The Dalhousie University women’s hockey team is preparing for their upcoming season where they will attempt to climb to the top of the Atlantic University Sport (AUS) division.
“We needed to learn to win, and do it consistently,” said Izzy Weist, a forward and team captain. “For a couple of years we haven’t been a team that was consistently winning. Once we started winning, we got a taste for it, and of course you always want to win.”
Dal placed fifth in the AUS last year, meeting the University of Prince Edward Island Panthers in the first round of the playoffs.
The Tigers were down in the series after a 1-0 loss in the first game but they battled back in a long game two that went all the way to second overtime. They ended victorious thanks to the heroics of Olivia Eustace, evening the series at one game a piece.
Dalhousie’s season would unfortunately come to an end in a win or go home game in Charlottetown when their inexperience began to show. The Tigers were shutout 3-0.
“That series really motivated us to want to be in a home playoff position,” Weist said. “If that series happens again, we want P.E.I. coming to us for two games. That pace of the playoffs… that experience is valuable.”
The title of captain also means a lot to Weist.
“[It’s] definitely a position I’ve grown into during my time at Dal, but I care [about it] more than anything,” said Weist. “The team energy in this group is incredible; one of the best teams I’ve been a part of. I love these girls, they bring it everyday, I am just honoured that I get to lead them and help this team succeed.”
Grace Beer, the starting goalie who was awarded to the all rookie team and second all-star team in the AUS, set the expectations for the nearing season.
“I’m expecting the same if not a lot better,” said Beer. “We’re hoping to make a longer run in the playoffs and hopefully make it to nationals this year.”
Despite her early success in her U Sports career, Beer wants to continue to rise to the occasion when called upon.
Beer thinks her early accolades were a “nice way to end off her first year,” but she knows it is not the end and wants to keep improving.
Natasha Falk, another second-year, believes she brought a different approach to the Tigers last season.
“I come from a program that expects winning,” Falk said. “So my recruiting class and I brought in a desire to win, not to say that didn’t matter a lot to my team.”
She added that the team worked together to build a winning mentality.
“We just built off of each other, and decided if we worked really hard we could be a team that was really tough to play against,” Falk said. “That really made a change, having a collective [mindset] that we were going to be the hardest team to play that we could possibly be.”
Falk has worked hard over the summer to get her individual game better as well.
“It’s nice because I’m in my second year now, so I will definitely have some more confidence,” Falk said. “The biggest thing that I am going to try to [do] is create offence for my team, by creating opportunities off the wall and shooting more because my shot is one of my biggest assets.”
The Tigers will begin their preseason by travelling across Robie Street to take on the Saint Mary’s University Huskies on Sept. 19.They will then open their regular season by welcoming Mount Allison University to the Halifax Forum, where they hope to achieve an even more successful season.