By Kirk Jessome
With a veteran roster that has grown together over the past four seasons, the 2019-20 installment of the Tigers women’s hockey team was looking to make the playoff run they had been preparing for.
Led by the four-time AUS leader in saves made, Fabiana Petricca, the Tigers defensive core also boasted seniors Annika Rose, Lauren Ellerton, Abigail Shearer and AUS all-star Natalie Stanwood in front of her.
Up front, the scoring was led by sophomore Kennedy Whelan, who finished the season with eight goals and seven assists, while Danika Phillips added 10 points with five goals and five assists of her own. Stanwood and Ellerton had plenty of contributions from the point, finishing the year with nine and eight points respectively.
After dropping the first four games of the season, the Tigers got back on track with back-to-back home wins against Mount Allison and St. Thomas before adding another against Moncton.
The losing streak returned in the month of November, but again the Tigers rallied with two more wins against Moncton to end the first half of the season with a 5-13 record.
Despite the losing record, the Tigers were still in a fight for the final playoff spot that would come down to the final games of the season thanks to wins against key opponents. Unfortunately, the Tigers could only manage one win in the second half and fell short of the playoff mark by just four points.
Keeping the Tigers in each of those games was Petricca. When asked about the contributions of their graduating netminder, acting head coach Joe Johnston did not hold back his praise.
“We’re losing the best goalie Dalhousie has had in many, many years, and the backbone of our team,” says Johnston. “Had we been able to insulate her from the hundreds and hundreds of extra shots she faced, she would have led every goaltending stat category in the conference.”
Coach Johnston also commented on his other senior athletes that will be leaving the program and what they have meant over their careers.
“Besides the on-ice play, we lose veteran leadership, calm, and respect in all of our graduating seniors. They have seen some incredibly bright times, but also managed a young team through some very difficult times.”
With the large group of graduating seniors leaving the program, the Tigers women’s hockey team will have plenty of fresh faces next season to build toward the future.