(FREDERICTON, NB) There have been 23 Mark Jeffrey Memorial Games.
The UNB Varsity Reds have an impressive record in the annual contest, going 17-5-and-1 over the years.
That may be because of the focus on legacies in the Varsity Reds program.
“The first thing you learn from Gardiner when you get to UNB is the tradition of the program and the players and teams that have come before you,” says Rob Hennigar.
Hennigar is the team’s current associate coach, but is also a former Varsity Red. “From the first week of camp, we were made aware of the impact Mark Jeffrey had on this program and in the community. Mark was a leader, competitor and mentor.”
Mark Jeffrey played four seasons with the UNB hockey team. He was an AUS all-star twice, led the team to the 1984 AUS championship and was named UNB male athlete of the year, in 1985. After his playing days, Jeffrey served as both an assistant and head coach.
Mark Jeffrey passed away in 1991. His number, 17, was retired the following season.
“This game is always circled on the UNB calendar and it’s one that our players take pride in, “ says Hennigar.
The Varsity Reds come into the 24th Mark Jeffrey Game riding a seven game AUS win streak.
In their last game, on Saturday, in Wolfville, UNB knocked off the CIS top-ranked Acadia Axemen in a decisive 4-0 triumph.
The last time the Tommies visited the Aitken Centre was November 4th, when the Varsity Reds handed them an 11-2 loss.
But, St. Thomas split last weekend’s game, recording just their second win of the season.
“STU is playing good hockey right now,” says Hennigar. “They just beat Dal, a team we were scoreless with for 55 minutes, two weeks ago.”
On top of the excitement surrounding the Jeffrey Game, Bell Let’s Talk will be on hand as well.
January 27th is Bell Let’s Talk Day, across Canada. It’s Bell’s effort to raise money for mental health issues and eliminate stigmas.
Student-athletes throughout Atlantic University Sport have been actively promoting Bell Let’s Talk Day, including five Varsity Reds.
Hennigar says the players know about the extra activities, but will be focused on their play. “These guys have all played in big games and know what it takes to get prepared. It’s an exciting opportunity for our guys and will be a good challenge for us.”
The Varsity Reds have won the last 12 Mark Jeffrey games and are unbeaten in the last 14.
The Tommies have provided the opposition in 21 editions of the contest and have won it four times.
“Every year is different and each team is different,” according to Hennigar. “One thing they all have in common is they’re trying to play a game that Mark would be proud of.”