The Concordia men’s hockey team had a great week, winning two crucial division games on the road to the playoffs. The Stingers earned a 3-2 shootout win against the Carleton Ravens on Wednesday, and dominated the Ottawa Gee-Gees 3-2 in regulation on Friday.
The game on Wednesday took on a grim tone early, when starting goaltender Maxime Joyal left the game with an injury. Mike Shrider8212;a veteran of the team who has never actually suited up for a game8212;was given the nod. Shrider, known as “Rudy” to his teammates in reference to the courageous Notre Dame football player, stole the game for the Stingers.
“You don’t forget those games,” head coach Kevin Figsby said, “to come into a visitor’s rink and have your starting goaltender go down, then to come from behind and have your fourth goaltender win the game for you is just incredible.”
Carleton dictated the play early in the game when they fired two close-range shots on net before banging the third one home. A shorthanded goal in the second put the Ravens up by two, but Stingers rookie Charles-Antoine Messier put Concordia on the board 11:29 into the period.
At just 2:40 in the third period, newcomer Peter James Corsi snapped a wicked wrist shot that rang off the crossbar and plummeted down behind the goal line, to even the game. When overtime failed to solve the draw, the game went into a shootout. Stingers forward George Lovatsis scored five hole, Corsi whistled a backhand shot glove side and captain Marc-AndrÃ© Element netted the final deal breaker.
Shrider was between the pipes for the game against the Gee-Gees on Friday, in his first start in four years. A really solid first period led to only one goal sneaking by him early on.
At 2:27 of the second, Stingers rookie Anthony Pittarelli scored his first of the season with assists from Nick Sciangula and Corey Garland. With the game tied at one, Ottawa took the lead halfway through the second. The one goal advantage was short lived, and Marc-AndrÃ© Rizk evened up the game for Concordia just 90 seconds later.
Despite it being a must-win game for the Stingers, the team kept their emotions in check and avoided the penalty box save for a few moments of weakness. Desperation ran its course, with guys laying down the body to block shots and taking hits to clear the puck. With just under four minutes left in the third, Element scored a huge powerplay goal to win the Stingers the game.
Despite the captain’s game-winning goal, Shrider was the one that stole the show. Humbly, he was quick to praise his teammates’ effort.
“I think the guys played really well, and they came through for me,” Shrider said, “I was a lot more comfortable in this game than (Wednesday’s). I wasn’t as nervous. I knew we’d win this one.”
Coach Figsby, who added four new players to his roster after Christmas, was ecstatic with the team’s effort and their perseverance through adversity.
“Who would predict that we’d bring in some key players, then lose our starting goaltender? Who would predict that the guy who was your fourth or fifth goaltender starting the season has now won you two major games in a row?”
Figsby couldn’t say enough about Shrider’s commitment and dedication to the Stingers.
“He has practiced every day for four years. He never asked when he was going to play, he understood and accepted his role,” Figsby said.
Despite early-season chemistry issues due in large part to the numerous rookies trying to get their footing and key players from last year graduating or turning pro, the Stingers are starting to look like the solid, well-oiled machine that they were last year.
“Guys are starting to play for each other. When that happens, good things follow,” Figsby said.
The Stingers play the UniversitÃ© de QuÃ©bec a Trois-RiviÃ¨res on Wednesday, and play at Ottawa on Saturday before returning home to face McGill at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 31.