Men’s hockey falters out of the gate
Slow starts are an issue after opening weekend
Backup rookie goaltender Wendell Vye saw his first action in a Tigers uniform Saturday, Oct. 15 in the team’s second game of the season after starter Bobby Nadeau surrendered three goals on nine shots in a disappointing 7 – 2 defeat to Moncton at Memorial Arena.
The Tigers played their home opener the night before, coming out with a 2 – 1 victory against the St. Thomas Tommies.
Vye, one of a number of new Tigers this season, including fifth-year transfers David MacDonald and Zach Firlotte, made 13 saves in the relief effort, conceding four goals.
“I think we started better than we did last night, but we got into some penalty trouble early and a few bad bounces came our way,” said Vye. “It just felt like after we got down by a few we gave up on ourselves in the end. It’s not the way I pictured it, but we’ll bounce back.”
Patrick Daley and Benoit Gervais had Dal’s two goals, while there were seven different scorers for Moncton. Alex Quesnel, Guillaume Parenteau, Simon Jodoin, Eric Faille, Christian Gaudet, Maxime Pilon and Marc-Andre Cote all scored for the visitors.
Fresh off their first taste of the playoffs in seven years, the Tigers struggled with slow starts in their opening weekend, falling behind early in the first period of both matches. This trend, however, is nothing new for the Tigers. The issue has persisted from last season into the exhibition schedule and now, it seems, the regular season, it seems.
“I think guys have to be more mentally prepared when we start,” said Vye. “It’s a tough league and other teams are going to come out and hop on it really quick. They get on you as quick as they can so I think we have to go through and make some adjustments to fix things up.”
Against the Tommies, however, the result was more favourable for the Tigers. Despite a sluggish beginning, the team managed to squeak out a 2 – 1 victory after St. Thomas began the scoring just 27 seconds into the season.
Benjamin Breault evened the game for the Tigers at one apiece after a weak slot found the back of the net 13 minutes into the opening frame. The eventual winner from Jordan Villeneuve-Gagne came 3:08 into the third period.
Dal gave up five power play opportunities in the victory but the Tommies were unable to capitalize.
“When things aren’t going well for your team, you don’t get a lot of shots,” said Dal defenceman Brett Plouffe, referring to St. Thomas’s performance. “So, they might try and change their style a little bit. They might try and get in our face to make us take stupid penalties so that they can capitalize on them, but I think we stayed pretty calm and managed to make the best of it.”
As Plouffe points out, the difference in the game was Dal’s work ethic. Despite a weak start, the Tigers managed to come out in the second and third periods of their season opener with strong efforts. Opposite Acadia, the home side seemed to be a step behind the speedy Moncton players, playing catch up and not fighting for the puck.
The Tigers will get their second crack at both teams this weekend with an Oct. 21 matchup in St. Thomas and the next day in Moncton. The two matches are at 7 p.m. and will be broadcast online at SSN Canada.