The Concordia Stingers opened the new season with a 7-4 loss at the hands of the second-ranked McGill Martlets Friday evening.
Although they lost, the Stingers can still say that they are the first team from the Quebec conference in a little less than two years to score more than three goals against McGill. The last team to do so was Ottawa, who lost 6-4 to the Martlets in November 2008.
This goal-scoring improvement comes as a pleasant surprise, since one of Concordia’s major woes last year was offence.
They only scored 31 goals in 18 regular season games, the lowest in the Quebec conference. McGill, the defending Quebec champions from the past five years and last year’s runner-up for the Canadian title, wasted little time to make their mark. Thirty seconds into the contest, freshman Leslie Oles fired in the first goal of her university career and gave the lead to McGill, who never looked back.
The Stingers displayed a young opening night line-up as six freshmen made their entrance onto the university rink.
They may have been nervous, as the Stingers looked shaky during the first period allowing 23 shots on goaltender Audrey Doyon-Lessard, which resulted in five unanswered goals from McGill.
After the goals of Martlets Leslie Oles, Ann-Sophie Bettez, Caroline Hill, Katia Clement-Heydra and Lainie Smith, Concordia replied with 25 seconds left in the first period with a power play goal by Erin Lally making it 5-1. The opportune tip-in goal was the result of only four shots during the period.
The second span was more even; each team scored once and the shots were 12 to 11 for McGill. The Martlets were able to capitalize on a second period power play when captain and reigning MVP Cathy Chartrand scored.
Concordia was the more undisciplined team during the match, taking eight penalties compared to only three by McGill. Stingers forward Maggie MacNeil, who finished the game with three penalties, scored in the second period to make it 6-2. The goal came with less than two minutes left in the second, when Stingers’ fresh- man Jaymee Shell was able to take a loose puck from a scrum in front of the McGill crease and pass it to a wide-open MacNeil who buried the puck in the net.
The last period saw Concordia’s top scorer from last year, Emilie Bocchia, score her first goal of the year 3:12 into the period with a shot that sailed in the lower half of the net. She also helped to set up Lally’s second goal with a nice pass to start an offensive rush from her own zone. Freshman Moira Frier assisted on both third period goals. This made it 6-4 but penalties and a late McGill power play goal sealed the outcome.
Stingers head coach Les Lawton said that he liked how his young team “held their own” against a powerhouse like McGill and hopes that it “build[s] confidence” going forward.
McGill’s bench boss Peter Smith also had kind words for the Stingers, saying that they have “a young and improved team” that pressured them during parts of the game. McGill rookie Leslie Oles stole the show finishing her debut with a goal, two assists and being named the first star of the game.
Other Martlets freshmen also contributed in their first appearance; Katia Clement-Heydra equalled Oles’ output with a goal and two assists, defence woman Gillian Ferrari scored a powerplay goal with 1:53 left in the game, and defence woman Adrienne Crampton assisted on Clement-Heydra’s goal.
Concordia’s rookie sensation, Holli Monahan, will have to wait to make her debut due to a groin injury which kept her out of Friday’s opener.
With the win, McGill’s unbeaten streak against Quebec league teams now stands at 82 consecutive wins.
The Stingers will take on Montreal this Friday at CEPSUM. Game time is 7 p.m.