Men’s hockey misses playoffs for 11th time in 12 seasons
The hopes were high and the bar set low for a Dalhousie team featuring 11 new recruits. Everyone remembers, but wants to forget last season’s abysmal 3-24-1 record. After finishing dead last in the AUS, the Tigers could only get better.
Of course, this was at the beginning of the campaign and here we are at season’s end. And yet again, we know where the Tigers won’t be as they finished one spot out of the post-season. Missing by one place sounds like a decent season. Better luck next year, right? Until you consider the fact it’s an eight-team league and the top six make the playoffs.
So what happened?
Well, it’s crucial to show up and win the games you have to. The Tigers, however, weren’t able to get the job done when it mattered. Trailing UPEI with five games remaining, they suffered a narrow 3-1 loss to fourth-ranked St. FX. That loss, which may be considered respectable to some, put the weight of their season on the next two weekend games. Top-seeded UNB was going to be tough battle, but turning around the following night to play Moncton should have resulted in two points.
Instead, the Tigers didn’t bother to show up. They played like a beaten bunch. Down 7-1 after two periods of play to UNB was one thing, but getting crushed 10-3 by a very average Moncton squad is inexcusable. Over the two games Dalhousie got outshot 97-55, leaving little question as to why they lost. Goalies Corbin Boes and Wendell Vye were hung out to weather the storm during a power outage that officially left the Tigers in the dark come play-offs.
Realistically, the season doesn’t boil down to a few games. It’s a full 27-game season. Starting the year without even a point in their first five games put them well off the mark from the beginning. You can’t fall behind early in this league and try to play catch up for the remaining 22 games. The Tigers have won just two games each month for the entire season. This includes February since they have only two games left. Though at this rate, with the team riding a five-game losing streak, it doesn’t look like they’ll be claiming any points given their current form.
The Tigers put up a league worst 52 goals on the year and have more than double that against. Goaltending wasn’t the problem, though, with Boes being second in league saves with 556.
To make things worse, Dal has only three players on the top 50 scorers list. Not one player on the team averages a point a game and forward Fabian Walsh is their only double-digit goal scorer. So that means Walsh accounts for close to one-fifth of the team’s offensive output. The numbers don’t lie.
Obviously road games are more difficult than those at home, but winning on the road is what puts you in the playoffs. You would think the Tigers would get used to them, given the team doesn’t have their own arena. Sadly, road wins didn’t add up this year with the team’s dismal road record of 1-10. Their preseason road trip to face the University of Connecticut and the University of Massachusetts didn’t help their road woes either. Perhaps the money spent to make those games happen could have gone into building a better team. Funny enough, they’re 5-9 at “home” playing under the big “Home of the Huskies” sign at the Forum.
With close to $100,000 being put into the program every year, several questions of the team’s future arise. Is the money being spent properly? Or better yet, is it worth it? If you average out the funds over their six wins, every win is worth roughly $16,667.
Despite all of the problems they’ve faced, the Tigers still have two games left. They need to win both for pride and to start a fire for next season. They have improved since last season, but it’s a long way to the top.
And they’re only just beginning.
This article was written before the Tigers’ game against Saint Mary’s on Wednesday