By Kirk Jessome
With a pair of outstanding young goaltenders, the men’s hockey team was looking to once again make their way back into an AUS playoff spot for the 2019-20 season.
The duo of Connor Hicks and Reilly Pickard once again combined to lead the league in saves made during the regular season, doing a great job at keeping their team in each game.
Looking to increase the offensive output in front of them, veteran Jonathan Cyr led the Tigers in scoring with 18 points, while captains Colton Heffley and Andrew Shewfelt both ended the year with 17 points, including eight goals apiece.
A standout presence in the league, Connor Welsh once again showed that he was one of the best quarter-backing defencemen on the power play, finishing with three goals and 11 assists to finish 10th amongst AUS defencemen in his second season.
After starting the season strong with a win over UPEI, the Tigers went on a tough skid against highly ranked teams. Unlike in seasons past, the Tigers were able to find goals, but just couldn’t slow down the attack of their opponents to hang on to leads.
At the end of the first term, the Tigers went into the break with a 4-14 record, putting them in a tough spot for playoff qualification.
Picking up wins in the second half in key matchups, the Tigers kept themselves in the playoff conversation until late in the season with big contributions from Campbell Pickard and rookie Cameron Thompson, but it wasn’t enough.
The scoring contributions tapered off in the second half of the season, placing the Tigers seventh in the conference in goal differential, which Coach Donnelly says was a key factor.
“Improving our puck possession game will help us spend more time in the offensive zone, thus reducing the amount of puck time for our opposition. The conference is tough and until we begin to put up 100 goals a season, it will be difficult to move up in the standings.”
Finishing the year with an 8-19-3 record, the Tigers were unable to secure the final AUS playoff spot.
That offensive intensity will remain the focus for next season as Donnelly looks to continue to bring in scoring talent.
“We felt that our team created more offensive opportunities than we did the previous year and our goal totals were up over the past season as well. We will be placing an emphasis on offensive minded players again this recruiting cycle.”
With a strong presence in goal and a developing young roster, the Tigers will look to bounce back into playoff form in the 2020 season.