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A look at the most anticipated Tigers games by team in 2021-2022

In issue one, the Dalhousie Gazette previewed this fall sports season, which included blurbs on each team’s home openers. Now, we look at some of the most anticipated games across Dalhousie University Tigers sport in the 2021-2022 season. 

This particular preview will cover many of Dal’s varsity teams, to an extent. By the time this hits the newsstands, the Atlantic University Sport (AUS) soccer regular season will be at its midpoint, so half of all soccer games aren’t accounted for here.  

Sports like track & field, cross country and swimming that host competitions are omitted based on the assumption that the AUS and/or U SPORTS championships are their most highly anticipated events. Yes, you could say that for the below sports too, but the team sports don’t hold the same guarantee of qualifying for championships like the competition-based sports. With that said, let’s dive in! 

Women’s soccer 

Oct. 24 @ Cape Breton University Capers 

These are both teams off to strong starts in the AUS season. Dal hasn’t lost through its first two weeks of play, honing in on a solid, defensively-backed style of play. Cape Breton also doesn’t allow many goals, but that’s probably because they’re too busy scoring them. Throughout their first three games, the Capers have scored a mind-blowing 16 goals, including seven in one game.  

When they finally meet in October, Dal will be in the toughest stretch of its season, facing the Saint Francis-Xavier University X-Women each week they play CBU. But with CBU and Dal playing like polar opposites, yet both contending for the top of the AUS, the Oct. 24 match in Sydney will be a fascinating one. 

Men’s soccer 

Oct. 22 @ StFX 

The Tigers’ match against the University of New Brunswick Reds on Sept. 10 was an entertaining one, as they gave one of the AUS’s top teams all they could handle in a 1-0 loss. They don’t play UNB again this regular season, but they do face the team that beat them: the StFX X-Men.  

StFX won all of their four games in the first two weeks of the season and like the women, the men’s Tigers close their season with two games each against StFX and Cape Breton. With this game being the first in a string of their toughest games of the year, Dal has a chance to make a statement and grab some important points in the playoff race. 

Men’s hockey 

Oct. 8 @ Acadia 

The Tigers have a challenging opening month schedule, facing top-tier AUS squads from UdeM and SMU. Then back-to-back home games against national powerhouse UNB. But the team’s trip to Acadia on the season’s first Friday will attract a lot of eyes. 

The reason for that, mainly, is a first look at young players on both sides who were brought in over the last two years. Some young guns played for each side in one exhibition game against each other in February 2021, a nail-biting 5-3 Acadia victory. Rookies stole the show in that game, and with so many this time around, expect more of the same this time around.  

Women’s hockey 

Oct. 6 vs StFX 

There’s no shortage of good games to open the season for the women’s hockey team. They face the two best teams from 2019-2020 in week one of the season, the X-Women on Oct. 6 and SMU on Oct. 8, both at the Halifax Forum.  

The SMU game will be highly anticipated for sure; Dal played well against them in the winter during a four-game exhibition series, proving they can hang around with one of the best squads in the conference. Now, the Tigers get to try their hand against the defending champions from StFX, in a game that’s bound to set the tone for the rest of the 2021-2022 season. 

Men’s volleyball 

Oct. 29 @ University de Montreal Carabins 

For the Tigers, the trip to Montreal itself is a highly-anticipated one. As members of the Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec (RSEQ), they (along with UNB) face Quebec’s U SPORTS teams and they haven’t been able to enjoy a trip with the team that far since early 2020.  

But the game itself will be significant too. The Carabins dominated the RSEQ in 2019-2020, with only one loss in 16 regular season games and none in the playoffs. As Dal is a retooling team looking for their first conference win since February 2019, their showdown against the RSEQ’s best early in the season will be a measuring stick of how far they’re coming along.  

Women’s volleyball 

Nov. 6 @ Acadia 

Dal’s game at SMU the following week will be fun, as they are cross-town rivals and playing a rematch of the 2020 AUS final. But there’s a level of intrigue about the Acadia matchup in the Tigers’ first road game of the season. 

The last time Dal travelled to Acadia in the regular season, on Feb. 10, 2020, was the last time Dal dropped a match to a conference opponent. They got revenge a week later, beating Acadia comfortably. But outside of exhibition scrimmages, the teams haven’t met since; SMU took out Acadia before the Dal final. A playoff meeting would have been interesting but since there wasn’t one, the Axewomen will be out to prove right away they can keep up with the powerhouse Tigers. 

Women’s basketball 

Nov. 27 vs Acadia 

Dal will have their hands full early in the season. They host the defending AUS champion UPEI Panthers on Nov. 5 and 6, which will for sure be a fun weekend of basketball.  

But Acadia is also a very strong and interesting team, falling just short of UPEI in the 2020 final. Plus this game for Dal, along with the team’s next meeting with the Axewomen in February, will be a four-point game. A win in AUS basketball is typically worth two points but since these two teams play twice instead of four times this regular season, each game between them will be worth double. For a Tigers team looking to crawl back into contention in the conference, an early high-stakes game against a thriving opponent will be a hard-fought battle. 

Men’s basketball 

Jan. 28 @ UNB 

While Dal faces plenty of stiff challenges in November and December 2021, they have to wait until the end of January 2022 to face fellow top-three AUS team, the UNB Reds, this season.  

UNB made an intriguing addition earlier in May 2021, adding veteran National Basketball League of Canada coach Joe Salerno. Salerno’s resume includes three coach of the year honours in the NBLC, a league championship in 2019 and serving as the head coach of Syria’s national men’s team. As an already powerful team, UNB is going to get a huge boost from the addition of Salerno, perhaps enough to challenge the Tigers for the AUS crown. The fun in this game is the hype we get to watch build up for three months before the two AUS titans square off closer to playoff time. 

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Luke Dyment

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