(FREDERICTON, NB) Two high-profile Western Hockey League veterans have chosen to pursue their educations and further their hockey careers with the UNB Varsity Reds.
Forward Mark Rassell and defenceman Joe Gatenby have signed U SPORTS Letters of Intent, and will join the Varsity Reds beginning in the 2018-19 season.
Mark Rassell spent four seasons with the WHL’s Medicine Hat Tigers, playing 274 regular season games, scoring 103 goals and 78 assists along the way.
2017-18 was a breakout year for the Calgary native. He scored 50 goals and 30 assists while serving as the Tigers’ captain.
“Mark is a key addition to our team,” said Varsity Reds head coach Gardiner MacDougall. “He’s had a strong WHL career, and his last two seasons have been outstanding. Any time you can add a player who scored 50 goals in a season to your line-up you get excited.”
“Coming off a 50-goal season in the WHL, I believe my offensive instincts will help add another piece to an already strong roster as we pursue a national championship together,” said Rassell.
Rassell, who attended the Calgary Flames training camp in 2017, claimed a number of season-end awards in Medicine Hat, including awards for most goals, most points(co-winner), MVP(co-winner), community service, 3 Stars, and the team’s Lanny McDonald Leadership Award.
While he comes from western Canada, Mark won’t be the first Rassell at UNB.
His grandfather attended UNB and both of his parents earned Masters degrees at UNBSJ.
“I chose UNB for many reasons,” he said. “I love the culture of winning the hockey team holds. Six of the last twelve national championships proves that I’ll be going to a program that knows how to win, and that is what I want to achieve.”
“Mark has been one of the most improved players in the Western league, and his playoff pedigree is impressive. He scored eight goals in six games this season, and seven goals in 11 games the year before. He’ll be a key contributor for our hockey club with his hard work and ability to find open ice and go to the dirty areas to score goals.”
Rassell will study Business at UNB.
Joe Gatenby recently completed a stellar five year WHL career in which he played 317 regular season games with the Kelowna Rockets and Kamloops Blazers.
"Joe is a player we’ve watched closely all season and are very excited to get him to UNB,” said MacDougall.
In his fifth and final season, as a member of the Blazers, Gatenby scored 13 goals and 46 assists, for a career high 59 points. He also played a total of ten games, 6 regular season and 4 playoff games, with the Atlanta Gladiators, of the East Coast Hockey League, averaging almost a point a game.
“I’m thrilled to have the privilege and responsibility of helping to carry on a culture of extremely high standards,” said Gatenby. “The Varsity Reds have helped a lot of players move on to high level professional hockey, and to be successful people. UNB is a program that I feel will help push me to be the best player and person I can be, and is where I think I will be surrounded by like-minded people.”
Gatenby was a member of Kelowna’s WHL championship team in 2015 and a Memorial Cup finalist. He served as a Rockets assistant captain and was named the team’s top defenceman in 2015-16.
He was a Blazers’ assistant captain in 2016-17 and 2017-18 and was named Kamloops’ top defenceman both seasons.
“We pride ourselves on always improving at UNB and Joe has had a tremendous career. He improved every season, culminating with a 50-point season. His defensive game is very good and we look forward to his hard work and passion at UNB.”
Gatenby attended the Buffalo Sabres development camp in 2015 and the Chicago Blackhawks NHL pre-draft combine the same year.
The Calgary-born defenceman stands 6’0” and weighs 192 pounds. He graduated from Kelowna Secondary School in 2015 and has already completed courses at Athabasca University and Thompson Rivers University.
Like Rassell, Gatenby plans on studying Business at UNB.
Both will begin their Varsity Reds careers when UNB Hockey opens training camp, on August 31st.