Tyler Boland, Samuel Dove-McFalls, Austen Keating, defenceman Joe Gatenby, goaltender Rylan Parenteau, and coach Gardiner MacDougall of the UNB Reds men’s hockey team have been selected to attend the 2021 FISU winter games, and play for Canada’s men’s team.
Unlike other years, the FISU games do not overlap with regular season games, but they do overlap with exam period. As well, this is a large academic and financial commitment – two things that could have prevented possible candidates from attending. Luckily, UNB is supporting its students.
The FISU games are staged every two years in a different city. The winter edition is a celebration of international university sports and culture. Several thousand university athletes competing makes for the world’s largest winter multi-sport competition.
The FISU organization aims to incorporate an educational aspect to their events allowing for students to celebrate their performance while continuing to study. FISU is an eleven-day event, with nine compulsory sports at every winter edition.
“We must give tremendous recognition for these players to get selected out of 36 teams across the country. Going in, it’s spectacular. There’s a tremendous opportunity. You turn from a university-level player into an ambassador. For your hometown, here for the University of New Brunswick, for the city of Fredericton, and of course, for all of Canada,” explains MacDougall.
He predicts tough competition, but overall the diversity in teams leads to a wide variety of skill sets.
“We are putting the maple leaf on and it will be a terrific experience. Usually a once-in-a-lifetime experience. One of the most amazing things is to watch the players put on the [maple] leaf, to see how excited they are, how they work, and how they put everything into their game. It is an absolutely amazing experience,” MacDougall says.
The Russians are very strong, and will come to this FISU tournament with a strong team once again. Last year the Russian team had selected 14 members who had played in the KHL in the prior season. Kazakhstan as well will be a strong opponent to Canada due to their Russian base.
In addition to those who are well-developed, there still are some countries who are developing their programs and teams.
The USA will be more skilled than before. The USA was an all-star team at the D2 level and are now at the D3 level. Finland has been a strong opponent as well.
“With all these very strong teams, you have to be the team of over-believing overachievers at every point,” MacDougall says.
MacDougall expects the players to improve with each game as they play through the FISU tournament, stating, “we expect terrific efforts out of them but the whole goal right now is to be the most improved team over this tournament.”
The UNB Reds expressed their appreciation for the continued support from Dr. Paul Mazzerolle, UNB administration, Athletic Director John Richard, and Dean of Sociology Wayne Albert, for their tremendous support of the team and their efforts.
“They’ve been terrific supporters of our student athletes,” says MacDougall. “We look forward to the results coming back for Canada as UNB makes their way through the FISU schedule.”