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Women’s hockey season preview

Hockey season might just be starting, but coach Lesley Jordan is already excited about how her team is shaping up. Jordan, who is going into her eighth year as head coach of the Dalhousie women’s hockey team, is hoping for great things in 2009-10. Finishing the pre-season with a 2-1 record, she has reason to be optimistic.

“We’ve shown we can be competitive in the league this year,” says Jordan.

After finishing fourth in their division last year, the coaching staff set out to strengthen their team during the off-season. Jordan feels they got what they wanted, and her team is now a more complete group.

“We’ve gained a lot of experience in some of our older players,” says Jordan. “We’ve also added some speed and skill with our first-year players.”

The team welcomes seven rookies for the 2009-10 season, with five forwards and two defence added to last year’s group. These first-years make the Tigers a much deeper team – exactly what Jordan wanted after last year’s campaign.

“That’s going to be the biggest thing up front, having that added depth,” says Jordan. “We can put anybody in any situation.”

Last year, the Tigers lost 4-1 in the AUS championship semi-finals to eventual winners Universite de Moncton. They will try to use that experience when they open up their season at home against the St. Thomas Tommies on Oct. 17. There might be some new faces on the ice that night, but the basic approach hasn’t changed one bit.

“We have the same sort of philosophy going into every year,” says Jordan. “Three things: we want them to play hard, play smart and play together.”

Helping the Tigers this year will be the experience of their head coach. Jordan is in Hockey Canada’s coaching pool and has benefited greatly from her time coaching at the National level. At both the U-18 and U-22 levels, Jordan has coached in a wide variety of roles. She has worked as both a goaltending coach and a video coach. Exposure to this elite level of hockey is something she feels has improved her coaching at Dalhousie.

“The players and coaches are top notch,” says Jordan. “You get to work with a wide variety of coaches and players so you get so many different points of view.”

The Tigers women’s hockey team will need all of that coaching expertise to do well in what looks to be a very competitive division this year. With all seven teams getting stronger during the summer months, the Tigers won’t have any easy games during their season.

The seven teams in the division will be playing for two berths into the National championship. There is an extra spot because it is being held at St. Francis Xavier this year, one of the AUS universities. This is guaranteed to be extra motivation for Jordan and her players and whatever happens, it should mean a very close race at the top of the league.

“Any of the seven right now are in the running for that other berth,” says Jordan.

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