The Concordia Stingers won versus the York Yeomen 5-3 at the four-team McGill Hockey tournament last Saturday, advancing them to Sunday’s finals.
The game sported a black eye when tempers flared to such an extreme that a York player rifled a slapshot towards the Concordia bench once the game was decided.
While the player denied any wrongdoing after the game, it could not have come at a worse time as it followed four York penalties.
The player received a match penalty for intent to injure, and this overshadowed the strong showing by the Stingers.
The name of the game was toughness, and Concordia used theirs wisely. Even though they were unable to make crisp passes or clear the puck from their own end in the early going, looking nervous and rusty.
They displayed steady improvement throughout the game, starting off slowly but exploding towards the end.
York scored a short-handed goal two minutes into the game, and the puck simply was not going the Stingers’ way.
Nothing exemplified this more than when goalie Philippe Ozga’s stick broke as he innocently flipped the puck to the referee after the whistle.
The Stingers got on the board and came out firing early in the second period when Andy Daris set up Yannick Noiseaux from behind the net. Daris paid the price, getting drilled into the boards, marking the beginning of the ruthless play to follow.
Penalties went back and forth like a tennis ball at Wimbledon, but neither team could capitalize on power plays.
The Stingers continued to get chances from in close and outside, but they consistently gave up odd-man rushes and always made one pass too many on power plays.
The teams traded goals halfway through the period and York continued to respond to Concordia pressure by taking penalties.
With the Concordia team up 3-2, Ozga was caught out of his net, locking the teams at three-all. The tie was soon forgotten when Davis got it right back seven seconds later, allowing the Stingers a 4-3 lead.
The topic of conversation after the game revolved around the over-aggressive play of the York team. The captain of the Yeomen actually cross-checked the referee at one point as he mindlessly attacked anything that was white and had a bee on it.
Many penalties were dished out for roughing after the whistle, the majority going against a frustrated York team.
While the Concordia players were focused on the victory, a fumed assistant coach Gord Donnelly questioned the other team’s character and integrity, especially the slapshot incident.
“There is no room for that in hockey, he almost hit our equipment manager, who could have been killed,” Donnelly fumed.
The Yeomen were outmatched this time around, and had the Stingers played the first three periods like the third, the game would have been theirs.
The Stingers didn’t bring their best game to the rink: the power play didn’t click, bad penalties were being taken and the goaltending was shaky at times, but the Stingers were only warming up for Sunday.