If the Stingers have learned anything from last year it’s that they need to play consistently for an entire season.
Last year, Concordia started the season 9-3 before going on a seven game losing streak where the Stingers were outscored 48-21, which included a humiliating 11-2 loss at Lakehead.
Needless to say, Concordia has to improve defensively. The Stingers allowed the second most goals in their conference last year, negating the fact that they were one of the best teams offensively. Returning defenceman Eric Begin will be heavily relied on to shut down other teams’ top units and be a leader for the Stingers.
Concordia will also have a lot of fresh faces on the ice this season which may not necessarily be a bad thing. The biggest addition for the Stingers will be in the crease. Nicholas Champion joins the Stingers after a successful career playing in the QMJHL. Champion will be a likely improvement over last year’s starting goalie, Maxime Joyal, who posted an ugly 4.95 goals against average and .869 save percentage.
“A lot of new faces have joined our ranks this year, and the energy on the ice and in the room is as positive as I’ve ever seen it,” said second-year winger Roberto Mormina. “If we do the little things right and we trust each other to make the right decisions on and off the ice, we’re going to have a very successful season.”
Despite recent struggles, the entire team remains optimistic.
“We’re looking forward to a great season,” said defenceman Michael Blundon. “We’ve got a good group of veterans coming back and an exciting group of rookies. We’ve had a good pre-season and we are excited for the regular season to start.”
The Stingers haven’t posted a record above .500 since the 2008-09 season and have not won a playoff round in a decade. Fortunately for the Stingers though, once the puck drops on a new season, there is another chance to erase history.
The story is similar on the women’s side.
Much like the men last season, the Concordia women’s hockey team was a middle-of-the-pack team that made an early playoff exit.
The Stingers finished last season with an 8-10 record placing third in their five team conference. The Stingers qualified for the playoffs but were promptly swept in their best-of-three series by UniversitÃ© de MontrÃ©al. Though last season ended in disappointment, the team expects to have learned from the experience and to have more success this year.
With numerous veterans returning from last year’s roster and a year of experience under their belts, fourth-year player Mallory Lawton has high hopes for this year’s edition of the team.
“I think that the expectations for this season are higher than in previous years,” she said. “We have some young players who joined the team this year who have shown a lot of potential and have the ability to make an impact in our league right away. We are a bigger and quicker team this year, and overall, I think this is going to be a great year if we can play together as a team, work hard and challenge each other in practice.”
This sentiment was echoed by winger Emilie Bocchia. “We always want to do better than last season. (The goal) this year is to win a playoff round and make it to nationals. We all have to have chemistry, focus and most importantly we have to hate to lose,” she said.
The Stingers did make great improvements year, as the team is only two seasons removed from a ghastly 1-19-2 record in 2009-10.
If the team hopes to make it to nationals, they will have to go through a powerhouse McGill squad that went undefeated last season. Though getting past McGill may be a stretch, this is a Stingers team that should be playing improved and exciting hockey this season.