Tyler Boland’s ascension to the perch of the Atlantic university hockey scoring charts shouldn’t shock anyone.
The UNB Reds sophomore forward has always been an offensive threat.
“I definitely feel more comfortable this season,” said the centre from St. John’s. “I have some great teammates. The points come, but I’m just happy when the team can get the win and seeing us at the top of the standings is the best part.”
Boland has tallied 13 goals and 26 points in 18 games for the U Sports No. 1 men’s hockey team in the nation. The 22-year-old trails teammate Chris Clapperton by one point for the conference lea , is second in goals scored behind the country’s top scorer, Maxime St-Cyr of Moncton (18) and sports a plus-19 rating.
Before the AUS month-long holiday/exam break, Boland was on a tear that saw him score 21 points in 12 games.
However, the lengthy hiatus didn’t seem to slow him down. In an exhibition game against the University of Lethbridge over the weekend, he had a goal and an assist as part of a plus-four game as UNB prevailed 8-3.
It was just more proof that Boland can score anytime, anywhere.
“Last year, we had a good group of rookies who are second-years now and gaining that experience of losing in the semifinals at nationals can sometimes help us. There’s a sense of guilt in losing and we don’t want to feel that again.”
He came to Fredericton after a sensational overage season with the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s Rimouski Oceanic. Boland finished second in league scoring with 103 points in 2016-17, one point back of leader Vitaly Abramov of Gatineau.
It was the fifth-most points scored in one QMJHL season by a Newfoundlander.
Boland — whose cousin Trevor played four seasons at UNB in the 1990s — was part of a bumper crop of first-years who joined UNB last season.
That group included AUS rookie of the year Kris Bennett, defenceman Olivier LeBlanc (second among AUS blue-liners this season with 14 points) and goalie Rylan Parenteau, who leads the conference with a 1.72 goals against average.
Now, they’re sophomores, and along with veterans like Clapperton, Stephen Anderson, Cameron Brace and Randy Gazzola, they have helped propelled UNB to a 15-0-3 record at the holiday break. The Reds, who resume their 2018-19 schedule on Friday when they host the Saint Mary’s Huskies, are the only team in the country without a loss in regulation time.
Boland said after UNB lost in overtime to the St. Francis Xavier X-Men in the 2018 University Cup national championship semifinal in Fredericton and had to settle for a bronze medal, they have a score to settle this season.
“Last year, we had a good group of rookies who are second-years now and gaining that experience of losing in the semifinals at nationals can sometimes help us,” Boland said. “There’s a sense of guilt in losing and we don’t want to feel that again.
“We’re pleased with the way we have played so far but I wouldn’t say we’re satisfied. We just have to keep playing the way we have been. It’s not broken so why fix it?
“The hockey steps up in the second half but we’ll be able to step up with it,” he added. “I think we’re going to be more prepared going into the second half. It’s a start of something special here and I’m excited to get going again. It should be fun down the stretch.”