The number one ranked University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds lost to the second ranked University of Alberta Golden Bears in the finals of the Canadian Interuniversity Sport men’s hockey finals on March 23.
UNB rookie Kyle Bailey from Ponoka had two goals in the three-day tournament and had his parents Terry and Heather from Ponoka cheering him on in Moncton.
“It was very intense and a lot of fun with a lot of university and young kids. Moncton is close to Fredricton and there were a lot of people there cheering the team on,” said Terry of the exciting trip.
Although it was not the outcome that they were hoping for considering that UNB was the number one ranked team all season long and U of A was number two Terry thought it was the best two teams in the final.
“He played well the entire tournament, they just got stymied in the last game. UNB out shot them handily (42-25) and the goalie played very well. Kyle knew some of the guys on the Alberta team so there was some motivation to beat them, that was our second choice to win if the UNB didn’t win we were cheering for Alberta.”
The CIS championship was held at the Universite de Moncton March 20 to 23. On March 20, UNB easily defeated the Brock Badgers 6-1, Kyle scored one of the UNB goals in the third period to seal the victory. On March 22, UNB blanked the University of Saskatchewan Huskies 4-0, Kyle opened the scoring for UNB on a power play at 11:28 of the first period. In the final game UNB and U of A were tied going into the third period when Ian McDonald scored at 11:33 to give the Golden Bears the win.
UNB head coach Gardiner MacDougall says that Kyle is a key member of their team and he thinks he is very passionate about hockey and life.
“He has made an outstanding progression throughout the season for us, we knew he would be a player that would have a positive impact on our team and I thought he has been one of our most improved players this season,” said MacDougall. “We knew he would be very good defensively and he has really expanded the offence part of his game.”
Kyle played hockey in Ponoka from when he was six years old until he was 14. He then moved on the WHL where he played four and a half seasons with the Portland Winter Hawks before being traded to the Lethbridge Hurricanes. He finished off his WHL career with 16 goals, 32 assists and 100 penalty minutes. He was also a fifth round draft pick for the Minnesota Wild.
During the Atlantic University Sport (AUS) final against Saint Mary’s he scored the winning goal in double overtime on a penalty shot.
Kyle, who is studying business at UNB is on a WHL scholarship. His father explained that for every year he played in the WHL he gets a year of schooling paid for. During his first year he obtained a 3.4 GPA, which is in the ‘A’ range.
In his first year at UNB Kyle played 28 games for the AUS champions who were 26-1-0-1 in the regular season and 4-0 in the playoffs. He had 10 goals, 18 assists and was a plus nine.
MacDougall thinks that Kyle is an asset for the team.
“He has fit very well in our community and he has a zest for success and certainly people from the Ponoka area can be very proud of him, he is certainly going to make his way in the hockey world after he leaves UNB.”