Halifax, NS- University sport is coming back in Nova Scotia. The Dalhousie Tigers, Acadia Axemen/Axewomen, and St. Mary’s Huskies will begin a five-week exhibition schedule, starting with a men’s hockey game between SMU and Acadia on Friday evening.
The five-week winter exhibition schedule has the potential to include hockey, basketball, swimming and volleyball, all sports that had their season’s cancelled in Oct. 2020, when the AUS slashed all winter sports programming for the season.
AUS and Canada West teams played sporadic exhibition soccer matches in the fall, but this will be the first time since March 2020 that indoor university sport will take place. UBC, Trinity Western and Simon Fraser University had an exhibition men’s hockey tournament planned for Nov. 2020, but changing provincial health regulations cancelled it.
Also in 2020, the Alberta Golden Bears and Mount Royal Cougars planned to face the Hockey Canada World Junior Training Camp Team, but the games were cancelled after an outbreak at the Team Canada camp. It was later reported that MRU had an outbreak of their own.
“It’s very special that they’re now going to get a chance to be able to compete, even if it’s just a small number of games over a short period of time,” said Acadia Athletic Director Kevin Dickie to the CBC. “It really isn’t so much about winning now, it’s just about getting the chance to play the sport they love, and that means a lot.”
The St. FX X-Men/Women expected to be a part of the exhibition schedule, but the school administration blunted the athletic department’s hopes.
49 Sports’ AUS correspondent, Luke Dyment, reports that a basketball schedule is close to being published and that the Dalhousie program has already faced the ACAA’s King’s College team. Acadia’s men’s hockey team played an inter-squad game last week.
The SMU Huskies played in the last U SPORTS men’s hockey game back in March 2020, defeating the OUA champion Guelph Gryphons 5-1 in the U Cup quarterfinals. Later that evening, Hockey Canada cancelled all hockey activities from coast-to-coast-to-coast, cancelling the remainder of the tournament. Acadia were the hosts of the tournament but never got to drop the puck.
Although parents have been allowed to return to minor hockey games in the province, the university events will not allow any fans or spectators.
University athletic programs have independently scheduled the upcoming events, which U SPORTS or AUS are not sanctioning.
The opening game of the exhibition schedule between Acadia and SMU men’s hockey will be streamed on AUS TV at 7:00 pm local time, with coverage to follow on 49 Sports.
Extra: The Office
In a 2014 episode of the American TV sitcom, “The Office,” Michael Scott comes out of his office during a fire drill, exclaiming, “It’s happening! Everybody stay calm; it’s happening!” The excitement in his voice is similar to the feeling surrounding the return of Canadian university sport.