The Concordia men’s hockey team began their 2002-2003 season with a tournament victory at the McGill Invitational last Sunday, beating the McGill Redmen 4-2.
The Stingers brought their A-game to the rink, combining an efficient power play with rock solid goaltending. Despite several Concordia penalties early in the game, the team disciplined itself in the final period.
Killing off those penalties turned out to be a crucial point in the game as McGill enjoyed a two-man advantage at 1:36 with the Stingers holding on to a one-goal lead.
The name of the game this time around was special teams as Concordia scored four goals on power plays and killed off nine penalties on their way to victory.
The Stingers started off on the right foot, and instead of giving up an early goal on the power play as they did against York the day before, they scored an early goal on the power play to put McGill on their heels.
The Redmen answered with a 4-on-4 goal of their own.
The referees were whistle-happy throughout the game, calling anything and everything.
Concordia scored on a 5-on-3 and finished off the period with a nice give and go between Sean Tilley and Luc Messier to go up 3-1.
McGill would get an early goal when their leading scorer from last season found himself in all alone on Ozga after a Stinger lost his footing, but Ozga shut the door from there, making one difficult save after another.
Stinger Philippe Parent scored the first two goals and teammate Messier sealed with the deal with the game winner and the insurance goal with fewer than two minutes remaining in the game.
Philippe Ozga did his best impression of a brick wall and stopped 30 shots to give himself the tournament’s all-star goaltender award.
Coach Kevin Figsby, entering his fourth year, attributed the win to forcing the opposing team into taking penalties and capitalizing on the power play.
Figsby went on to say the team has set lofty expectations for the upcoming season and that mentality played a part in this tournament victory.
“We want to get to the Queen’s Cup this year, that’s our goal,” Figsby said.
“We want to win our division and be the team that goes to the next level.”
Figsby didn’t forget about Ozga’s role when referring to the crucial 5-on-3 penalty kill.
“We are never 5-on-3 out there, we have Ozzie behind us and that makes it a 5-on-4,” he explained.
The Stingers missed the playoffs last year despite having a winning record (six of the 12 teams that made the playoffs had losing records).
The tournament victory improves the team’s national ranking and builds confidence, but it hasn’t won them any regular season games, which are set to start this Friday against UQTR.