The Dalhousie Tigers men’s hockey team opened their pre-season on Saturday Sept. 23 with a 6-0 win over the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks. Four of the six goals were scored in just under two minutes in the second period.
The top line of reigning AUS (Atlantic University Sport) rookie of the year Phil Gadoury, last season’s leading scorer Fabian Walsh and second year forward Felix Page combined for 6 points. Second year defenseman and former Halifax Moosehead Jesse Lussier led the way on the back end with two assists.
The Tigers outshot the Golden Hawks 41-31, but the shot totals belie the Tigers’ stout defence on the night – none of the 31 shots on second year goalie Corbin Boes were particularly high quality scoring chances.
The animosity between the two teams was apparent, and surprising for two teams in opposite conferences that never face each other in the regular season. Head coach Chris Donnelly said this sort of emotion is to be expected. “Both teams have a lot of pride, you know they come down here representing their conference, and we are representing ours. And we hadn’t played in a while so we wanted to get right back into competition mode.”
While the Tigers did not qualify for the AUS post-season last year, they finished strong with a 5-6-2 record in their final 13 games and are looking to build off of that this season. With most of the players returning to wear the black and gold, the Tigers feel confident that they can do some damage in the league this year. In addition, more than half the team is comprised of players in their first two years of athletic eligibility, so the Tigers should be strong for years to come. With all of the players coming from a Junior A or Major Junior background, the Tigers play a fast and exciting game.
“Despite what the numbers say, we were actually very strong defensively last season, we gave up the fewest goals against for a Dalhousie [men’s hockey] team in 25 years,” Donnelly said. “For this season, we are focusing on changing the way the game is played, looking to produce more offense, but we have a great group of guys, the guys really care.”
Going two for five on the power play certainly was a nice confidence boost for a team that struggled to score last season. The defence was also strong with Dalhousie going seven for seven on the penalty kill, and third year starting goalie and reigning first team AUS All-Star Corbin Boes making 31 saves for the shutout.
“It was nice to start off the season with a shutout for sure, I was happy with my game,”I let out a few rebounds, but overall I felt pretty good,” said Boes. “We haven’t been in the playoffs for a while. We are definitely hoping to turn a corner in the league. The new guys coming in have been great, we have a pretty young team, so I have high hopes for this season for sure.”
If the Tigers continue to play the way they did against the Golden Hawks throughout the season, then they should have no problem improving their spot in the standings and making the AUS playoffs for just the second time since the 2004-2005 season.