A tearful Shea Kewin was initially left speechless after his team suffered an ironic end to their playoff dreams. Despite managing an 8-7 victory against Moncton in overtime Jan. 26, the point earned by their opponent—the team they were chasing for the last spot—means the Tigers are eliminated from playoff contention.
For Dalhousie, the shortfall signals two years of missed opportunities after putting an end to a seven-year playoff drought in 2011.
By earning a point, Moncton qualifies for the final post-season berth in the AUS.
“It’s a tough way to go out,” Kewin says. “It’s the most disappointing win you can have. It was one of those high-energy atmosphere games where you put a puck on net and you never know what’s going to happen.”
With eight wins under their belt and stuck in seventh place, Kewin and fellow fourth-year graduates Benoit Gervais, Francois Gauthier and fifth-years Jacob Johnston, Chris Ivanko, Brendon MacDonald and Russ Brownell will not see what many AUS athletes hope to experience: a shot at a CIS championship.
“We did win the game, but in the grand scheme of things it did not meet our objectives. We had complete focus, knowing what was on the line. You get in the zone and just play hockey and try and step up to do what you can,” Kewin says.
Competing in the highest-scoring contest in the AUS this season, Dal’s potential was put to the test at the Halifax Forum. Struggling to score all season long, the offence jumped to life at an opportune time. Goals from MacDonald, Patrick Daley, Benjamin Breault, Brett Theberge, Vandall and a hat trick from Kewin would all fall just short.
While trying to salvage the season, head coach Chris Donnelly decided to pull his goalie with two minutes left in regulation in a last-ditch attempt to prevent overtime and keep their season alive.
“They didn’t let up, we also kept our foot on the gas,” says Kewin. “Kudos to them for coming back so strong. We have been through a lot in the last couple of years with some ups and downs—it’s been a bit of a roller coaster. This year, we came in and felt that we deserved better than this.
“Going forward, the important thing is for all the younger guys and those remaining with the program to remember how bad it hurt to not go on.”
The Tigers are still playing for pride. They have three games remaining, two of which are this weekend. Dal plays Saint Mary’s on Friday and Saturday against St. Francis Xavier. Both games are at the Halifax Forum at 7 p.m.