Women good: Men bad… but Improving.
Last week I reviewed the first term performances of the Men’s and Women’s Soccer and Basketball teams.
This week I’ll be writing about the AUS championship contending women’s hockey team and the rebuilt Tigers men’s hockey team.
Tigers Women’s Hockey
The women’s hockey team have definitely met expectations in Tiger Town after one term of play. The only thing that slowed down this team was the swine flu in early November. The Tigers came into the season looking to make the jump from middle of the pack to contender in a conference that has been dominated in recent years by Moncton and Saint FX.
Dalhousie has been very tough against Tier 2 teams like Saint Mary’s and St.Thomas, while taking care of business against the weaker teams in the conference. They finished the term with a 7-3 record for third place, but they had 2 games with teams from New Brunswick postponed due to the swine flu epidemic.
Head Coach Lesley Jordan and Captain Laura Shearer have both said they expect to win the AUS conference championship. Heading into the second term this ambitious team will need to find someone who can score on a regular basis besides Jocelyn Lemieux. Lemieux leads the team with 19 points, 11 greater than Robin Nicholson and Fielding Montgomery, tied for second with 8.
The Tigers have a losing record this season against the X-Women and Blue Eagles, although they have played both teams tight on route to a combined 1-2 record.
The Tigers are loaded on the defensive end with a crop of big solid players mixed in with feisty skaters who can move the puck and quarterback the powerplay.
Goaltender Ashley Boutlier has been stellar with a 2.26 G.A.A.
The Tigers will need scoring output from other players if they are going to take down St FX and Moncton. The team gets an early test with a pivotal match up vs. the Blue Eagles on January 9th at the Dalhousie Arena.
Tigers Men’s Hockey
Revamped, reloaded, and rebuilding were all adjectives used in September to describe the Dalhousie Tigers. Pete Belliveau spent the entire summer on planes, trains, and automobiles to try and turn around a program that has been the worst in the country since 2003.
“Honestly I thought things would be a little bit better by this point,” said Coach Belliveau in an interview last month, referring to the team’s 2-8-2 record. That interview came an hour before the Tigers biggest win of the season, a drubbing of the St FX X-Men at the Dalhousie Memorial Arena. The Tigers finished the term the next night with a gritty overtime loss to the powerhouse SMU Huskies. Dalhousie has 9 points heading into January, 3 less than Belliveau’s anticipated goal of 12.
The Tigers are on pace to win 6 – 7 games, but could get close to 10 if Benjamin Breault is as good as advertised. The former 7th round pick of the Buffalo Sabres joins the team after a short career playing professional hockey in the East Coast League. Breault figures to bring some scoring punch to a team that is desperate for a legitimate sniper.
“Three lines of Guy Carbonneaus” is how Tiger’s Colour Commentator on ssncanada.ca, Steve Betts, has described the team, referring to their inability to put the puck in the net. Dalhousie has shown toughness and team speed, but goals have been at a premium.
The team has suffered from undisciplined play, receiving no fewer than 4 suspensions for illegal hits, and has looked completely lost for long stretches in their own zone. The stellar play of rookie netminder Bobby Nadeau has kept the Tigers in many games and given the team opportunities to pull games out late. Nadeau was lost for several weeks in November to swine flu.
With Moncton struggling and UPEI going through turbulent times, the Tigers have a chance to make the AUS playoffs for the first time in several years. Pete Belliveau is in year 2 of his 3 year rebuilding program, and a trip to the second season would be a significant step forward for the program.
Next Week: Men’s and Women’s Volleyball
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