Screaming fans, physical play and intense finishes- the QSSF Championship had great hockey moments in the best of three series won by the Concordia Stingers two games to one.
The Stingers won both games at the Ed Meagher Arena including a 2-1 thriller in the third and deciding game. The Stingers scored a power-play marker with 2:25 remaining in the third when Jodi Gosse put the puck behind a sprawling Kalie Townsend. The goal sent the home fans, the Stinger bench and the players on the ice into a complete frenzy as it clinched Concordia’s first conference championship since 2002.
The McGill Martlets were caught by referee Stephanie Normand with seven players on the ice and just over three minutes remaining. The call came just as the Martlets were pushing hard after Christine Hartnoll scored with five minutes remaining to tie the game at one, and were threatening to score the go-ahead goal.
The Stingers powerplay unit had one last chance to score before the game went into overtime, and they did just that. The play started when Marie-Helene DeBlois had her point shot blocked in front. The puck was picked up by Janie Brassard, who shot the puck towards the net. A scramble ensued with Dominique Rancour shooting, and the rebound getting to Gosse, a third year player, who scored the most important goal of her Stinger career.
“It’s been three years I’ve waited to pop that goal in,” said the elated Stinger assistant captain, a native of New Glasgow, N.S. “We couldn’t give up once they scored that goal to tie it, so I’m just really, really excited to get that one in.”
Rancour, who was held pointless in the two previous games, opened the scoring with a shorthanded goal five minutes into the second period. She capitalized on a turnover behind the McGill net and rifled the puck over the shoulder of Townsend. Rancour was also named to the QSSF first all-star team before the game.
“We worked hard all game.” Rancour said. “We didn’t give up once they scored that tying goal.”
From the opening goal, the crowd were at the edges of their seats and the physical play only heightened tensions.
The Stingers almost went up 2-0, but the referee ruled that the Roxanne Dupuis shot was tipped in by a high stick, and the goal was disallowed.
Concordia goaltender Cecilia Anderson, who was named QSSF Player of the Year for the regular season, was in form again Sunday night. She didn’t have to make many saves, only 17, but the saves she made were very important for the Stingers. In the final frame, with the Stingers holding on to a one-goal lead, the Martlets were trying hard for the equalizer, but the five-foot, 11-inch Anderson stood tall, making a big save on Kristin Leuszler with her right pad and making a huge save on a tip by Shauna Denis, that kept the result in favour of the Stingers.
“It was a pretty great day.” Anderson said in reference to winning the QSSF Championship and Player of the Year Sunday. “After they got that goal, I wasn’t really worried. I knew it would only be a matter of time until we scored another goal.”
Concordia head coach, Les Lawton, also won some hardware as he was named QSSF Coach of the year. Lawton said he wasn’t worried, even when the Martlets tied the game up.
“Although we only had a 1-0 lead, we felt we were in control of the game. We were really limiting their chances.” he said. “Cecilia [Anderson] was on, they got a break late, but then we got the break back. It is very satisfying, especially after the disappointments of the two previous years.”
For the past two years, the Stingers have lost to the Ottawa Gee-Gees in the QSSF championship.
Team captain Kelly Sudia was playing her final game at the Ed Meagher arena.
“It was good to win on home ice. It’s a good way to go out.”
This game was an indication of how serious the Stingers were taking the QSSF Championship, rather than simply looking ahead to the National Championships.
“We didn’t back door it.” Lawton said. “The pool is obviously going to be very important, and a high seed is much better.”
“We haven’t even looked at Nationals yet,” said Gosse. “Now that we have this behind us, we could start looking forward to next week.”
The Stingers are the third seed in the upcoming National Championship and their first game will be Friday at 4 p.m. against the loser of the game between sixth-seeded Manitoba and second seeded Wilfrid Laurier. The Stingers will play the winner of that game Saturday at the same time.
The entire championship will be held at McGill’s McConnell Arena. The gold medal game will be held Sunday at 4 p.m.