This past Wednesday there was exhibition men’s hockey played at Dalhousie Memorial Arena in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
The night before the game I hardly slept. I felt like I was 12 years old again, staring at the ceiling, anxiously awaiting the morning and my 8:30 am Pee Wee game.
It was my first play by play broadcast of men’s hockey for ssncanada.ca.
Sure, it was exhibition hockey. But I couldn’t wait.
Steve Betts and I had the call on http://www.ssncanada.ca/game/574/. The defending AUS champion Huskies made the 10 block walk through the south end of Halifax to play the rebuilt Dalhousie Tigers.
The Huskies had everyone back from last year’s team that suffered a historic collapse at nationals. The Tigers had several survivors from the basement dwelling team of 2008, surrounded by one of the nation’s top recruiting classes, the first in the Pete Belliveau era.
The Huskies, fresh off winning the Don Wells Classic at Acadia, jumped out to an early 2-0 lead, thanks in no small part to the stellar play of reigning of AUS MVP, Marc Rancourt.
It was looking like business as usual for the champs, going about their routine at Dalhousie Memorial Arena, brushing aside the hapless Tigers.
But just wait.
The Tigers came roaring back. Two goals to end the first period to tie the game, three goals in the second to build an insurmountable lead, and two more in the third, bringing the total of unanswered Dalhousie goals to seven, and sending the Huskies to their first loss of the exhibition season.
The Dalhousie Tigers, with over 10 new players brought onto campus by Coach Pete Belliveau, may just be a legitimate AUS hockey team. Belliveau’s crew of tough luck kids from last year, combined with newcomers from all over the world, could be a contender in the CIS’s toughest conference for men’s hockey.
In contrast, they may have been fortunate and caught a very good hockey team on a down night coming off a big exhibition hockey tournament win down in Wolfville.
We’ll know more on October 16th, when these two teams meet again at Dalhousie Memorial Arena, in a game that actually counts, and can be seen live on ssncanada.ca.
Bobby Nadeau, the first year goaltender for the Tigers, was stellar. The highly respected former QMJHL goalie, played last year for the PEI Rocket, and is well known as the goalie who was beaten down upon by Jonathon Roy, in the highly controversial case of Patrick Roy’s son and his vicious assault on Nadeau 2 seasons ago. Nadeau was as solid as it gets vs. SMU and could be a huge factor this year in the AUS…..The teams got into a colourful exchange of hostilities in the first period. SMU’s 6’7” monster defenceman, Justin Wollingford, took a hit from behind in the corner by Tigers newcomer Daniel Bartek of the Czech Republic. Upon discovering no penalty call was forthcoming, Wollingford took it upon himself to skate over to the Tigers bench as Bartek was heading off, and gave the Czech a little one hander to the back of the leg. Moments later, Wollingford accidentally kneed Sweeney of the Tigers as he fell down coming across the blue line, earning the big fella an undeserved penalty. After the whistle, Wollingford appeared to spear Trevor Mckenzie, which drew the ire of Tigers Assistant Captain Ryan Jenner, which lead to a heated exchanged of pleasantries. The Tigers/Huskies rivalry could be back!…..Speaking of Wollingford, he lowered the boom on Mathew Stoddard of the Tigers in the 3rd period. Stoddard got held by a Huskie forward as he approached the SMU zone, lost balance, and just got flattened by Wollingford….. The Dalhousie line of Mckenzie, Sweeney, and Villeneauve-Gagne were the best crop of forwards for both teams. They literally took over the second period and turned the tide in the Tiger’s favour…..1st year defenceman Benoit Gervais was very impressive for the Tigers as well….although they didn’t score many goals on this night, watching the Huskie’s talented forwards Marc Rancourt and Cam Fergus work together is something special.