Tommies endure poor opening weekend at GHC

(Matt Tidcombe/AQ)

Although the effort was certainly better than Friday night’s dismal performance, the outcome was no different.

The winless Dalhousie Tigers came into the Grant Harvey Centre and defeated the St. Thomas Tommies 5-2, leaving STU 0-4 on the season.

The biggest concern for the Tommies though is that they’ve only mustered five goals through four games.

“God knows,” Tommies head coach Troy Ryan said when asked about where offense is going to come from. “We don’t naturally have great offense so we have to find a way. We have to work harder.”

The Tommies started positively, as captain Felix Poulin’s shot was well saved by Dalhousie goalie Bobby Nadeau. The pass from Alexandre Leduc was a thing of beauty though, a toe drag around a defender, but Poulin was unable to bury the puck.

The Tigers would get on the board first though just before the half way mark of the first period as Daniel Bartek went glove side on Jonathan Groenheyde after the puck squirted out to him from the boards.

The Tommies had penalty trouble early on in the second period, and were ultimately paid for it when Jacob Johnston made it 2-0 on the powerplay. Groenheyde made the initial save, a slap shot from the blue line from Nick Croft, but Johnston was on hand to bury the loose puck. The Tommies would rack up 26 penalty minutes during the game.

Dalhousie would make it 3-0 five minutes later with a statement goal. Sebastien Bernier was crushed by a huge hit from Brendon MacDonald and the loose puck fell at the feet of Bartek who made a pass out to Kendall MacInnis, who would make a dandy of a spin pass across the crease to MacDonald who was waiting back door to make it 3-0.

“We’re in a slump anyway right now so when you’re that eighth, seventh, sixth placed team in the league and you’re in a slump, some bad hockey is going to be played,” Ryan said.

The Tommies came painfully close to getting on the board towards the end of the second period, but Nadeau robbed Poulin back door after the Tommies ran a set play on the powerplay. Ryan wasn’t discouraged by the miss, saying that eight times out of ten Poulin buries it, but with their offensive slump, it was one of those things.

However, it would take the Tigers only 25 seconds into the third period to make it 4-0 as Pierre Vandall scored on wrap around.
Down 4-0, the Tommies started to spring into life. Alex Labonte would get the Tommies on the board at the 3:19 mark. Defenseman Matthew Hobbs made a nice pass inside to the slot and Labonte unleashed a hard wrister that beat Nadeau. Marc-Andre Levesque got the other helper on the goal.

“When we started to compete tonight I thought we had some success offensively,” Ryan said.

His team would continue to make offensive strides. Mike Reich would get the Tommies second goal of the night after a beautiful play from Stephen Sanza. Poulin would dump the puck into the offensive zone, Sanza skated pass a Tigers defender, collected the puck, skated behind the net and centered it for Reich to bury.

Ryan admits the team is struggling right now, but he was encouraged by the third period.

“We’re going through some issues right now but I think the third period tonight, hopefully, some of the things start to change and hopefully some positives come from it.”

The Tommies continued to test Nadeau in the third, but the Tigers goalie stood tall. Patrick Daley would score an empty-netter to make it 5-2 with 25 seconds left.

After Friday night’s loss to Acadia, Ryan held a closed door meeting with his players to sort through some of the issues the team is having.

“There’s a lot of dotes being passed around. Doting some people are not competing hard enough, doting on probably not playing the right guys or playing in the right roles. So that’s what happens a lot of times when teams like ours aren’t doing well. So it’s easy to point fingers and place blame,” he said.

Ryan said positives came out of the meeting, but still wants to see a maximum effort from his players.

“Three quarters of our team probably played tonight, so what will happen when all of us play?”

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