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Former UNB hockey coach Gardiner MacDougall joins the Moncton Wildcats


After 24 seasons with the UNB Reds men’s hockey team, Gardiner MacDougall is now the head coach of the QMJHL’s Moncton Wildcats.

The Wildcats made the announcement Wednesday, along with the news MacDougall’s son, Taylor MacDougall, is the team’s new general manager and director of hockey operations.

“Today marks the beginning of a new era! I am thrilled to announce that Gardiner and Taylor will be working together to lead the Moncton Wildcats,” said Robert K. Irving, president of the Moncton Wildcats, in a news release. .

“I want to personally welcome them to our organization. I know our fans will be excited by the dynamic, fast-paced, entertaining and most importantly… winning style of hockey that Gardiner and Taylor bring to the game.”

Gardiner MacDougall announced his retirement from the UNB Reds men's hockey team Tuesday night at a press conference at the Aitken Centre in Fredericton.

He didn’t lose a single game during the 2023/2024 hockey season, an impressive accomplishment for one of the most successful Canadian university coaches of all time.

His squad had a perfect 43-0 season last year and MacDougall won his ninth national championship defeating Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières at the U-Sports final in Toronto.

He finished his remarkable career at UNB with 490 regular season victories, the most by any coach in the history of Canadian men’s university hockey.

MacDougall called his time behind the bench for the Reds an unbelievable experience.

“With all the people here at UNB, in Fredericton, even throughout New Brunswick, we tried to be a difference-maker and created a legacy of high-performance for our university and our province,” said MacDougall.

Everything he touched last year turned to gold.

The 63-year-old also led Canada to a gold medal performance defeating the United States at the IIHF U18 World Championship in Finland in early May.

MacDougall also has a Memorial Cup championship on his resume, something the Wildcats – a team entering its 28th season – have yet to do.

“I have kind of a motto," MacDougall said. "Consistency is the mother of excellence. Incremental improvement is the father. So we have to find a standard. Push that standard as high as we can and then every day is trying to maintain that standard and just get a little bit better.”

MacDougall moved behind the Saint John Sea Dogs bench in the spring of 2022 after the team was eliminated in the first round of the QMJHL playoffs.

The host team defeated Hamilton in the final.

“Every year, you get different opportunities that you look at, probably, that was enhanced this year because of our record and the amount of attention our team got and my time with the under 18 team," said MacDougall.

According to UNB's website, MacDougall made 17 national championship tournament appearances, which is a record.

This year's victory was also his ninth straight appearance, tying him for second overall.

The UNB Reds have won 12 Atlantic University Sport championships with MacDougall as head coach, including the last six seasons.

He leaves UNB with a total record of 732 wins, 232 losses and 21 ties.

Taylor MacDougall said working with his father father is "unique situation."

“It’ll be interesting," he said. "It will have its interesting moments, but at the same time it’s not our first time through it. It’ll be our first time through it on the business side I suppose, but we talk a lot of hockey so I think we’re familiar with each other's thoughts on it."

UNB athletic director Jeff Speedy said Gardiner MacDougall has done an incredible amount for the program, city and province.

“We’re so thankful to have had someone as passionate and as driven as Gardiner for as long as we’ve had him,” said Speedy.

MacDougall did not mention what challenge is next for him, but the Moncton Wildcats have called a press conference at the Avenir Centre on Wednesday morning.

The Wildcats will host the 2024 QMJHL draft on June 7 and 8 at the Avenir Centre.

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