By Kirk Jessome
It was an important summer of recruiting for men’s hockey head coach Chris Donnelly. The end of last season left a lot of spots open for the upcoming season and Donnelly worked hard to fill them with not just talent, but with experience as well. The team may feature eight fresh faces, but each of them has an average of three years of major junior hockey under their belt.
The first additions were announced in June, when the Tigers added forward Jonathan Cyr and defenceman Evan Scott to the squad. Cyr finished sixth overall in scoring as part of the Central Canada Hockey League’s (CCHL) Hawkesbury Hawks. Donnelly is looking for Cyr to add an important offensive element that was missing last season, as the team finished last in the conference in scoring.
Also looking to increase the Tigers scoring this season is Reid Murphy, who is also coming from the CCHL. Donnelly credits Reid as a high-level offensive talent, who could develop into a premier player in the AUS conference.
Perhaps the biggest pickup of the off-season was the addition of two players from the Memorial Cup champion London Knights; Chandler Yakimowicz and former assistant captain, Aiden Jamieson. Yakimowicz was drafted by the St. Louis Blues in the 2014 NHL entry draft and played on the Under 18 US national team. His high-level of experience will help elevate the Tigers program. Jamieson was a high-scoring defenceman in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) and is a perfect fit to elevate the Tigers offensive ability on the back end.
“There is always an adjustment period for new players,” explains Donnelly. “We are hoping to improve our offensive ability, so we believe this recruiting class has the skill to enable us to develop into a better offensive team.”
Among the notable returning players is fourth-year goaltender, Corbin Boes. His season was cut short with a broken ankle last season, but he posted a 2.58 goals against average and a .933 save-percentage in 17 games played last season, putting him at the top of both statistical categories in the AUS conference. Boes season was good enough to earn him an invite to the Detroit Red Wings training camp last month.
“Having Corbin make a full recovery is a big piece of the puzzle,” adds Donnelly. “The experience he gained attending the Red Wings camp will only enhance his rehabilitation and increase his drive to pursue a pro opportunity when he graduates from Dalhousie.”
The Tigers will look to improve on last season’s performance after finishing with an 8-19-3 record, placing them at the bottom of the conference standings. Goal setting will be a key theme for the Tigers this season. “The goal is always to become a champion,” says Donnelly. “But to be successful, you must prepare and focus on your next game.”
They open the regular season this Friday, October 6 as the visiting at the Halifax Forum, when they take on their cross-town rivals, Saint Mary’s.
“We had a good start to last season,” Donnelly continued. “We want to start this season off on the right foot, beginning Friday night against Saint Mary’s.”
The Tigers will then have their home opener against Acadia the next day, also at the Halifax Forum.