Please add Beata Elliott as the author
For the past four years, the Dalhousie University men’s hockey team has had a steady presence in net: goaltender Corbin Boes.
Boes graduated last year, which means the crease is wide-open for the upcoming season.
The netminder rose to elite status during his university hockey career, establishing himself as one of the best goalies in Canadian university men’s hockey. Last year, he led the team to its first playoff appearance in seven years, starting in every regular season game and making an incredible 866 saves, which is at least 175 more saves than any other goalie in the league.
This year, the team is faced with the difficult task of replacing him.
“Anytime you have a player who’s played four years for you, it’s always a big loss,” says Head Coach Chris Donnelly. “In Corbin’s case, he rose to an exceptional status within our league, and it’s very, very hard to fill that kind of a hole in the lineup.”
To start the 2018-19 season, the Tigers have three first-year students in net: Connor Hicks, Kevin Resop and Reilly Pickard. The coach plans to give each one the opportunity to prove himself during the season, hoping that might help ease them into the league as well as give the coaching team the chance to see what they have in each player.
“We’re not trying to create a competition amongst the three of them,” Donnelly says, “we just want them to all be at their best.”
Donnelly says that the Tigers have been talking to Connor Hicks since last November. The 21-year-old is coming off an excellent season with the Ottawa Junior Senators, in which he was named the Canadian Central Hockey League’s (CCHL) playoff MVP, after posting a .920 save percentage in 17 playoff games en route to the CCHL championship. The team also won the Fred Page Cup as the champions of the larger Canadian Junoir Hockey League. They lost in the semi-finals in the national RBC Cup to the eventual champions, the Chilliwack Chiefs.
Heading into his first season of university hockey, he knows the leap from Junior A will be significant.
“You’re going from playing with 16 to 20 year olds, to 21, to 25 year olds, so there is going to be an adjustment period, but I’m excited for the opportunity.”
Kevin Resop might be a familiar name to a few hockey fans in Halifax. The American played for the Halifax Mooseheads from 2014 to 2017. This last season with the Truro Bearcats was his most successful in Junior A, as he put up a .910 save percentage across 39 regular season games, and an impressive .940 save percentage in seven playoff games.
The third option in net is a last-minute addition to the team; Reilly Pickard has spent the last four seasons in the Quebec Major Junoir Hockey League, first with Acadie-Bathurst and then with Sherbrooke. Pickard is coming off a season in which he played 46 regular season games for two different teams, in addition to another 10 games during Sherbrooke’s trip to the second round of the playoffs. His save percentage was around .900.
All three goaltenders are eager for the preseason to start, but they’re also welcoming the opportunity to practice against older players before the regular season begins.
“Everyone’s bigger, skates faster, shoots harder, so it’s good to get the training camp underway and get some of the shots from these guys under our belt,” says Resop.
The men’s hockey team will start their season on Wednesday, September 26th at home against Acadia.