Thirty minutes after the McGill Martlets eliminated the Concordia Stingers women’s hockey team in game two of their Quebec semi-final series on Feb. 22, Stinger players were scattered. Some were talking amongst themselves in the arena, others talking to friends and family in the lobby of the Loyola sports complex.
The ice was empty. The zamboni had not yet cleaned the ice, leaving it full of the post game snow.
Bianca Chartrand, one of the Stingers who had just played their final game made her way to the locker room for the final time. But she had an idea when looking at the ice.
“I went to the locker room and [goaltender Meggy Hatin-Leveillee] was sitting there and I asked her if she wanted to go on the ice,” Chartrand said.
“So we were putting on our skates and [defenceman Catherine Desjardins] came into the room and said ‘I want to go on, too!’ When we started going on the ice, some of the girls started running into the room to get their skates on.”
What broke out, through the heartbreak of their season ending, was one of the most spontaneous acts you’ll ever see at the Ed Meagher arena. Within minutes, the entire team was either participating or on the bench watching the impromptu game of shinny.
For Concordia’s graduating players it was, considering the circumstances, a perfect ending.
“I forgot about the loss,” Chartrand said about the spontaneity. “To forget about it and have fun with the girls on the ice . . . It was a nice way to end it.”
“I was in the lobby,” remembered forward Tawnya Danis. “I was coming upstairs and somebody said ‘great game going on!’ I ran into the room to get my skates and go on the ice.”
“It was a great way to finish and have fun with the girls one more time.”
“That was what it has always been,” said Stingers captain Rose Healy.
“We were having fun on the ice, and the ice is where we’re happiest,” she said.
Healy’s sister also partook in the game.
“She has always been a great fan, she comes to every game and she put on her skates. We had some good laughs.”
Hatin-Léveillée and forward Angela Di Stasi are the other players who also played their last game in Stinger colours.
Bianca Chartrand spent the least amount of time at Concordia. She just completed her third year – an abnormality considering the time commitments demanded of varsity athletes.
“It was different for me because I was one of the few girls who leave after three years,” Chartrand said. “So it seemed short, because it was short,” she said.
Chartrand played defence in her first year with the team, but played forward the last two seasons. In her last game as a Stinger, she scored her team’s only goal in an 8-1 loss.
“Although we lost by a lot, just scoring a goal – especially against [Canadian national team member Charline Labonte] – made it even better.”
Tawnya Danis looks back to her first year when she, Healy and Di Stasi had to fight for every shift. Back then Concordia had more players than lineup spots and rookies not only had to make the team, but also fought for ice time. On a team that was so successful, it was easier said than done.
“My first year was the year I learned the most,” Danis said. “I didn’t play much, and it made me realize how much you had to work to be a regular,” she said.
Her first goal in a Stinger uniform is her fondest memory.
“It was the final of the Theresa Humes tournament,” she said. “And I didn’t see the ice in the first period, and then they’d say that I’d play and I scored on my first shift,” she said. “It was such a good feeling. It was so hard to crack the lineup, and after that goal I had a regular shift.”
Angela Di Stasi doesn’t single out any one moment when talking about her career as a student-athlete at Concordia.
“Looking back brings such a great feeling,” she said. “Of course there are positives and negatives, wins and losses, but just being on the ice every day having great coaching and learning so much makes me feel like this couldn’t have been any better,” Di Stasi said.
“I’ve made friends that I’ll be with forever,” she said.
“I’ve grown so much in five years. I hope I can be as successful in years to come as I was here and I’ll take what I’ve learned from sport and apply it to real life,” she concluded.
Meggy Hatin-Leveillee thought she was destined as a backup goaltender for her tenure at Concordia. When she came to Concordia four years ago, the Stingers goaltender was Cecilia Anderson, who was in her second year. Anderson won rookie of the year in her first year at Concordia and MVP in her second year. When Anderson went to tournaments representing her native Sweden, it opened the door for Hatin-Leveillee.
Her breakout performance was in the 2006 Theresa Humes tournament. She led Concordia to a 2-1 record, earning shutouts in back-to-back games and won the top goaltender award of the tournament. She has been the starter ever since.
“When I got my shot I needed the team to believe in me,” Hatin-Leveillee said. “I don’t think they ever stopped believing.”
Rose Healy was in her fifth year with the Stingers this year. The defenceman was named captain for this past season.
“It means everything to me,” she said.
“When I think back to when I was a rookie to become leader it’s a huge thing.”
“When you think about the players who used to play here, being named captain of this team is the biggest thing I’ve accomplished,” Healy said.
“I didn’t want it to end,” said Di Stasi. “It’s like before you die, you get flashbacks from life as a rookie and went through all my years until now. I didn’t want the feeling to go away. I had to enjoy it while it lasted.”
There is a certain pride for every athlete at Concordia. This “Stinger Pride”, as they like to call it, is something tangible, but still hard to put into words.
“It starts from the heart,” Di Stasi said. “You learn to be a Stinger, you play for your teammates and you play for your school. It’s like somebody who’s a fan of the Canadiens or the Maple Leafs. It’s engrained in your mind. It’s not just that you’re a Stinger. It’s more than that.”
“You have to be proud of what you’re a part of,” said Danis. “It’s about being proud of putting that jersey on day in, day out,” she said.
“I don’t think I can describe it,” said Chartrand. “Until you’re part of a team you can’t see what it is,” she said.
“All teams have their own way of showing it. It’s something to be proud of and own,” she said.
“Being a Stinger is in your identity,” said Hatin-Leveillee.
“When you talk to people, the first thing you say is that you play for the Stingers,” she said.
“It was the time of my life.”