In her first year playing for the Dalhousie University Tigers women’s hockey team, Olivia Eustace has already cemented herself as a star player.
Despite being relatively new to the Tigers, Eustace has been doing a great job adapting to the team and Atlantic University Sport (AUS) play. She scored 17 points, including eight goals and nine assists, through 21 regular season games. That was good enough for ninth in league scoring.
“In the line I’ve been playing with, we have been matching well and we always play well together, so that’s definitely helped,” Eustace said. “And our line has put up a decent amount of points.”
Eustace has played hockey since she was five years old and decided she wanted to continue her career in hockey after high school. When choosing a school, the sport was a factor at play in her decision to attend Dalhousie.
This is her second year at Dal but with the COVID-19 pandemic, it was only possible for her to debut with the team last September.
“When I came in, I was 18 and some of the girls I was playing against were 23, 24. So there’s obviously that bigger age gap than in high school,” she said.
Eustace scored her first AUS goal in the first period of the regular season home opener on Oct. 6, against the Saint Francis Xavier University X-Women. That was also her team’s first goal of the year. Since then, she has remained an important component of the team, especially on offence.
The 2021-2022 season has been a tough one for the women’s hockey team, who finished the season with four wins and 17 losses.
But on March 5, the team bounced back from an eight-game losing streak, dating back to November 2021, with a 5-1 win over the St. Thomas University Tommies. Eustace scored two of the five goals for the team and assisted Abby Wamboldt on another. This was an important win, as it was their last game before playoffs began.
There are several challenges that come with joining the team as a new player, which Eustace has learned to deal with.
“There’s obviously a difference,” she added. “I find that, at the university level, it’s a lot faster, and the girls are obviously bigger and stronger. But once you start playing, I find it’s easier to adapt.”
Besides the changes on the ice, she trains five days a week and must keep up with the workload of classes. A lot of energy and organization is required in the student-athlete lifestyle, which Eustace has experienced first-hand for the first time this season.
“It’s stressful sometimes. There’s a lot of time commitment and managing your time,” she said. “I always try to plan my weeks and what I have to get done on Sundays, and plan it around my hockey training schedule. This allows it to be more flexible around my free time and to prioritize things.”
Besides Eustace’s own ability to adapt to the hectic schedule, her relationship with teammates has also been a big help.
“When I first came in last year, I was obviously nervous about what it would be like to meet new people in the team,” she said. “But all the older girls are super welcoming, so it was not hard at all.”
Eustace said that their team dynamic has been a contributing factor in her performance, their ability to work well together makes the games more fun, she said.
“It’s always nice when everyone likes working together and are sharing a common goal,” she said. “That’s probably the easiest way, because everyone just wants to win and do what is best for the team.”