Around this time last year, Dalhousie’s women’s hockey team not only caught the attention of the Gazette, but that of media outlets across the nation. Seventeen senior members of the team were suspended after the discovery that first-year players were subjected to hazing as part of a “rookie initiation ritual,” inevitably forcing the team to forfeit the rest of their season.
Now that the women have been granted the privilege to compete again, it doesn’t seem like much has changed. That is, based on the standings at least. The Tigers sit in the basement of Atlantic University Sport (AUS) with a 5-13-3 record, with the next closest team being four points ahead of them with a game in hand.
This similarly resembles their record before their season was cut short. When the suspensions were handed out last January, the Tigers had a 2-11 record and were once again on the outside looking in on the playoff picture.
I called head coach Sean Fraser to discuss the impact their shortened season had on the team moving forward, but my calls were not returned. It’s clear that this team, and the university, are looking to put this dark period of varsity athletics at Dalhousie in the past. However, there is a distinct lack of transparency on their side. It’s almost as if they want to act like it never happened. Understandably so, but it should be a topic they are open to talking about, given the seriousness of the issue.
With only three games remaining, two of those against the first-ranked St. FX X-Women, the Tigers playoff chances are nearly non-existent and the season is shaping up to be another to forget.
I’m not here to solely harp on this team and completely count them out as a competitive team in years to come. There are evident areas of optimism for women’s hockey moving forward, with 15 of 26 players only in their first year and only a minimal loss of players next year. If all goes according to plan, by the time upcoming recruits are in the prime of their varsity careers, the Tigers will have a new rink to play in.
With the scandal, hopefully, far in the rearview mirror, the Tigers have no choice but to focus on developing their young squad and prove there is more to the team than controversy. Hopefully, once enough time has passed, discussing the issue will become easier for them.