Mooseheads play 3 home games at packed Forum

The Mooseheads played their three home games of the playoff season at the Halifax Forum because the Scotiabank Centre was being used. Fans said the atmosphere was nostalgic and lively.

The old time hockey feeling returned for some Mooseheads fans last week when the team played its three playoff home games at the Halifax Forum.

The team left its home at the Scotiabank Centre, with an 11,093 seating capacity, so the rink could be used for the 2015 Ford world men’s curling championship. The Mooseheads played at the north-end Forum, with a 5,600 seating capacity, where they won two out of their three games against the Shawinigan Cataractes.

While the team had no control over losing the Scotiabank Centre for the games, a spokesman for the Halifax Mooseheads said they did what they could to make accommodations.

Scott MacIntosh said the players loved the atmosphere of the Forum. “We were hoping to go on that old time hockey feel, and it really worked out well for us.”

Season ticket holders were let into the Forum earlier than general admission ticket holders so they could pick their seats first.

The doors to the Multipurpose Centre, the building attached to the Forum, were opened at 3:30 p.m., before the games started for those who had lined up early. The team offered free coffee and played a video with trivia and important Mooseheads hockey moments.

While some ticket holders didn’t attend because the games were held at the Forum, the stadium was packed all three nights, MacIntosh said.

Team banners were hung across the stadium and the logo was painted on the ice, reminding fans that this was a Mooseheads game.

At the Scotiabank Centre, seating is much more spread out and farther away from the ice than at the Forum. “You’re almost on top of the ice,” MacIntosh said about the Forum.

The size of the rink brought the players and the fans closer together. MacIntosh said the players had a lot of fun being a part of that atmosphere.

Mooseheads fan Lukas Macmillan was at the games with his father. “It was a lot more intimate and felt like a community hockey game rather than a corporate game,” he said.

Tim Feely said he’s been going to the games since the team first started playing 20 years ago. Feely lives in the north end and enjoyed being able to walk to the games last week with his wife.

“It’s old, it’s nostalgic,” he said. “It brings back a lot of the old school hockey stadium feeling. It’s noisy. You hear the puck, you hear the players.”

“It was a lot more personal,” Macmillan said. “It felt more intense. Plus, the crowd was right into it.”

Feely said that while the Scotiabank Centre is the better location, it would be a good idea to get the team out of the big arena and into somewhere smaller like the Forum a couple of times a year to remind fans and players of the old traditions of a hockey game.

“It’s just nice to revitalize the place every once in a while,” Feely said.

This was the third time the Mooseheads played at the Halifax Forum. There are seven games left in the playoffs, with the final game on April 21 in Moncton.

Players bounce at Bubble Soccer Halifax’s debut

An all-day tournament on Saturday marked the first appearance of bubble soccer in the Maritimes.

Bubble Soccer Halifax made its Maritime debut this weekend in the gym of Armbrae Academy. Fourteen teams suited up for a tournament that went all day Saturday.

The sound of squeaking sneakers and laughter filled the gym, along with the occasional thud of a teammate and their bubble bouncing off the ground.

Groups of 10 signed up for 40 minute games throughout the day. The groups were then split into two teams and each player squeezed into their respective bubble and began a bouncy game of indoor soccer.

Colleen Armstrong gathered a team of friends to play at the inaugural event. By the end of the second half, all players were sweaty and carefree.

“It was so much fun,” said Armstrong. “The best part is the first time you get hit. You just go flying through the air, and then you realize you’re not going to get hurt.”

“Well, not too badly,” added Dana Hodgins another player on Armstrong’s team.

Players ran around the gym bouncing off each other and the walls, stopping every once in a while for fresh air and rest.

Tim Tanner poses beside his bubble at the end of a fun game. (Photo: Caora McKenna).
Tim Tanner poses beside his bubble at the end of a fun game. (Photo: Caora McKenna).

Patrick Toupin — the man behind the bubbles — had seen videos on the Internet of people playing bubble soccer. Being a soccer player his whole life, he wanted a chance to play.

“It just seemed like a good fit for me,” said Toupin.

When he discovered there was nowhere in the Maritimes to play, he started researching different products. Last month he bought his own fleet of bubbles and started the small business: Bubble Soccer Halifax.

Toupin decided to start the business to compensate for the cost of the bubbles, which are $400 each. “If I can spread the game and maybe make a little on the side that would be great,” he said.

Marianne Parent, Toupin’s girlfriend, was unsure of the idea at first but let him run with it. “We’ll see how it goes,” she said. “So far I’m really impressed.”

Toupin’s background in engineering led him to research and buy the best quality bubbles for his small business. He could tell that the product was new because of the “material science behind it.” He said that “for it to be strong and clear and also not smell makes a big difference.”

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Even though the bubbles were clear plastic, Tim Tanner, another player on Armstrong’s team, still had difficulty seeing. However, he said that reduced visibility added to the fun.

“You’re kind of like a deer in headlights, but then you just get hit and bounce back,” said Tanner.

Toupin hopes to start up a summer league and rent out the bubbles for birthday parties and events.

As word of this new sport spreads, Bubble Soccer Halifax’s website and Facebook page remain the place to stay up to date on upcoming events.

King’s Cup raises questions about gender inequality

Out of 29 players at this year’s University of King’s College’s intramural hockey game, only six of them were women.

The 4th annual King’s Cup hockey game took place on Saturday, in a flurry of beer guzzling and joking rivalry, with the Bays defeating Alex Hall 4-1.

The King’s Cup is played by intramural sports teams, organized by residence building. Competitors play for the residence they lived in during their first year at the University of King’s College. The residences consist of Alexandra Hall, Radical Bay, Middle Bay, North Pole Bay, Chapel Bay and Cochran Bay.

Teams were evenly matched skill-wise, but there was a large gender gap on the ice. Out of 29 total players on the roster, only six women played in the game.

Gender inequality didn’t seem to be an issue at the King’s Cup, but it raised questions regarding gender inequality in sport.

Emily Gautreau, a fourth-year player and ringette coach with the Halifax Chebucto Ringette Association, played for Alex Hall this year and said her experience has been positive so far.

“There have always been a core group of us who’ve stuck together from the beginning, and these dudes are the greatest,” she said. “They respect me and the other ladies, and make sure the other guys do the same.”

The Bays pose for a photo after winning the King’s Cup. (Photo: Bronwen McKie)

Silas Brown, a fourth-year player and co-captain of the Bays team, said this year’s King’s Cup had the most female players since it started four years ago.

“We try and see every year, for King’s Cup, how many girls we can get to come play,” said Brown. He added he doesn’t know why more women aren’t playing in the King’s Cup.

“Obviously, not as many girls play hockey as boys do,” he said. “We do go to a liberal arts university. There’s probably not that many people who are athletically oriented.”

While the King’s intramural team is welcoming, Gautreau said overall respect for women in sports is a prevalent problem. Women should have equal access to resources in sports associations, such as ice time, she said.

“This is particularly noticeable when leagues don’t support teams at the rec levels as much as they do at the competitive [level],” she said.

“I think it’s still an issue that a lot of sports are still kind of considered men’s sports,” said Brown. “I don’t know if women’s leagues are helping to change or enforce that stigma.”

A 2010 report states gender inequality in sport is still widespread, especially within the coaching sphere. Gautreau said this is something she has experienced herself.

Gautreau said two experienced male coaches mentored her this ringette season, boosting her credibility and also parents’ respect for her.

“I got so lucky this season and my head coaches are wonderful, supportive, respectful guys. But, I shouldn’t have to be lucky,” she said. “I shouldn’t have to worry about how I’ll be treated because of my gender.

“I don’t really have a solution, but I do believe that talking about it is the only way to deal with it,” she added.

In the meantime, Gautreau will continue to play with the King’s intramural team.

“I haven’t stopped yet and will only stop when I graduate.”

Dodge, duck and donate for humanities

University students compete in first annual dodgeball tournament to raise money for Halifax Humanities.

University students from across the city competed in the first annual Dodgeball Tournament for Halifax Humanities at the University of King’s College gym on Saturday.

Eight teams signed up for the fun event. Players wore costumes and there were prizes for the first place and best-dressed teams.  The admission fee was $10 admission per person.

Organizers said all of the money was going to the Halifax Humanities Society, a local group that provides free humanities courses to low-income adults.

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Program director Mary Lu Roffey-Redden said Halifax Humanities began 10 years ago. It was created by a small group of King’s professors and several others, and now includes approximately 60 professors from eight universities throughout Nova Scotia. Every year it graduates between 14 to 25 people.

Roffey-Redden said all books and reading materials are supplied free of charge, along with free bus transportation, refreshments and child care. The professors donate their time and teach three or four classes each during the eight-month program.

Participants must be 17 or older. They must be able to read at a high school level and have a low income.

“Every year we have a very diverse group of people join us, eager and ready to learn,” said Roffey-Redden.

The society just introduced another class called Halifax Humanities Seminar for students who have graduated Halifax Humanities 101 and want to continue learning.

‘A lot of fun’

The charity tournament held at King’s was open to people of all ages and skill levels, but the majority of participants included students from Dalhousie University, Saint Mary’s University and King’s.

Joseph Fish and Alex Rose, two tournament organizers, said about 50 people came out to support the cause. Rose said he believes the tournament raised more than $500, though the final numbers are not in.

Team Shaqtin' A Fool bring home first place. (Photo: Maddie Johnson)
Team Shaqtin’ A Fool bring home first place. (Photo: Maddie Johnson)

“It was a lot of fun and went as well as I could have hoped,” said Rose. “The atmosphere was amazing and I can’t wait to do it again next year.”

The final showdown occurred at 4:00 p.m. between teams Shaqtin’ A Fool and the Varsity Badminton Team. Both teams were evenly matched and after a long, back-and-forth game Kevin Cox sniped a perfect shot, taking out the final player on the Varsity Badminton Team and bringing Shaqtin’ A Fool to victory.

Rose and Fish are interested in holding another tournament next year so it becomes an annual event.

What you should know before running in the winter

Five tips all runners, new or experienced, should follow before braving the cold and dangerous weather of the winter months.

 

While some Halifax citizens are complaining about the icy sidewalks, many runners maintain their physical activity despite sidewalk conditions.

For some runners, the winter months become daunting. They turn to crowded gyms and at home workouts in order to continue staying in shape during the winter. However, while snow and ice pose a threat to running outside, it is still possible to tackle those obstacles without changing your routine to fit the weather.

1. Running for beginners

According to Running Room, someone who is new to running should start slow. The first few times they go outside they should start by fast-walking. This allows for the new runner to build up their endurance.

Instead of going out and running as fast as you can for as long as you can, which could result in injury if the runner pushes themselves too far, it is much safer to start slow.

The best thing to do is to gradually increase the ratio of walking to running each time. It is best to start by walking for two minutes and running for one minute, then the next day, walk two minutes and run two minutes – always increasing the time and distance.

According to Andrew Moser, a student at the University of King’s College and avid runner all year around, joggers should also do specific exercises to increase the strength in your ankles.

Moser’s mother is a physiotherapist who taught him most of what he knows about muscles and how they help with running – especially on slippery and icy sidewalks.

“She would always talk about stabilizers, which are basically muscles that do the correcting for you when you are trying to balance [on the ice],” says Moser. “Already being a good runner helps, but you can start on the treadmill, or do simple balancing exercises like standing on one foot to strengthen your ankles.”

2. Thinking about tackling the ice?

After training to become a stronger runner and building up endurance, runners might be tempted to run outside all year around. However, before doing so, the runner must know a few tips for making sure they do not fall on the ice.

According to Moser, anyone who is planning to run during the winter months should:

  1. Pay attention to where you are running. If you see any shiny patches, chances are it is ice and you should slow down and shorten your stride.
  2. When turning corners, you should also slow down and shorten your stride so that you do not lose your balance.

According to Running Room runners may also feel soreness after running in the snow and ice. This is because your stabilizers are working harder to keep you from slipping.

3. Clothing

Moser thinks that there is a lot of value in getting athletic gear that is more expensive because it will last a few years, and you know what you are buying is good quality. He recognizes that not everyone can afford to spend hundreds of dollars on running gear, and suggests that anyone can buy leggings or sweat pants from Winners.

Moser also acknowledges that it is best for new runners who are not sure how much they will be running, or if they will stick with it, to look for cheaper versions of athletic clothing at places like Winners. As they become more committed, it can be justified to spend more money on longer lasting gear.

Running Room suggests that runners who will be running in the colder months cover up any exposed skin like: your neck, hands, faces and heads. You can do this with scarves, hats, gloves and ski-masks.

Running Room also suggests that, because days in the winter months are shorter and it gets dark much faster, a runner should make sure that they wear bright clothing or running gear with reflective stripes so that drivers will be able to see them in the dark.

4. Tips for running in the cold

According to Running Competitor, it is best to start off your run by running into the wind, then half way through the run you should switch it up and run with the wind at your back. Running Competitor explains that if you run with the wind at your back first, you will work up a sweat. Then when you change direction, the cold wind against your face will cause sweat to freeze.

Running Competitor also suggests that runners use Vaseline on any exposed skin that cannot be covered. Vaseline has waterproof and windproof properties that will protect your skin from frostbite

They also stress the importance on keeping hydrated during and after a run because you sweat just as much while running in the winter as you do in the warmer months – even if it does not feel that way.

Moser also suggests that any runner, experienced or new, should definitely take it easy on hills. Although the hills make for a great workout, they can become very dangerous during the winter months when they are covered in ice, snow or slush. He says that it is better to run slow and keep your balance, than to run fast and hurt yourself.

5. Alternatives

Moser says his girlfriend is starting to get into running as well, but she’s not experienced enough to go out and tackle the snow, ice and slush that covers the ground. Instead, during the winter months, she likes to go on Youtube and look up workout videos which are posted by fitness gurus.

Some alternatives to running in the winter are:

  1. Going to the gym
  2. Walking
  3. Yoga/ Hot Yoga
  4. Fitness classes
  5. Online workout videos

Defending champion Golden Bears knock out St. Francis Xavier X-Men

The StFX X-Men lost to the #1 seed Alberta Golden Bears at the CIS University Cup.

The Alberta Golden Bears made their presence known in their first game at the CIS University Cup Friday night by dominating the host StFX X-Men 5-1. Alberta’s offensive flair was overpowering; the X-Men found themselves hemmed in the defensive zone for the majority of the game. The shots were 34-14 in favour of Alberta.

Courtesy of a sea of blue and white from hometown Xaverian supporters, the X-Men got off to a lively start. Senior forward Michael Kirkpatrick capitalized off of a fallen defender, and found Blake Gal driving the net to open the scoring at 7:54 in the first period.

But with two minutes remaining in the first period, Alberta forward Jordan Hickmott displayed a dazzling individual effort and beat X-Men goalie Drew Owsley below the blocker for a shorthanded goal.

Hickmott’s goal served as a momentum shift for Alberta, as they went on to dominate the remainder of the game.

At 1:18 into the second period, Alberta forward Brennan Yadlowski redirected a shot from Jamie Crooks to give Alberta the lead.

The Golden Bears were relentless on the attack, and continued to smother the X-Men defence. After a spirited forecheck, Alberta’s Travis Toomey found the back of the net at 15:27 in the second period to add to the lead. Stephane Legault and Jesse Craige added assists on the play.

Tension began to brew between the two clubs during the final seconds of the second period. After a hard net drive by Alberta’s Jevko Koper, graduating X-Men and team captain Robert Slaney crosschecked Koper ensuing a scrum in front of the StFX net. Alberta’s Johnny Lazo mixed it up with X-Men defencemen Trey Lewis resulting in both players being sent to the penalty box.

At the opening of the third period, Alberta’s Dylan Bredo circled the offensive zone to find team captain Kruise Reddick alone in front to blast home a one-timer to make it 4-1.

The X-Men were tenacious on the puck throughout the dying minutes of the game, but at 12:08 CIS first-team all-star T.J Foster deflated the X-Men after beating Drew Owsley blocker side on a two-on-one.

The 8th seed X-Men are eliminated from the CIS University Cup after falling to the 1st seed Alberta Golden Bears 5-1.

An estimated 5000 were in attendance to watch StFX take on Alberta in the CIS University Cup quarter-final. Photo by Connor Currie
An estimated 5000 were in attendance to watch StFX take on Alberta in the CIS University Cup quarter-final. (Photo: by Connor Currie)

 

X-Women close out Tigers in dramatic finish

StFX X-Women move onto the Subway AUS hockey final after sweeping the Dalhousie Tigers.

The StFX X-Women ended the Dalhousie Tigers’s season Thursday night with a 3-1 win at the Halifax Forum. The X-Women won the Subway AUS best-of-three semi-final series 2-0.

StFX senior forward Alexa Normore jammed in a rebound past Tigers goaltender Jessica Severyns to open the scoring at 6:29 into the first period. Heather Tillsley and Schyler Campbell tallied assists on the play.

It wasn’t long before Dalhousie’s Lisa MacLean answered back with a blistering slap-shot that beat the league-leading goaltender Sojung Shin.

The X-Women controlled the play for the majority of the second period. League-leading scorer Normore was tenacious on the puck and overpowered many of Dalhousie’s defensemen.

“She is a great player,” said Tigers defencemen Rachel Carr.

“She was hard to contain all night. Her and her line-mate Schyler Campbell work very well together. They are two special players.”

In the second period, after an onslaught of shots and minutes of the Tigers being hemmed in their own end, Sarah Bujold sent Daley Oddy in on a partial breakaway, where she displayed a dazzling set of hands and tucked in a slick backhand past Jessica Severyns.

The X-Women led 2-1 heading into the final minutes of the third period.

In desperation, Tigers coach Sean Casey pulled Severyns in an attempt to tie it up.

But the X-Women’s size and strength prevailed, and with 47 seconds left in the game, senior forward Kara Power out hustled the Tigers’s defence and buried the puck into the open net to solidify the lead.

The X-Women edged the Tigers 3-1.

Shots on goal were 31-25 in favour of the X-Women.

Despite sweeping the series, StFX coach Ben Berthiaume was glad it was over.

“Dalhousie was relentless,” said Berthiaume.

“They were a very hard working team. It was a tough series.”

The X-Women will go on to play Moncton in the Subway AUS championship.

Lisa MacLean battles for puck possession after a face-off. (Photo: Connor Currie)

Driving change through sport

Can a soccer ball change lives? The players and organizers behind Halifax Street Soccer think so.

By Brooke Oliver

Cultivating a new community for the less fortunate through sport. (Brooke Oliver/Peninsula News)

Valentin Mocanu and Lucas Goltz believe that a ball can change the world.

Mocanu, a Dalhousie University medical school student, and Goltz, who works in social support services, met upon moving to Halifax three years ago.

The two began discussing their passions for helping people of marginalized backgrounds, learning that they had both done work on Vancouver’s downtown Eastside.

“We decided that there wasn’t a lot of non-profit work in respect to this kind of community development involving sport,” explains Mocanu.

And thus, Halifax Street Soccer was born.

Part of a bigger picture

The Halifax chapter is a branch of a larger organization, Canada Street Soccer, and is the only group of its kind east of Montreal.

Their target group is anyone who has struggled with housing issues, income, lack of food, addiction, poor family upbringings and so forth.

The group usually sees upwards of 30 individuals come out each Sunday evening. They encourage anyone to drop by and play, free of charge. They have welcomed people from all walks of life including university students, professionals, and even ex-professional soccer players to join in with their regulars.

However, it is more than just sport.

“We use a very multidisciplinary approach. We have social workers, we have nurses, and Lucas has worked in homeless shelters. We work very inter-collaboratively to target a lot of things,” says Mocanu.

Johnny, who proudly shows off his bright green indoor soccer shoes, is one of the original players. He did not share his surname.

“For a long time, when I was in school, I got hit in the gut with a ball, so it knocked the air out of me, and that was the end of me playing that game,” he says with a laugh.

‘I’m abused in the net,’ Johnny says with a laugh. (Brooke Oliver/Peninsula News)

Though he was rusty in the beginning, Johnny has improved a great deal and played his first game against another team last year. He says he has met many of his greatest friends through soccer.

“We really try to make this a family and much like any family reunion, if you miss one week or a couple of weeks, which I’ve been unfortunate to do that last couple months because of exams, you really feel like you’re missing out. It’s just great coming back and seeing the respect and I love that everyone comes back to you,” says Mocanu.

Looking to the future

After sending their first athlete to the Homeless World Cup in Mexico last year, Mocanu, Goltz and the players are all excited about what is in store for Halifax Street Soccer.

The directors are interested in expanding beyond the current organization, and starting a league.

However, in the coming weeks they are all excited to simply move their Sunday night practices outside as nicer weather approaches.

SMU Huskies upset UNB Varsity Reds to advance to AUS men’s hockey final

The Saint Mary’s Huskies completed their upset of the heavily favoured University of New Brunswick Varsity Sunday night at the Halifax Forum with a 1-0 win.

By Matthew Scrimshaw

Battle for the puck 1
SMU defenceman Mitchell Maynard (left) battles a UNB player for the puck during Sunday night’s 1-0 win.

The Saint Mary’s Huskies completed their upset of the heavily-favoured University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds Sunday night at the Halifax Forum with a 1-0 win.

In a tight checking affair witnessed by an announced crowd of over 1,700, the Huskies advanced to the 2014 Subway Atlantic University Sport men’s hockey championship thanks to an early third period goal by Stephen Gillard and the stellar goaltending of Anthony Peters.

With their victory, Saint Mary’s has eliminated UNB from the AUS playoffs.

A tale of two seasons

The AUS conference-leading Varsity Reds entered the playoffs with a sparkling record of 24-3, having won all four of their regular season match-ups against the Huskies.  Their No. 1 ranking in the Atlantic conference ensured them of a first-round bye into the semifinal.

The fifth-seeded Huskies meanwhile limped into the playoffs with a record of 14-14, and had to get past the University of Prince Edward Island Panthers in the first round.

They also had to overcome memories of last year’s heartbreaking losses to UNB in both the AUS and Canadian Interuniversity Sport finals.

According to longtime Huskies head coach Trevor Stienburg, the team’s confidence never wavered during a trying season.

“We finished .500 and it was a frustrating year, but the guys kept the faith.  They didn’t get frustrated and kept their confidence.”

Peters shuts down high-powered offence

The Varsity Reds, boasting two of the league’s top four scoring leaders, entered the game eager to reassert their regular season dominance.  They controlled the game through the first two periods, but were continually stymied by Huskies goaltender Anthony Peters.

Peters thwarted Reds forward, Phillippe Maillet, on a two-on-one at the 6:31 mark of the opening period with a smart glove save, and made several stops through traffic as the Huskies killed off Gerrad Grant’s tripping penalty early in the second.

Stienburg, the three-time CIS Coach of the Year, praised the performance of Peters, but was quick to give credit to his entire team.

“We’re proud of him and he’s getting the attention he deserves because he’s playing that well.  At the same time, I think all the guys have stepped up, and made a conscious decision defensively to block shots and keep teams on the outside.”

The excellent play of Peters was matched early on by that of Reds backup goaltender Joel Vienneau, who got the nod in place of regular starter Charles Lavigne.

Though not tested as often, Vienneau made several key saves to preserve the early scoreless tie.  He made a sliding stop off a Steven MacAulay one-timer late in the first period, and turned away a second period shorthanded breakaway by Ryan Hillier with a terrific glove save. He also stopped a penalty shot awarded to Huskies captain Lucas Bloodoff in the waning moments of the third period to keep UNB’s hopes alive.

UNB head coach Gardiner MacDougall defended his decision to start Vienneau, pointing to his performance and previously unbeaten record.

“We just thought maybe it was an opportunity for Joel, and he played outstanding last night and gave us every chance to win.”

Bloodoff’s leadership

Saint Mary’s broke the deadlock early in the third period, after a failed clearing attempt, by UNB, was intercepted by the Huskies’ bruising six-foot-two, 230-pound forward Bloodoff.

Bloodoff circled around the UNB net before sliding a pass to an uncovered Stephen Gillard, who threaded a shot through a crowd of players in front of the goal and past Vienneau.

The assist capped a remarkable two-game performance by Bloodoff, the 2012-13 CIS Senator Joseph A. Sullivan Player of the Year recipient.  He also scored the double-overtime game-winning goal in Game 3 of the series.

Stienburg insisted that Bloodoff’s impact extended beyond the scoreboard.

“Bloody is not necessarily a natural goal scorer, but he’s a natural leader.  Let’s just say that he’s not healthy, so it’s even more inspiring to see what he’s done.”

Stienburg added that Bloodoff played in last year’s playoffs with a unprotected fractured hand, and was suffering from a similar injury this year.

“It’s almost like he doesn’t feel pain, so I don’t know if he’s not that bright, or he’s just that tough.”

Saint Mary’s lead was nearly undone by two successive third period penalties that allowed UNB sustained pressure in the Huskies end.  Peters was forced into his biggest stop of the night during the power play, making a brilliant kick save on a slapshot wired by UNB defenceman Matt Petgrave.

UNB’s comeback would be cut short by a late penalty to captain Chris Culligan, who was given a 10-minute misconduct for checking from behind with only two minutes remaining in the game.

What’s next

MacDougall lamented the loss, but insisted his young team would be back in the running next year.

“We had some great veteran players that put in great careers here at UNB, brought in a lot of championships to our program, and left a great legacy for our program.  For the new guys, they didn’t get that chance yet, but it leaves something to look forward to for next season.”

Seeking their 14th AUS title, the Saint Mary’s Huskies move on to play the Acadia Axemen in a best 2-of-3 series to determine the Subway AUS men’s hockey championship beginning on Thursday.

 

Halifax masters skaters speed up

When the Halifax Regional Municipality announced in March 2011 that the Emera Oval would become a permanent fixture in the Halifax commons, coach Sheila McGinn knew that it would attract adults to the sport of speedskating.

By Emily Rendell-Watson

Masters speed skaters compete in the Skate the Commons event February 22-23. (Emily Rendell-Watson/Peninsula News)

When the Halifax Regional Municipality announced in March 2011 that the Emera Oval would become a permanent fixture in the Halifax Common, coach Sheila McGinn knew that it would attract adults to the sport of speedskating.

Although the oval was originally created for the Canada Winter Games in 2011, which is for athletes from ages 14 to 19, many masters skaters have taken up speed skating in the past three years. Masters skaters are 30 years and older.

McGinn says she was the only long-track speed skater in Halifax when the oval opened. This season, roughly 50 masters speedskaters have registered with the Nova Scotia Masters Speed Skating Club. Several more joined after the Skate the Commons event last weekend.

“[They] are mostly people who have gotten into speedskating recently,” says McGinn of the new masters skaters. She added that many people now see speedskating as the winter sport in Halifax.

McGinn started the club last spring as masters skating grew with the new oval. The club ran a “Get Ready for the Oval” program in the fall at the Centennial Arena before the oval opened for the season.

Sheila McGinn, coach of the Nova Scotia Masters Speed Skating Club. (Emily Rendell-Watson/Peninsula News)

 A missing generation

“I think of Nova Scotia as having a missing generation of speed skaters,” says McGinn.

“If you look at the big [skating] centres in Quebec, Ottawa and even Saskatoon, you see a sport organized and run by people who grew up in the sport.”

There are several competitions in Canada for masters speedskating, and an international series of marathon races. Last weekend, Quebec City hosted the Canadian Open Masters Championships for long-track speedskating. McGinn hopes that more masters will be able to compete at these competitions, and make Nova Scotia a stronger player nationally.

“They are really coming out of the woodwork. Every day I come out and coach I have people asking me for a demonstration and they get pretty excited,” says McGinn.

Many of the aspiring skaters are newcomers to Canada without basic skating skills.

Jennifer Watts, councillor for District 8 in the HRM, has also noticed more immigrants interested in speedskating.

“A couple weeks ago I was skating, and as I was taking off my skates I could recognize five different languages. [The oval] is an opportunity for integration across cultures. It’s offered them a consistent place where they can practice on a large piece of ice,” says Watts.

McGinn enjoys watching newcomers to the sport discover speedskating.

“When they get it, they really get it and they get excited and fall in love with it,” she says.

Valley Speed Skating Club

Steve Raftery is one of the skaters who fell in love with the sport.

Raftery, president and assistant coach of the Valley Speed Skating Club, discovered speedskating in January 2012 when there was an opportunity to try it at the oval. Raftery decided to start his own club in the Valley, after not even trying on a pair of speed skates for the first 50 years of his life.

There were seven members at first.  Now, a year later, there are 12.

“The oval was the spark that got our club started.” says Raftery, adding that the club now has members from Annapolis County to Wolfville. The club plans to use the oval for training and skating in the future.

Raferty says, “The oval has done a lot to boost awareness of masters speedskating in the province.”

Tineke van der Baaren is another newcomer to speedskating, though it was an experience earlier on in life that led her to lace up a pair of speed skates when the oval was introduced in Halifax.

Van der Baaren, a 50-year-old Dutch woman, first tried speedskating in 1988 at the Olympic Oval in Calgary. When van der Baaren returned home to Halifax, there was nowhere to practice long-track speedskating so she gave up on the idea.

Van der Baaren found out that there was a marathon happening on the oval, so she phoned a fellow cross-country skier and asked her to enter the marathon. They entered all three events of Skate the Commons in 2011: the five-kilometer, the ten-kilometer and the 25-kilometer.

A group of Masters speed skaters warm up on the Emera Oval prior to their practice. (Emily Rendell-Watson/Peninsula News)

“I just wanted to speedskate because of my [experience] in 1988,” says van der Baaren.

Van der Baaren learned the technique from watching younger skaters and videos on YouTube.

Buying the skates

After her experience racing on speed skates in the marathon, van der Baaren and her friend made a deal. Van der Baaren would buy her own pair of long-track speed skates if the oval became permanent.

When the oval was announced as staying, van der Baaren started travelling from the Valley to Halifax every Saturday morning to practice. Although she has improved her crossovers, she says there is still a lot to learn.

“The technique is really hard. It’s one of those 10,000-hour sports.”

Van der Baaren says she won’t be stopping anytime soon.

“I bought the skates.”

Critical Mass not for every cyclist

Hundreds of cyclists in Halifax will be riding as part of Critical Mass, a monthly cycling awareness event with participants around the world. But not everyone is so eager to start pedalling.

By Sean Young

Hundreds of cyclists will fill the streets of Halifax at the end of this month. They’ll be riding as part of Critical Mass, a monthly cycling awareness event with participants around the world. But not everyone is so eager to start pedalling.

Jamie Lamb is a mechanic and salesperson at Cyclesmith and President of Bicycle Nova Scotia.

“We like to call the event ‘Critical Ass,‘” he said.

“The concept of Critical Mass is that an overwhelmingly large number of riders congregate and effectively takes a commuter artery by storm — generally downtown during rush hour on a Friday — riding through traffic lights and putting cycling in the faces of drivers, law-breaking all the while,” said Lamb.

Matthew Harper doesn’t agree. He’s taken part in Critical Mass since 2007.

“Critical Mass is a chance for cyclists to let our presence be known,” he said.

“Most of the time we’re ignored or endangered on the streets, and if we need to assert ourselves to be seen, so be it.”

Lamb believes people shouldn’t be agressive when it comes to sharing the road. “To be honest, you really need to let it slide off your back.”

Lamb also believes that Bill 93, an amendment to the Motor Vehicle Act dating from 2010, has proven to be an effective protection of cyclists’ rights. According to the bill, if vehicles have to pass cyclists, they must give at least one metre of space.

According to Lamb, “In early 2013 we saw the first prosecution under that law, where a rider used their handlebar camera footage to prove that a truck towing a trailer passed within 6 inches.”

But Harper says he hasn’t seen the level of enforcement cyclists deserve. “Drivers still get away with so much because they’re agressive. They drive too fast to have to care what’s behind them. We have to be just as agressive.”

According to Lamb, it’s just a matter of getting the word out. “Advertising that law on buses or in the Coast would go far in making drivers understand that it is the law, not simply common courtesy.”

But despite their stances on Critical Mass, both cyclists look forward to spring riding.

“Some casual riding will be great too, whenever the snow finally melts,” says Harper.

“We’re certainly hoping to take off our jackets and get on our nice bikes and enjoy some salt free, warm roads,” says Lamb. 

Improving men’s hockey a must for Dalhousie

Rebuilding the Dalhousie men’s hockey team is proving to be more than a one year job for the team’s head coach.

By Sarah Mackey

Rebuilding the Dalhousie men’s hockey team is proving to be more than a one-year job for the team’s head coach.

After another losing season, and the upcoming loss of several veterans, the team is in a rut and Chris Donnelly knows it.

His cross country search for players is back on with seven of the 31 players graduating at the end of the season.

“I’m looking to find the best quality guys,” says Donnelly. “The most skilled players aren’t always the best fit for our team. Character can make a big difference in a hockey game.”

Donnelly says this is a good chance to get some new players on the team and more positive energy surrounding the organization.

“Every team goes through this. Losing those guys is challenging, but that’s part of the rebuilding process – it’s kind of fun. You never know what’s going to happen in September.”

Donnelly has been driving coast-to-coast to find Junior A players to join the Tigers.

He’s also trying to change the way the current players think about the game.

“We’ve been giving the guys more responsibility and clearly defined roles on the ice. They know if they’re on a goal scoring line or an offensive line or an energy line. That direction has translated into better hockey.”

Playoff blues

 

Two years ago, the the team made it to the playoffs for the first time in ten years. Players and fans alike were hoping that this signalled an improvement for the Tigers squad.

Unfortunately, there were multiple injuries in the first half of this season. The Tigers were left to scramble for a spot in the playoffs.

On January 26, the Tigers were a point behind the Université de Moncton – the team they had been chasing for the final playoff spot. Although the game ended with an overtime victory for Dalhousie, it also signified the second year in a row that the Tigers fell short of a playoff spot.

“It was a tough (game) because we have improved a lot over the last couple of years as a program,” graduating player Jacob Johnston told the Dalhousie Gazette.

Fan support

The dismal performance of the team means that fewer fans are heading out to the Forum to cheer them on.

Donnelly says this is something he and the players are working to change.

“Students can get in for free. I don’t see any reason for them not to come, especially if we start winning games. It’s part of the whole (university) experience.”

The team is organizing a food drive that will be led by the players as well as a competition to win season tickets for next year. Donnelly wants to make the team more involved in campus life.

He’s trying to make the hockey team something that contributes positively to Dalhousie. He recognizes that this starts with the team winning games.

“The goal is to leave the program in better shape than when I arrived.”