Former Blizzard coach honoured by CIS

Former OCN Blizzard Head Coach Gardiner MacDougall was honoured this week by Canadian Interuniversity Sport.   MacDougall, who led the Blizzard to several championships, won the the Jean-Marie De Koninck Coaching Excellence Award, which honours an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to university sport as demonstrated by long-term commitment and leadership as a coach at the local, provincial, national and/or international levels.   “It is so fitting that Gardiner receive this prestigious national honour,” said UNB President Dr. Eddy Campbell. “He holds such devotion to the sport, to his team and his players. Gardiner’s talent and inspirational leadership loom large behind the University of New Brunswick’s long run as a top-ranked hockey program.”   MacDougall just completed his 15th season at the helm of the University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds, one of Canada’s most successful university hockey programs. The native of Bedeque, PEI, signed a five-year contract last summer to continue his impressive journey at UNB and promptly helped lead a youthful V-Reds squad with 13 new faces to the Atlantic University Sport title and a CIS silver medal in 2014-15.   Since he took over the program in 2000-01, MacDougall has guided UNB to 15 straight AUS semifinals, six conference banners and nine University Cup championship appearances, including four CIS titles (2007, 2009, 2011, 2013) in six trips to the national final. The V-Reds have topped the Atlantic standings in each of the past eight campaigns.   MacDougall became the winningest head coach in team history in only his sixth season at the helm in 2006 and has since become the all-time AUS leader in regular season wins (292) and playoff victories (53). He boasts career records of 448-181-20 overall (.706), 292-110-18 in league play (.717) and 73-39 in post-season action (.652), including a 20-6 mark at the CIS championship (.769), good for third place on the University Cup all-time wins list. In 2009-10, the V-Reds posted a remarkable 27-1 mark in the regular season, establishing new CIS standards for most conference wins in a single campaign and most consecutive victories from the start of a season (26).   Their combined 33 wins in 2007-08 in conference and post-season play are also a CIS record, tied with two other teams. In recent years, MacDougall has also proved successful at the international level, helping a pair of Canadian teams made up of AUS all-stars capture gold at the Winter Universiade, first as an assistant coach in 2007 at Torino, Italy, and then as a head coach in 2013 at Trentino, Italy.   Upon graduation from St Francis Xavier University (BSc. P-ED) and Saint Mary’s University (B-ED), MacDougall became a full-time teacher in Manitoba and Saskatchewan. That is where his coaching career began, in the Manitoba Amateur Hockey Association, the Manitoba Junior Hockey League and the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League, where he was named coach of the year on four separate occasions and claimed four provincial and league championships.   “Gardiner continuously strives for excellence in everything he does while inspiring those around him to do the same,” says UNB Director of Athletics, John Richard. “His passion for his work and the sport of hockey is infectious, and his dedication to developing the full potential of student-athletes reaches far beyond their performance on the ice. He’s not only reason for the level of success of our men’s hockey program, but he’s the main reason. Gardiner is extremely deserving of this honour, placing his name alongside the tremendous coaching legends who have garnered this award in the past.”   MacDougall now resides in New Maryland, N.B., with wife Lee and children Taylor, a fourth-year member of the hockey V-Reds, and Madison, a third-year UNB student.