By: Kirk Jessome
Building off of their first playoff appearance in the last seven years last year, the Tigers men’s hockey team is ready to make a statement in the very strong AUS conference this season.
A big reason for last season’s success was senior goaltender Corbin Boes. Boes led the country in total saves made last year, and has now graduated from the program. The Tigers have brought in Connor Hicks to take over between the pipes this season. Hicks finished a very successful junior career in both the OHL and the CCHL, where he was named the league MVP with the Ottawa Jr. Senators. The Tigers will have three first-year goaltenders on the roster this season.
With last season’s leading scorers returning to the Tigers in Colton Heffley and Jackson Playfair, head coach Chris Donnelly was able to add some talent to the defensive end. The group added offensive-defenceman Connor Welsh over the summer, who has put up some big numbers from the blue-line in his junior career, including racking up 43 points in 68 games in 2015-16. Welsh should be a strong addition to the group of defencemen that also boasts Aiden Jamieson who’s point total was seventh amongst defencemen in the conference in his first season with the Tigers.
Also looking to help find the back of the net this year is Campbell Pickard, who finished up his junior years with the Truro Bearcats, earning 69 points in 50 games last season. Offence will be at a premium this season for the Tigers who finished at the bottom of the conference in total goals scored last season.
The Tigers had a strong group of younger players in their first or second year last season, and are looking to have a breakout year. Alex Pawelczyk finished second behind Heffley for the team-high in goals last season. Now in his third year, the group will need Pawelczyk to follow that up with another strong campaign.
Another player to watch this season will be Chandler Yakimowicz. In his first season with the Tigers, Yakimowicz finished the year with 11 points, but all five of his goals seemed to come at very key times, as either game-winning, or late-game goals.
The team finished with a 9-20-1 record on the season last year, leading to a playoff appearance. With the combination of off-season improvement and a fresh set of faces being added to the locker room, the group should be a presence in the toughest conference in the country.
The Tigers will open up their regular season campaign tonight, at the Halifax Forum against Acadia. Puck drop is 7:00pm.