Stingers forward Angela DiStasi is bringing a new energy that is helping the Stingers find success this season. Concordia is ranked third in Canada and will be making their first appearance in the National Championships since 2002.
DiStasi, who has two goals and six assists in 15 conference games this season, helps pump up her team according to head coach Les Lawton. She also has seen increased ice time from her rookie season, and is seeing time on the powerplay.
“She’s our fireplug out there. She has a great personality and is very, very skilled and we’re very happy with her progress in the two years she’s been with us.” Lawton said.
DiStasi, a Toronto native, said the losses during the past two years, especially the one she – and most of the team – experienced last year, are fresh in their minds. The team doesn’t want to watch another team celebrate a Quebec championship again.
“Even if we play McGill and we’re in [nationals],” said the Stinger sophomore before the result of the decisive game came in, “we’re going to take it seriously. We want to be on top of our game.”
The Stingers have avoided one thorn in their side, with help from their biggest rival, when the McGill Martlets defeated the defending QSSF champion Ottawa Gee-Gees 2 games to 1 in the QSSF semi-final this weekend.
The win propelled the Stingers into the National Championships since the Martlets have an automatic spot in the tournament as hosts.
The Stingers lost to the Gee-Gees in the final the previous two years, and are making their sixth appearance in the National Championship, and first since the 2001-2002 season. Concordia won the first two National Championships in 1998 and 1999.
Concordia is now looking at the conference championship as added momentum towards the Nationals.
Even though the Stingers have not lost a league game since Nov. 13, the attendance at their games has not grown. The buzz around the team has been loud, but hasn’t resulted in more students taking in the hockey action at Ed Meagher Arena.
DiStasi said that although the lack of fans doesn’t bother the team, “it would be nice if we had a large amount of fans supporting us. Hopefully with playoffs coming up against McGill and the team playing so well, we could create some excitement and get people to the arena.”
The Stingers have really come together since the Christmas break, and DiStasi says it hasn’t only affected results on the ice.
“The girls have really come together and we’re working really hard in practice, and there is definitely a lot of improvement, so we’re going to be ready for anything that comes our way,” said the Stingers forward.
DiStasi said that the one-and-a-half week layoff between games won’t hurt the team- they are practicing daily and playing exhibition games. Come Wednesday, the entire team will be pumped for the playoffs.
“We’re really working in practice on things we need to do, so that we come out strong. We had a couple of days off to relax, and now everyone is back and stronger than ever,” DiStasi said.
Up next for the Stingers is a three-game series against McGill for the QSSF Championship. While both teams have the Nationals in mind, no one can underestimate the battle of Montreal — especially with the Quebec conference title at stake.
The series will start Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. at the Ed Meagher Arena. The series continues Friday at the same time at the McConnell Arena and will conclude, if necessary, back at the Ed Meagher Arena Sunday at 4:30 p.m.
Concordia won the season series against the Martlets 4-1, beating the Martlets in the last game of the regular season, but losing their only game to their cross-town rivals 3-1 at McConnell Arena on Nov. 6. Since that date, the Stingers are 16-2-2, losing both a game to St. Francis Xavier on Nov. 13 and the final of the Theresa Humes Invitational Tournament to Wilfid Laurier on Jan. 9. A game that DiStasi said “could have gone either way.”
McGill moved up to fourth in Canada this week after their three-game win over the Gee-Gees and are currently riding a hot stretch of their own, winning seven games in a row before losing two straight to Concordia and Ottawa in game one of the QSSF semifinal.
Bubbling with energy, DiStasi and her teammates fully expect to make some noise against McGill and at Nationals. “We’re going all the way,” she said.