It wasn’t just the Flyers and Rangers playing under the open sky this holiday.
The Concordia Stingers men’s hockey team played an outdoor classic of its own on a recent holiday Euro-trip.
The team was in high spirits as it came back from Switzerland and Italy, acting as school ambassador in a series of European games. The men played outdoors in St. Moritz, Switzerland before jumping the Alps and playing in Italy.
“We were driving up to the top of the Swiss Alps in a snow storm, on a one lane highway,” said coach Kevin Figsby. “With a snow bank on the right side, and a 3,000 ft. drop on the left side, and the guys were asking if it gets any better.”
Figsby said that the experience in Europe inspired the Concordia hockey players, who can draw on a history of graduates who play professional overseas.
Figsby said in the past 13 years, Concordia has put more players in pro-hockey in Europe than any other university in Canada. There are currently 19 former Stinger players playing in Europe. There are three graduating players on the current roster, who have a real possibility of playing overseas within the next two years.
The trip highlighted for the players the real possibilities aside from the NHL for those with the skill to play competitive hockey professionally.
“We had an absolutely fabulous trip,” said Figsby. “I thought our players did a tremendous job as ambassadors for our university.”
The experience is one that will stay with them forever, and they hope to keep the inspiration and experience going into the winter semester.
It is a young team with nine first-year players and 14 second-year players, and the team needs to tighten up and stay competitive in the tough second half, according to Figsby.
“If we continue to build and take the positive experience from Europe, I’m expecting an exciting second half,” he said. “We’ve got a pretty good chance to finish in the top half of the pack in the second half.”
The high-flying duo of George Lovatsis and Michael Stinziani look to continue their explosive ways as the team finishes off their season.
Concordia has four home games coming up in the next two weeks, all at the Loyola rink.
Their next game is Wednesday night, Jan. 18 at home against UQTR.
The women also did some jet-setting during the holidays, but they went across the other pond.
The women travelled to a country known for bento boxes, kendo sticks and… hockey? The Stingers’ trip to Japan gave them innumerable cultural experiences that they can call on for inspiration in the winter term.
They played the Japanese national team in Sapporo, and then, in Tokyo, played a number of club teams.
“We embraced the culture and had a wonderful time,” said coach Les Lawton.
The experience is one that the women can use moving forward in the season. The samurai spirit will need to be fostered on the young team as they fight for a positive end to the season.
Concordia’s women’s hockey team needs to move in one direction heading into the second half of the season: up. They struggled in league play at the end of December.
Lawton acknowledged that his team is relatively young, but hopes that his players will use the experience they learned in the first half of the year and improve.
“We have to bring a little more intensity to our games,” said Lawton.
He is looking to Alyssa Sherrard, and the young goaltenders to pick up their games in the second half.
The tough veteran defensive pairing of Meghan George and Alynn Doiron will be leaned on as both players head into the tail end of their university sports careers.
The women’s next game is Friday, Jan. 20 at Université de Montréal at 7 p.m.