The Stingers learned a tough lesson in the first round of the Ontario University Athletics playoffs: sometimes, the better team doesn’t win. The men’s hockey team lost game one against UniversitÃ© du QuÃ©bec Ã Trois-RiviÃ¨res with a score of 6-2, then rebounded to beat the Patriotes at home 2-1. In a best of three series, the Stingers met their fate in a nail biting 4-2 loss on Sunday.
“It’s a learning experience,” head coach Kevin Figsby said, “we had goals coming into this series. We accomplished most of them 8212; except for winning.”
Concordia, comprised mostly of rookies this year, looked a little frightened during the first game. They were caught watching and following the play a bit too much, rather than dictating and establishing their place.
The Stingers’ George Lovatsis opened scoring halfway through the first on a powerplay, to give Concordia a 1-0 lead. It was short-lived, with a Patriotes’ slapshot from the blueline re-directed into the twine to even the score. The Stingers looked slightly better in the second period, getting their legs under them to out-hustle the Patriotes. Strong play along the boards has been a trademark for Concordia this year, and the team won the crucial battles for puck possession.
The Patriotes took the lead halfway into the second when Pierre-Alexandre Joncas took advantage of the open cage behind sprawling goaltender Maxime Joyal. With Concordia in the box for interference, captain Marc-AndrÃ© Element swooped into the zone and scored an uplifting shorthanded goal to even the game at 2-2. Despite the momentum shift that a shorthanded goal can provide, the Patriotes swung the pendulum back their way when they scored with just 26 seconds left in the period. The score was 3-2 at the end of the second.
The Patriotes wouldn’t relinquish the lead after that point, scoring a back-breaking three goals in the third period while the Stingers tried to keep up. Discipline was an issue in the game, with the Stingers playing most of the third period on the penalty kill and finishing the game at a lopsided 6-2.
The Stingers fared far better in the second game on home ice, in front of a boisterous crowd. A quick goal by the Patriotes just 12 seconds into the first period quickly silenced the fans, but the goal was waved off because the whistle had already been blown.
Lovatsis opened the scoring again for the Stingers when he broke free at the blue line and ripped a shot at the Patriotes’ goaltender. Lovatsis caught his own rebound and managed to jam the puck past the line on the second attempt, to put Concordia up 1-0. Tensions from a scrappy game one spilled over, as both teams were assessed offsetting minor penalties for roughing. With key clutch players in the box, the score was still 1-0 at the end of the first.
With various penalties still littering the second, Joyal stood on his head to keep the puck from going in after a few breakway attempts by the Patriotes. He couldn’t stop them all, and UQTR managed to squeak one past the Concordia goaltender, at the end of the third, to tie the game 1-1.
The hero of the third period was rookie Alexandre Monahan, who scored the game-winning goal for the Stingers. With just under ten minutes remaining in the game, Monahan broke free and dangled the goalie. He pushed the puck past the line but his momentum carried him crashing into the corner boards after. Concordia won the game 2-1, and forced a third match.
Despite being close to a close fairy tale ending, the Stingers fell 4-2 in the last game, ending their 2009-2010 season.
“We had a lot of rookies on our team this year,” Figsby said, “That means that next year, we’re going to have a lot of second-year players who are going to know what to expect.”
Concordia opened in scoring when veteran defenceman Jesse Goodsell let go a howitzer from the blue line, at the end of the first. The Patriotes rebounded 4 minutes into the third, when they forced a two-on-one after Concordia couldn’t keep the puck in the offensive zone. Just two minutes later, UQTR scored again to get a 2-1 lead, which then quickly became a 3-1 lead after another lucky two on one break. Concordia closed the gap to one goal, after scoring late in the second.
The Stingers held it close for most of the third, but the Patriotes caught a lucky bounce that gave them a secure 4-2 lead, ending the post-season for the Stingers.
“Despite the outcome, I’m proud of the team, I’m proud of the guys, and I’m proud of the way we played. We had a great season,” Figsby said.