Luke Madill believes the men’s hockey team can be Dalhousie’s best team in seven years.
That’s because Madill, a fifth-year defenseman and captain of the team, believes the Tigers can get into the playoffs this year, something the team has not done since the 2010-2011 season seven years ago.
“I think the expectations are to build off what we did last year and be even stronger this year and make the payoffs and have a good run there,” said Madill.
The Tigers have shown hope of being a playoff team the past two seasons. In the 2015-2016 season, the Tigers were a .500 team past January 15th and missed the playoffs by 3 points. Last season they started off with 5 wins and seven losses up until Remembrance Day. After that they fell down the standings losing 15 games and winning three, but they still were only four points out of a playoff spot. This means if they can hover around .500 this year, the playoffs are a realistic possibility.
The team is young this year because they are bringing in nine recruits, with a few of them having a lot of success in major junior. First-year players Aiden Jamieson and Chandler Yakimowicz won the Memorial Cup with the London Knights in 2016. Forward Ryan Verbeek scored 42 points in his final junior season, and defenseman Duncan MacIntyre averaged around 20 points in his last three full seasons in the QMJHL.
Even with a young team. Madill believes consistency and having a competitive mindset is what the team needs in order to get into the playoffs.
“It is all about consistency,” said Madill. “It is a short season, 30 games compared to a usual junior season (68 games in Canadian major junior hockey) which is what most guys are used to, so it’s all about bringing that competitive hard working and physical attitude for every game and grinding teams down, doing what we can to make the playoffs.”
Dal did not have a good pre-season. They got outscored 15-0 in three games against St. Mary’s, University of New Brunswick and Acadia. The defense should sort itself out; the team finished fourth out of seven teams in goals against last year. They are also bringing back six defensemen along with the additions of Jamieson and MacIntyre.
It’s their offense that’s the problem. The team finished last in goals for and shots on goal last year. Plus, they lost two of their most dangerous forwards in Fabian Walsh to Carelton University and Philippe Gadoury to the East Coast Hockey League. Madill believes the offense will get going once the season starts.
“We have some young guys who have had some pretty successful junior careers, so I think they will be able to contribute right away, and then we got some returning players who do have a little bit of offensive touch,” said Madill.
The Tigers currently have a record of one win, three losses and one shootout loss.