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Tigers pursue playoff hunt

The Dalhousie University Tigers women’s hockey team is once again a playoff team. 

The team earned a playoff spot for the first time since 2018 with a 2-1 victory over the Saint Mary’s University Huskies on Jan. 25. The team sits in fifth place in the Atlantic University Sport (AUS) standings as of Jan. 26. 

The team has made a push in the second half of the season for a playoff berth as the Tigers prepare for the playoffs. The team is pursuing its first AUS title ever.

“We just need to keep growing and keep pushing. It’d be definitely amazing to win an AUS title and just keep growing as the years go on, especially being a first-year just being able to have a good step in the direction and keep growing from there,” said goaltender Grace Beer in an interview with the Dalhousie Gazette on Jan. 17.

With 11 wins and 27 points, the Tigers are closing in on the teams ahead of them in the final stretch of the season. It’s a shift from the last few years. While they did qualify for last year’s postseason, it was because of a modified schedule following COVID-19-related cancellations, rather than second-last place Dal’s performance.

“[The last few years] made it a little difficult and frustrating to improve,” said Brooklyn Paisley, the Tigers’ top scorer as of Jan. 26. Paisley and the rest of the Dalhousie team were unable to play full seasons over the past two years, with the 2020-2021 season being outright cancelled. 

However, the team made the best of a bad situation, developing the team and using practices during the schedule shutdown to build depth and character within the team. 

“I feel it has benefited me and also the entire team,” said Paisley. 

The Dalhousie Tigers women’s hockey team has earned an AUS playoff berth for the first time since 2018. A 2-1 victory on Jan. 26 over the Saint Mary’s Huskies sealed Dal’s playoff destiny. (Dalhousie Athletics)

Rookie goalie’s brilliance

A large part of the team’s success this year can be attributed to Beer, the Tiger’s rookie goaltending star from Oakville, Ont. She has appeared in 17 of the team’s 24 games, more than any other netminder in the conference. Beer has a save percentage of .921 and has made 464 saves this season, more than any other AUS goalie.

“It was hard coming in as a first year and getting a lot of starts as a freshman goalie,” said Beer. “But with the support and confidence from my team and my coaches, I’ve been able to settle into the league, make the saves that I needed and play my best when I need to.”

The Tigers have a large range of experience in their players. While Beer continues to shine in her rookie season, Paisley is looking back on her five years with the team as her time with the Tigers nears an end. 

“Being on a varsity team has made my university experience amazing,” said Paisley. “It made the transition of moving away from home so much easier.” 

Paisley’s Tigers swan song

Paisley came across the country to Halifax to attend Dal, a long way from her hometown of Shawnigan Lake, B.C., near Victoria.

“Being on a team allows you to be surrounded by a big support system which can be important during university,” said Paisley. “Also, having the connection to other athletes through the athletic department has been good. We have our own little community within Dal, which enhances the bonds and friendships we can make.” 

Being one of the few fourth-year athletes on the current roster naturally makes Paisley a leader on the team.

“It feels good to be leading the team in points as of right now, because I want to be a player that my teammates and coaches can rely on when they need to,” Paisley said. 

Beer said Paisley is a key player for the team as she displays her skills and great play on the ice. The Tigers could use those big plays come playoff time in less than a few weeks.

“Ever since my first time in the room, Brooklyn has been very welcoming,” Beer said. “She’s always putting her best foot forward and pushing everyone to be better on the ice.”

With files from Thomas Scott


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