Women’s hockey playoff preview
The Dalhousie women’s hockey team is hoping Cinderella is on their side entering the AUS championships.
There was no doubt the ladies were going to make the playoffs with Saint Mary’s in the midst of a lacklustre season. The question entering the final weekend of regular season play, however, was where Dal would land in the standings.
Despite their best efforts, the Tigers ultimately could not claw their way past the sixth and final playoff spot. With St. Thomas’s surprising overtime victory over the Moncton Aigles Bleus Feb. 24, the outcome of the Tigers and Tommies game Feb. 26 was insignificant.
The Tigers began the AUS championship round-robin against the No. 1 seeded X-Women on Mar. 1.
With a three-game winning streak entering the playoffs, the Tigers are optimistic. Head coach Sean Fraser believes the ladies are ready for whatever comes their way.
“We have all the confidence in the world,” Fraser said. “We have to play hard and stick to our game plan.”
Elizabeth Matheson, the captain of the Tigers, feels that success is within reach if the team can overcome their tendency to get lazy and make sloppy passes.
“We need to stay focused for the whole 60 minutes,” she said. “It’s something that we haven’t done all season.”
For the Tigers to be successful, they are also going to need strong and consistent play from all-time team points leader Jocelyn Leblanc. Leblanc leads the team in goals with 23 on the season and is ranked fourth in the league with 35 points. She also had a season-ending hat trick in Dal’s shutout win over the Tommies Feb. 26.
Leblanc, though, wasn’t one to take credit for her team’s success.
“I contribute a lot of our success to my linemates Jenna (Currie) and Nichol (Robin Nicolson).” Leblanc said. “We’ve all been working together successfully, especially over the past weekend.”
A big question mark hanging over the Tigers this weekend is who will tend the crease. The red hot Zoe Zivolak has been seeing a lot of starts of late, including a shutout in the last game of the regular season, or rookie Brittany McMacken, who had the nod for the majority of games in the beginning of the season.
Also in the Tigers’ three-team round-robin pool in the playoffs with St. FX is the fourth-place UPEI Panthers. The season series between the opponents is knotted at two games apiece. Both of Dal’s losses to the Panthers came in overtime.
Fraser thinks that having this winning streak under their belt is going to be a confidence booster as they enter the AUS championships on home ice.
“(Right now), we’re all in a good place,” said Fraser. “We’re all very confident and we’ve been playing well as of late.”
Leblanc takes pride in their underdog role going into the playoffs.
“The league is so close this year,” Leblanc said. “I think any team can win on any given night.”
With all the talk of what the ladies can and can’t do to be successful, Fraser summed it up best.
“We just have to win three games.”