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This is the year

Dylan Matthias, Sports Editor

Is this the year?

Forgive the cliché, but we don’t quite mean it the way you think we do. Dal aren’t going to win AUS or CIS hockey honours this year.

The question is will this be the year Dal men’s hockey finally make the playoffs?

It’s been a long time coming, and that time has included many years of being nearly the worst university hockey team in Canada, and, in 2007-2008, statistically the worst in North America. But that has changed, and there’s reason to hope this season might be the year.

Last year, men’s hockey missed the postseason by one agonizing point, albeit one point they could have snatched in the final few games but failed to do so.

The Tigers were a far better team after January last year, especially when Buffalo Sabres’ draft-pick Ben Breault arrived from the QJMHL and started scoring immediately. They have consistent and deep goaltending with Bobby Nadeau and Josh Disher. This is a team that has enough pieces to get to the playoffs, now they need to have a consistent season. To help them do just that coach Belliveau made impressive additions to his squad over the summer including right-wing Pat Daley who lead the OHL’s Peterborough Petes last season with 28 goals and 73 points. Belliveau recruited additional fire-power in Pierre-Alexandre Vandall who lead the QMJHL’s Shawingan Cataractes in scoring last year with 31 goals and 75 points.

The women’s hockey team have one of the better university players in the conference in Jocelyn LeBlanc, but when she got hurt last year, the team struggled. Secondary scorers Rebecca Sweet and Fielding Montgomery need to be more consistent, and the rest of the group needs to be more healthy – the Tigers rarely iced a full roster down the stretch last year.

Rookie goalie Ashley Boutilier showed potential last year but didn’t quite grow into the starting spot she was offered. 8 of the Tigers 11 wins last year came at home which suggests that the team could be headed for a promising year if they can figure how to win on the road. The key will lie in the team’s ability to supplement LeBlanc, who accounted for 1 of every 4 Dalhousie goals last season; until the Tigers find a new way to put the puck in the net, so goes LeBlanc, so go the Tigers.

Dalhousie head coach Lesley Jordan was knocked out of the playoffs by her sister Liza, head coach of Saint Mary’s women’s hockey team. The two meet again on day two of the season, Oct. 17.

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