Sporting a revamped look with many new faces, new jerseys, and a new team, the Concordia Stingers women’s hockey team took to the ice Saturday afternoon at Ed Meagher Arena, dropping 8-1 at the hands of their cross-town rivals, the McGill Martlets.
With many alumni on hand to take in the season opener, the Stingers dressed seven rookies, including goaltender Chelsey Hodges, making it her first career CIS league start.
“It’s really exciting, but I was very nervous,” said Hodges, who allowed six goals on 19 shots. “Finding out I’m starting [the game], I was happy to hit the ice.”
The Martlets, no longer nationally ranked first, still had the Stingers number roaring out of the gate scoring on a shot just under Hodges’ blocker 55 seconds into the tilt.
Hodges got back on her feet quickly, stopping close chances by the Martlets potent offense.
“I said I needed to focus and go on,” said Hodges. “I knew that McGill was strong, but to keep the work ethic, and continue to play hard.”
However, barely six minutes into the first, Concordia rookie defender Danielle Leonard took a holding call, which McGill quickly responded with forward Melodie Daoust scoring from the circle just under Hodges’ glove, doubling their lead. Daoust led the day in points scoring one goal and four assists.
The Martlets added another tally on the main advantage, going two-for-four on the day, before the period was out, leading 3-0 through the first 20 minutes.
In the second, the Stingers seemed more aligned, with stronger player coverage and efficiently breaking up the Martlets’ passing.
Recently-named captain Mallory Lawton missed a close chance in the opening minutes after a scramble in front of McGill goaltender Taylor Salisbury was covered.
At 4:25 of the second, McGill’s top line struck again with forward Katia Clément-Heydra getting her first of two on the night with helpers from Daoust and Leslie Oles. The line combined for four goals and seven assists on the afternoon.
Midway through the frame, with Martlets defender Stacie Tardif in the box, the Stingers had a very strong power play, easily cycling the puck back and forth.
“We are a good mix of young and old, a little inexperienced playing with four rookies on defense,” said captain Lawton. “We just have to fine tune our offence and defense and we’re sure to make it closer.”
After the Martlets made it 6-0, Stingers head coach Les Lawton decided to rest Hodges by replacing her with Carolanne Lavoie-Pilon.
“We’re a young team, and we’ve got work to do. We need to put our nose to the grind,” said Lawton, starting his 31st season behind Concordia’s bench. “We need to work on consistency, but it’s still very early.”
Late in the period, Concordia had another chance on the advantage and this time, they capitalized. Stinger Erin Lally found an open Jayme Shell at the side of the net, sending Salisbury sprawling but coming out empty, and Shell getting her first goal of the season.
McGill added a shorthanded goal in the last minute of the period, making it 7-1.
In the third, McGill added their final goal of the afternoon when their top line connected again.
Despite the loss, the team sees good things for the upcoming season.
“I’m disappointed in the score, but definitely not the effort,” said Lawton. “If we continually work hard, chase the other teams, and build stronger as a team, we definitely have a shot at the top three.”
Concordia has an upcoming double-header weekend when they play an away game at U de M on Friday, Oct. 19 at 7 p.m. and return to home ice to face off against Carleton on Saturday, Oct. 20 at 2:30 p.m.