The Stingers men’s hockey team fought for as long as they could, but were edged by the Ottawa Gee-Gees in the first round of the OUA-East playoffs. Despite winning game two of the best of three on the road, the Stingers lost both home games, including a marathon game three on Sunday that went into double overtime 3-2.
It was a sudden end to a Stinger team that ended the regular season six games above .500 and had outscored the Gee-Gees 16-10 in three regular season games.
“It’s always disappointing, it doesn’t matter how the game goes,” said defenceman Andrew Davis. “It doesn’t matter if you played the best game of your life.”
“It’s not the way I expected my season to finish. We battled hard, but not hard enough,” said captain Joey D’Amico.
After tying the series in Ottawa on Saturday, both teams squared off again Sunday afternoon at Ed Meagher Arena. Much like the first game, the Gee-Gees were more cohesive in the first period. Jeffrey Pont opened the scoring at 6:09. With Frederic Faucher in the box for cross-checking, Adam Vaughan jumped on a loose puck to give the Gee-Gees a two-goal advantage.
As they demonstrated all season, the Stingers refused to concede. The line of Faucher, D’Amico and Bruno Champagne came out flying in the second, but were unable to beat Ottawa goalie Martin Bricault, who made 28 stops in the victory. Eventually at 13:10 of the period, with the Stingers frantically scrambling in front of Bricault, D’Amico found the back of the net. The goal rejuvenated the exhausted Stingers, who played the day before, as well as the crowd of 850.
The Stingers continued their strong play in the third, but the effects of rolling only three lines were becoming visible. Still, the Stingers would not relent, and after Matt Chafe was hauled down with less than two minutes in regulation, the team was given a golden opportunity with a 6-on-4. The Stingers would save their best forechecking for the final moments, and a deceptive turnaround shot from Andrew Davis with 16 seconds remaining would send the game into overtime.
Netminder Patrick Lepage was tested frequently during the game, and kept the team alive through the first overtime period. “He gave us the opportunity to get back into the game and whenever you’re in this position with a rookie goaltender, that’s all you can ask for.” said head coach Kevin Figsby. “I’m looking forward to Pat Lepage doing the job again next year.”
Adam Vaughan scored the winner at 5:09 of the second overtime period to send his Gee-Gees to the next round.
“We got down early in the game, but we battled back hard,” said Figsby. “We had our guys putting their hearts out for the school.
When you get into overtime, anything can happen, and unfortunately it didn’t happen for us.”