Concordia’s best line in the heartbreaking three-game series loss against the Ottawa Gee-Gees was their top line from a year ago: Dominique Rancour flanked by Janie Brassard and Jodi Gosse. It seemed as though they were playing like there was no tomorrow. For Rancour and Gosse, the Stingers captain, there wasn’t. It was the end of an era, and it all seemed to end too soon.
In the third and decisive game in the best of three series, the Stingers came out with their worst performance. After dominating the first game, and getting away with some mistakes in the second game, it didn’t seem as though there should have been a third game anyway. Concordia gave up an early goal in the first period and two early goals in the second period and that, as they say, was all she wrote.
In game one on Wednesday, it was a battle of the goaltenders between Concordia’s Maggy Hatin-Leveillee and Ottawa’s Melissa Di Petta. After a scoreless first period, the Stingers got a scare when 20 seconds into the second period, a Mandi Duhamel shot was tipped by Gee-Gee’s captain Sarah Balch, but the referee ruled that it was tipped with a high stick, and the goal was erased.
The game belonged to Di Petta. Shortly after the disallowed goal, Gosse and Brassard broke in on a 2-on-1 but the Gee-Gees goaltender made both stops. Hatin-Leveillee also made key saves to force the game into double overtime with a 0-0 score.
Then, just over two minutes into the second overtime, a Christine Allen wrist shot went off the midsection of Duhamel, and past Hatin-Leveillee who could not see the shot, which actually deflected up off of Duhamel’s body, and the Stingers who peppered Di Petta with an unofficial 49 shots, were held scoreless and unable to beat the star keeper.
“She seems to have our number for whatever reason,” said Lawton whose Stingers scored only twice on Di Petta in four previous games. “We’re doing things right, we’re creating traffic in front of her, we’re getting shots to the net, all things that we stress in practice,” Lawton said after the game one loss.
Back home on Friday, the Stingers did everything they could to avoid elimination and they succeeded.
With less than four minutes left in the opening period, the line of Brassard, Rancour and Gosse came together for the first Stinger goal of the series when Rancour took the puck in her own zone and fed a pass to Brassard who walked in all alone and put a forehanded shot past Di Petta. It was only the first strike for this trio, who finished game two an astonishing +5.
They struck again early in the second when Rancour walked into the slot from the right corner and fired one over the shoulder of Di Petta. Rancour, playing her last home game as a Stinger, had almost a carbon copy early in the third to put the Stingers up 3-0. Less than seven minutes later, Victoria Johnstone started and finished an end-to-end rush to put the Stingers up 4-0 and boot Di Petta from the net in favour of Megan Takeda. Rose Healy added an empty-net goal.
Ashley Powers had two goals that looked eerily similar in the third period, taking the puck after a face-off win by Shannon Aubut and firing a low slap shot past Hatin-Leveillee. The goals were scored less than two minutes apart and were Powers first two goals of the year, and only the second and third goals scored by an Ottawa blueliner this season.
The third and final game was as anticlimactic as can be with Duhamel scoring a goal 2:12 into the first period and 33 seconds into the second period. Kim Kerr, Ottawa’s leading scorer, put home her first goal of the series 2:54 into the second period to put Ottawa up 3-0 and with Takeda replacing Di Petta in goal, the Stingers were unable to put one by her on 22 shots.
“We probably lost the series in game one rather than [Sunday],” an obviously disappointed Lawton said after the game. “Ottawa was a better team then they were the previous two games and we had our worst performance of the series. We seemed to be out of synch today. Our heads weren’t there and we weren’t as focused as we should be,” he said.
“They didn’t score the nicest goals, and that really hurt us when they got the momentum,” he said.
It was a disappointing and emotional end to a CIS career for Gosse whose fifth season ended in the first round of the playoffs.
“I’m emotional right now. There isn’t much you can say to wrap up five years,” Gosse said. She was, as a captain always is, thinking about her team even after the final buzzer sounded on her CIS career.
“The girls are going to learn from this,” she said. “Hopefully they took enough from this experience to help them for the years to come.”
The 2005-06 QSSF All-stars were announced, and Concordia’s Dominique Rancour and Marie-Pier Cantin-Drouin were named first team all-stars. Ottawa’s Melissa Di Petta was voted to the first team as well, despite only playing four games, going 3-0-1.
Carleton’s Valerie Charbonneau, the busiest goaltender in the CIS, was named a second team all-star and rookie of the year. McGill’s Peter Smith took home Coach of the Year honors while Marlets forward Shauna Denis was named QSSF MVP.