UPDATE: Streak is over! StFX came from behind to defeat UNB 4-3, despite being outshot 39-21. X-Men goaltender Bryan Gillis was the player of the game, and his teammates played a very good counterattack game, scoring opportunistically on their chances and doing a great job on the penalty kill.
So the UNB hockey team kept on running up wins this season and everyone around the program kept trying to act like it was no big deal -- the players go into every game expecting to win, don't they? Well that coaching mantra could become reality this weekend, and since the V-Reds locked up first place just a few weeks ago, it is now officially a big deal. Coach Gardiner MacDougall has grumbled about the media attention focused on the streak during the season (superstitious any?), but this week the V-Reds marketing folks are trumpeting the streak as a reason to come to the Aitken Centre and not stay home and watch the Olympics (what they maybe should have mentioned is that folks will have lots of time to get home after the game tonight before the opening ceremonies start on TV at 10:00 pm AST).
Michel Belanger and Steve Knowles at the CIS have done a great job keeping the media, and CIS website readers, abreast of the winning streak progress. So everyone should know that the V-Reds are 26-0-0 and just need wins, at home, against StFX tonight and Dalhousie tomorrow to finish their perfect season? Right? But did you know that UNB's last undefeated season in men's hockey was in 1962-63 when they went 8-0-2? Or that their last perfect season was in in 1956-57 when they went 6-0? You can thank Eric Drummie for digging that up.
While trying to stay as neutral as can be possible, even I have to admit that there is little likelihood the Varsity Reds will lose a playoff series to anyone this season. However, the University Cup is all about winning three must-win games, so this weekend might be a pretty good dress rehearsal as both the X-Men and Tigers try to spoil the party at the AUC. UNB has been through something similar not that long ago - in 2007-08 the V-Reds were an AUS record 26-1-1 and undefeated in the second half. They stayed undefeated in the AUS playoffs, won their first two games at the UCup, outshot the Golden Bears 42-25, and still lost the championship to Alberta 3-2.
So as big as the streak is, March in Thunder Bay is more important ...
No. 1 UNB looking for first 28-0 season in CIS history (CIS media release)