2018 Golden Bears - U SPORTS Champions
The University of Alberta Golden Bears hockey team will raise their 16th U SPORTS National Championship banner to the rafters of Clare Drake Arena before their season-opener on Saturday night. The pre-game ceremony will take place at 7:00 p.m., before the Golden Bears take on the Saskatchewan Huskies.
Tickets for the Canada West opener are available online at ticketmaster.ca
, while both the ceremony and game will be streamed live on Canada West TV
. The second half of the opening series will go on Sunday night, with puck drop scheduled for 6:00 p.m.
The Golden Bears are coming off one of their best seasons in program history, as they captured their 27th Canada West title in February, before winning their third national title in five seasons in March. Both their conference and national championship totals represent all-time records.
Not only will Saturday’s game be an eventful one with the banner celebration, it will also mark the newest chapter in the most historic rivalry in Canada West hockey. The Golden Bears defeated the Huskies in two games in last year’s Canada West Final, before eliminating the Huskies in the U SPORTS semifinal. The two powerhouse programs have met in three-straight conference finals, and have combined to win each of the past 22 Canada West Championships (ALB – 16, SSK – 6). The Golden Bears and Huskies met seven times last season, with Alberta winning six.
1967/68 Golden Bears
The Golden Bears will also honour the 50th anniversary of the 1967/68 national champion Golden Bears during Saturday’s game. The ‘67/’68 Golden Bears earned their second national title in the spring of 1968, defeating the Loyola Warriors 5-4 in the national final. Head coach Clare Drake also led the Golden Bears football squad to a Vanier Cup title that same season, and is still the only head coach to win two national titles in the same season.
After a three-year sabbatical, former Golden Bears defenceman Ian Herbers has returned to coach the Golden Bears. From 2012 to 2015, Herbers led the Bears to a 116-19 overall record and two national championships. He spent the last three seasons as an assistant coach with the Edmonton Oilers.
Western League graduates
‘Quality over quantity’ is an appropriate term that could be used to describe the Golden Bears recruiting class. Former WHL captains Grayson Pawlenchuk and Curtis Miske are the only new additions to the Golden Bears to start the season. Miske captained the Prince Albert Raiders last season, finishing with a career-high 64 points in 72 games. Pawlenchuk served as the captain of the Red Deer Rebels, also setting a career-high with 52 points last season.
Stat of the series
The Golden Bears open the season with a 61-18-3 all-time record in Canada West season-openers. That number jumps dramatically when at Clare Drake Arena, as they own a 34-6 record. Four of those six losses, however, are against the Saskatchewan Huskies. Saskatchewan is 42-39-1 all-time in the season-opener.