s hockey.

“Growing up in New Brunswick and at UNB are big parts of my background,” the former V-Reds video coach said. A Fredericton native, Brewer spent three years as a UNB assistant bench boss between 2008 and 2011.

He was noticed by the V-Reds after making a video about the team’s 2008 CIS University Cup final loss. UNB head coach Gardiner MacDougall said that video was played at the team’s banquet at Kingswood.

“We needed a video coach the following season anyway,” he said.

The V-Reds had purchased a new video processing software around and Brewer came on board to film games and produce highlight videos.

In the three years Brewer spent with UNB he was part of the 2009 and 2011 University Cup-winning teams and the 2010 squad that won a silver medal.

“Andrew started by shooting videos of games, then doing highlight videos and other things with us, like helping with special teams,” said MacDougall. “He came on the ice for some practices at the end.”

MacDougall said Brewer still returns to UNB to help run the V-Reds’ annual summer hockey programs.

In his final year with the V-Reds, Brewer was a steering committee member when UNB hosted—and won— the 2011 CIS national tournament. “That day at the Aitken Centre is one I’ll never forget,” he said.

After the V-Reds, Brewer was hired as a national teams’ manager and video coach by Hockey Canada.

“Growing up, I was always a huge Canadian hockey fan,” he said. “It was exciting for me to represent Canada on the world stage.”

Brewer said one of his first events with Hockey Canada was the 2011 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championships, which were held in New York.

“Growing up, that came on every year on Dec. 26,” he said. “Working there was a dream come true.”

Brewer said that working alongside a coach of MacDougall’s calibre taught him to think on his feet and try new things.

He described MacDougall as one of Canada’s most successful university hockey coaches in the last decade.

“He’s done an unreal job not only winning once, which is hard to do, but multiple times, which is really hard to do,” he said. “Gardiner has also represented the city, province and university at a high level.”

After Brewer represented Hockey Canada at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, he joined the NHL’s Detroit Red Wings as an assistant coach to Mike Babcock, who joined the Maple Leafs as bench boss and brought Brewer along with him earlier this year.

“I get to be part of something special,” said Brewer. “Mike has had success everywhere he’s gone.”

Brewer graduated from UNB in 2008 with a Bachelor of Business Administration, which he said has helped him realize what he brings to the table.

“Having a basic understanding of economics has helped my understanding of hockey and advanced statistics,” he said. “The ability to present an idea or thought was important anywhere I’ve worked.”

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