‘Driven to win’

MacPher­son ap­pre­cia­tive of sup­port shown by UPEI

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - SPORTS - BY JA­SON MAL­LOY AND DAVE STE­WART

Forbes MacPher­son is com­mit­ted to build­ing a cham­pi­onship-cal­i­bre hockey team at UPEI.

His Pan­thers have made the play­offs all eight sea­sons he’s been at the helm of the men’s pro­gram, made it to the At­lantic Univer­sity Sport (AUS) semi­fi­nal three times and been ranked on the coun­try’s top-10 list many weeks along the way.

The univer­sity re­cently re­warded MacPher­son with a four-year con­tract run­ning through 2020-21.

“I am very pas­sion­ate about UPEI hockey. I am very pas­sion­ate about the univer­sity and ath­let­ics and am driven to win here at UPEI,” MacPher­son said.

MacPher­son’s clubs have worked hard dur­ing his ten­ure, but have been un­able to reach the fi­nal in the tough­est con­fer­ence in U Sports.

“We’ve been very close a cou­ple of years,” the Strat­ford res­i­dent said.

“Had we had a break or two, then we could have pushed the en­ve­lope a lit­tle fur­ther and went deeper in the play­offs.”

There are many in­gre­di­ents re­quired to win an AUS ti­tle, in­clud­ing tal­ented, skilled skaters, hot goal­tend­ing and ex­pe­ri­ence while avoid­ing key in­juries.

Ath­let­ics and re­cre­ation di­rec­tor Chris Hug­gan said the de­part­ment has usu­ally of­fered three-year con­tracts to its coaches.

“When we look at all that For­bie has done in eight years, we felt like we wanted to hon­our his work and look for­ward to hav­ing him along for longer than the three (years),” he said.

“It def­i­nitely cre­ates sta­bil­ity. A re­cruit knows that for those who start there’s four years with For­bie. It’s cer­tainly a big plus.”

The Pan­thers are com­ing off a reg­u­lar sea­son where they went 11-15-4 and lost a three-game se­ries to Saint Mary’s, which ap­peared to be a tossup to see who would ad­vance.

They have lost five veter­ans, in­clud­ing de­fence­men Nel­son Arm­strong, Brock Beuke­boom and Derek Ry­ck­man as well as for­wards Craig MacLauch­lan and J.C. Cam­pagna.

MacPher­son knows the team has to im­prove.

Some of that is ex­pected to come from within, as UPEI had 11 play­ers see their first AUS ac­tion last sea­son.

But there also will be some new blood com­ing to the Char­lot­te­town cam­pus this fall.

“We have added a cou­ple of bod­ies that haven’t been an­nounced yet (but) will be in the very near fu­ture.”

MacPher­son said the re­cruit­ing game is al­ways tough and has only be­come harder with On­tario uni­ver­si­ties ramp­ing up their pro­grams in the past cou­ple of years.

“You can’t draft these guys and they can’t be­come your prop­erty” like ju­nior hockey.

MacPher­son said he ap­pre­ci­ated the con­fi­dence the de­part­ment and administration has shown him.

He added it’s not a one-man show and he has been blessed to be sur­rounded by a very com­mit­ted sup­port group, in­clud­ing as­sis­tant coaches, the Friends of Men’s Hockey group and aca­demic ad­vis­ers.

“These peo­ple are the pulse of our pro­gram,” he said.

“When we look at all that For­bie has done in eight years, we felt like we wanted to hon­our his work and look for­ward to hav­ing him along for longer than the three (years). It def­i­nitely cre­ates sta­bil­ity. A re­cruit knows that for those who start there’s four years with For­bie. It’s cer­tainly a big plus.” Chris Hug­gan

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Forbes MacPher­son

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