The University of Alberta Golden Bears hockey team will open their 2015-16 pre-season schedule on the road, when they take on the University of Alberta Augustana Vikings in the battle of (U)Alberta on Thursday, September 3rd, at 7:30 p.m.at the EnCana Arena in Camrose.
This will be the 28th meeting between the two squads, with the Vikings pulling off the surprising 6-0 victory last year. The win marked only the second time Augustana has beaten the Golden Bears, with their last victory coming back in 1979.
The Golden Bears are entering the season as the two time defending CIS national champions, after successfully defending their title in Halifax. The Vikings on the other hand are coming off their second consecutive third place finish in the ACAC.
After last season’s successful title defense, the Bears come into the 2015-16 season as the CIS favorites once again. The Bears will be returning a crop of key players from last season, including Canada West goal scoring leader and Canada West all-star Jordan Hickmott. Hickmott led the conference with 19 goals in 28 games in 2014-15, and also contributed 21 assists. Joining Hickmott for another season in the green and gold will be team captain Kruise Reddick, along with forwards Brett Ferguson and Stephane Legault. Reddick, who also earned a Canada West all-star nod last year, is entering his second year as captain, while Ferguson and Legault, a member of the 2014 CIS all-rookie team, combined for 49 points last year. The trio will be heavily relied upon this year, as Alberta will be without 2014 Canada West points leader T.J. Foster. Foster, last season’s Canada West MVP, signed a two year AHL contract with the Toronto Marlies after last year’s University Cup.
The Bears will also be returning a group of veterans on the back end in defenseman Thomas Carr, and Jordan Rowley, as well as goalie Luke Siemens. Despite playing as mostly the second string net minder last season, Siemens still finished fourth in the conference with ten wins.
Augustana on the other hand is coming off a second straight bronze medal finish, their fifth consecutive medal overall, and will be looking to regain their 2012 form in which the Vikings won the ACAC provincial title. The Vikings will be lining up a veteran squad for their match on the third of September, including former Golden Bear Alex Rodgers. Rodgers finished second on the team in scoring last season with 30 points in 31 games. The Vikings will begin regular season play on September 25th.
Alberta will continue their pre-season schedule on the 16th of September for the annual Oiler rookie exhibition game at Rexall Place, followed by the 31st annual Brick Invitational Tournament on the 25th and 26th of September. The quest for the programs first three-peat since 1978-1980 will begin on October 9th and 10th, as they open the regular season on the road against the Lethbridge Pronghorns.