UNB coach wins 500th game

(Submitted by Andy Campbell)

When the buzzer sounded after the UNB Reds’ 10-0 victory against the Dalhousie University Tigers on Nov. 22, it didn’t just mark their 11th win of the season. It signaled a milestone. A milestone that took 20 different teams, a lot of players, coaches and a little bit of luck.

It was the 500th win of the legendary career of head coach Gardiner MacDougall.

But MacDougall said he can’t take full credit, it takes team effort each season.

“You have to have a lot of great players and a lot of great assistants or associate coaches,” MacDougall said of his accomplishment.

“I’ve been really fortunate to have a lot of great people here.”

The win was also the fifth time MacDougall ended the game with a margin of 10 goals, his largest as the Reds’ head coach.

MacDougall started coaching UNB hockey in 2000. In his 20th season as head coach, he has accomplished about everything a university sports coach can.

MacDougall has won Atlantic University Sport Coach of the Year five times, his most recent in 2017. He was named the Canada’s coach of the year in 2010 and 2017 and has won seven national championships in a 12-year span. He’s led UNB to its most successful season in AUS history, going a near perfect 31-1-1 in in 2008.

Surprisingly, MacDougall wasn’t UNB’s first choice for the head coach position. He applied three times before getting his shot.

MacDougall applied a couple years prior to his debut in 2000. UNB was looking for an alumni to coach the team, but MacDougall was a St. Francis Xavier University graduate, where he earned a physical education degree and an education degree and was assistant coach for the women’s hockey team. MacDougall got his chance when the organization’s original choice ended up choosing to stay in Ontario to coach.

“I really enjoyed the city and the hockey program. The team was going quite well then,” he said.

“Sometimes you got to persevere and be a little resilient.”

MacDougall has enjoyed his time in Fredericton since his arrival in 2000. His wife is a physical education teacher and his son played at UNB from 2012 to 2014 before playing a year of professional hockey in Europe. MacDougall’s daughter is finishing up her third degree at UNB.

“It’s been terrific for our family … I can’t say enough about the city and the people in the city. They’re so supportive.”

MacDougall quickly changed his focus after his 500th win and is more focused on preparing his team for the rest of the season to defend their USport championship. The Reds currently sit in second place in the AUS with a 12-4 record.

“Our goal is to be the most improved team in the AUS.”