Canada West hockey returns to the University of Alberta this weekend. The University of Alberta Golden Bears, the reigning Canada West Champions begin their 2019-2020 season the road. Much like last season, U Sports hockey starts in a staggered format. The Golden Bears start this weekend and the Pandas begin their 2019-2020 season next weekend. The Pandas season will open at home on October 4th and 5th.
The Golden Bears start their campaign in Vancouver on Friday night. After a thrilling 2018-2019 season which saw the Golden Bears reach the finals of the U Sports National Championship, they find themselves a much different team this September. Probably the most decorated team in Canadian men’s university hockey, the Golden Bears have begun what they hope is another long season ending in their 17th National Championship. The Golden Bears also go looking for their fourth straight Canada West Championship.
It is a new look Golden Bears team which takes the ice this season. The Golden Bears had an absolutely ridiculous amount of players either finish their eligibility, graduate, or move on to professional opportunities. Some of which was expected, and others not so much… This resulted in a recruiting class of 14 players for the Golden Bears. That’s more than half a hockey team!
The Golden Bears added forwards Chad Butcher, Matt Fonteyne, Ryan Jevne, Josh Paterson, Noah Philp (who has the same number as his older brother who just moved on from the Golden Bears to a professional deal), Luc Smith, and Nolan Volcan. This group of forwards more than doubles the Golden Bears recruiting class of last year which was three forwards – Pawlenchuck, Miske, and Soy.
The Golden Bears also added defenders Chizen, Davidson, Freadrich, Hamaliuk, and Lakusta. Finally, they added goatlenders Berlin and Outhouse. However, Griffen Outhouse’s time with the Golden Bears seems to be short-lived. He signed a 1-year contract with the Manitoba Moose on September 23rd. This leaves the Golden Bears with only two goaltenders currently on their roster instead of the more standard three found in U Sports.
The Golden Bears leave the preseason with a 5-1 record. Two of their wins were in overtime, which is less of a factor in men’s university hockey than women’s, and their sole loss came to the ever-difficult Calgary Dinos. Ranked first in the Canada West Men’s Hockey Coaches pre-season rankings, even this inexperienced Golden Bears team is expected to make an impact in Canada West play. It is interesting to note, the Golden Bears often times play teams from the NCAA as part of their pre-season. However, this year it was their opening weekend opponents the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds who hosted an NCAA team.
The Golden Beats and the Thunderbirds played twice in the preseason and the Golden Bears won both of those meetings. The preseason meetings may not be as indicative of future results as Golden Bears fans could hope as there is always a considerable amount of work around integrating new players that takes place in the preseason.
The Golden Bears will return to Clare Drake to open their season on home ice on October 11th and 12th against possibly their toughest historic rival – the University of Saskatchewan Huskies.