‘Driven to win’
MacPherson appreciative of support shown by UPEI
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