Tigers shoot for success

A season preview for men's and women's hockey

- October 19, 2007

Men's Hockey

Neil Smith of the Dal Tigers.(Nick Pearce photo)

Tom Zanoski scored a tie-breaking goal in overtime at the Halifax Forum, as the Tigers upset the much-hyped Huskies in exciting preseason exhibition play earlier this month.

The forward's on-ice performance was exactly the type of leadership that the Tiger's new coach is expecting from his 18 returning varsity players.

"The early wins against SMU and Acadia in the pre-season were wins of determination and hard work," says Coach Brad Crossley. "It's our goal to outwork each other and the competition and place among the top four teams in the league."

This season, which started with two narrow losses, offers a fresh start. It has been a roller coaster ride for the Tigers - starting with a bronze medal in 2004, when the fiercely competitive Atlantic University Hockey Conference swept the medals at nationals in Fredericton.

Fast forward to 2006, and the Tigers finished last in the league. "In short, these Tigers could barely beat up a thick ball of string," writes Adam Richardson in The Daily News. Still, there's reason for optimism since the team was showing promise in the second half of last season, says The Chronicle-Herald's Gordie Sutherland. (See: Beware of the Tigers.)

Chalk up some of the credit for early successes to the intensity of practice and some of it up to bench strength, says Coach Crossley, a former Dalhousie defenceman who has a stellar coaching record with the major midget league (not to mention, coaching Sidney Crosby.)

On the sked:

  • Saturday, Oct 20, 7 p.m. DAL @ STU 
  • Sunday, Oct. 21, 4 p.m.  DAL @ UPEI 
  • Friday, Oct. 26, 7 p.m.  UPEI @ DAL
  • Saturday, Oct. 27 7 p.m.  STU @ DAL  
"We have two of the top offensive lines in the league and two of the best defensive units that can also add some scoring. Our defense is big and mobile, with the right mix of attitude, offense and toughness," he says.

In fact, the defense will provide leadership for the team in more ways than one — Neil Smith, a commerce co-op student from Fonthill, Ontario, is the new team captain.

"Choosing a captain wasn't easy because of the veteran leadership we have, but we are very pleased to have Neil Smith as this year's team captain. He is a hard-working, honest, confident, energetic and well-spoken student athlete."

Assistant captains will include forwards Rob Dunphy, a psychology student from Halifax; Jimmy Cuddihy, a physics student from Aylmer, Que.; and Tyler Dyck, an engineering student from Calgary, Alta., who previously played in the inter-university league for St. FX.
"The assistant captains all lead by example and get respect naturally, on and off the ice," says Coach Crossley.

Goalies are Josh Disher, a management student from Burlington, Ont., and Matt Anthony, an engineering and sociology student from Wheatley, Ont. Mr. Crossley describes them as being "among the top in the AUS" and notes that either one can play anytime.

The management team remains largely the same, with the addition of Brian Melanson, a former all-star player, who joins Jaro Sevcik as assistant coach.

"Our staff will push these guys hard and have high expectations of accountability for them and their performance on the ice, in the classroom and around our community," he adds. "On top of that, our diehard fans and our student body deserve a winner on the ice."

Women's Hockey

The goal is nothing short of winning the Atlantic championship and making a strong showing at nationals for the Dalhousie women's hockey Tigers.

On the sked:

  • Saturday, Oct. 20, 2:30 p.m.  STU @ DAL 
  • Sunday, Oct. 21 2 p.m.  UPEI @ DAL 
  • Friday, Oct .26 3:30 p.m.  DAL @ UdeM 
  • Sunday, Oct. 28 1 p.m.  DAL @ UNB 
The rookie lineup is exciting, with the addition of several players with national Canada Games experience — Alyssa Hennigar, Robin Mullen and Robyn Nicholson.

"They have the ability to make an impact on our team right away," says Coach Lesley Jordan.

The competitive challenge will be to blend the skill set and commitment level among players who come from different backgrounds.

"We want to do our part at Dal to provide a hockey program that is both challenging and rewarding."

Goaltending is a particular strength, with the depth of three goalies who could easily be starters for any team in the league - Kristen Ladouceur, Mallory Harris and Emelie Ederfors.

Management changes include adding J.R. Letourneau — who has a wealth of experience at the national level - as an assistant coach.

"We are progressing in raising the profile of our sport here in Atlantic Canada and across the country," says Coach Jordan. 


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