At Concordia University, there comes a certain pride every year, usually at the beginning of January before classes resume, at the Ed Meagher Arena when teams come together for the annual Theresa Humes Women’s Hockey Tournament.
The tournament itself began back in 1968 and has carried tradition throughout the years. Humes herself was a pioneer when it came to women’s sports, especially with the hockey program.
“She fought for equality and helped our program to be on the same playing field as the men’s teams,” explained current Stingers captain Mallory Lawton. “So it’s thanks to her that we have the opportunities that we have today.”
This year, the tournament hosted by Concordia had five visitors: the Carleton Ravens, Ottawa Gee-Gees, Queen’s Gaels, Ryerson Rams and York Lions.
Out of the six teams, none capped off a perfect winning record after the weekend tournament finished. On the bright side, no team went winless either, and there was only one real blowout game.
The Stingers took to the ice against the York Lions, whom they defeated in preseason action by a 4-0 count. This game, albeit a tighter match, still saw the Stingers prevail by a 3-2 margin.
“From the beginning of the preseason up until this point, there is so much improvement up and down the roster,” explained goaltender Carolanne Lavoie-Pilon in her first-ever Humes tournament game. “The rest was nice, but it gave us more hunger and desire to be on the ice.”
After a scoreless first, which included two solid penalty kills by the Stingers, the Lions jumped at the beginning of the second. Forward Erin Cameron broke in alone and wristed a shot past Lavoie-Pilon giving them a 1-0 lead. Just under six minutes later the Stingers pushed hard and after a battle for the puck in front of the York netminder, veteran Emilie Bocchia found the back of the net, tying the game up at one apiece.
The third period was dominated early on by the Stingers, who created plays and strongly held possession of the puck. They were rewarded at the 6:39 mark when rookie forward Tracy-Ann Lavigne took a perfect pass from blueliner Gabrielle Meilleur and broke in with dazzling speed, ripping a shot, giving the Stingers a 2-1 lead. The goal was also Lavigne’s first in a Stingers uniform.
“It’s exciting,” said Lavigne of her goal. “I’m really quite happy; with the goal and the start.” Lavigne also got to keep the puck.
Exactly six minutes later, Concordia was again found deep in York territory when a scramble for the puck led to another first-year, Marie-Pier Cloutier, to find the yawning cage and giving the Stingers a two-goal cushion and the eventual winner.
“My resolution is to score more,” added Cloutier following the game. “I would like to contribute to the score sheet any way I can.”
The Stingers maintained the stranglehold until late. In the last minute, the referees assessed two back-to-back calls against Concordia sending Lavigne and defender Jillian Ferguson to the penalty box at 19:17 and 19:20. The Lions got one back with 27 seconds left on the clock, but it wasn’t enough, as the Stingers were victorious.
In their second match of the tournament, the Stingers went up against Ryerson. The maroon and gold got off to a hot start with Audrey Morand batting in her own rebound just 2:16 into the game, with assists to Jaymee Shell and Lawton.
They held the lead until the 1:23 mark of the second when Rams captain Janella Brodett squeaked a shot that found its way behind Stingers goaltender Chelsey Hodges. The game was even up until very late. Hodges finished with 26 saves.
In the third period, after Morand and Monique Cornett got off-setting minors, the Rams offense were let loose in the slot and Samantha Pui wristed one past Hodges.
Concordia didn’t let up battling hard and had a strong chance with under 10 minutes to go. When the Rams’ Justine Glover was in the box for hooking, the Stingers top powerplay, consisting of five forwards, set up a marvelous passing sequence that finished off with Alyssa Sherrard firing a shot past Rams goaltender Emma Crawley.
“It was honestly one of our best power-plays,” said a pleased Sherrard. “It felt so natural, and so good. Our team connections are working.”
Both teams fought late until when Emily Popelar scored an identical goal to the team’s second to give Ryerson the lead with 3:48 to play. A late power play couldn’t get going and an almost buzzer-equalizer by Erin Lally couldn’t work, and the Stingers dropped the game 3-2.
Coming into the final game, the Stingers took to the ice against the Queen’s Gaels in a match much-hyped as Queen’s is ranked fourth in CIS rankings. The first period ended after an exchange of goals between Gaels’ Morgan McHaffie and Concordia’s Lavigne getting her first of two on the night.
Stingers head coach Les Lawton decided to split up his top line of Bocchia-Sherrard and Veronique Laramee-Paquette which seemed to work albeit some hesitance.
“It was a good change, working with Lavigne and Hayley Boyd gave a good, new energy,” explained Laramee-Paquette. “We bring different elements to each line, and I like being able to give them confidence.”
The Stingers got a lead 5:30 into the middle frame when Morand got her second of the tournament by pushing her rebound underneath the goaltender. But 50 seconds later, the Gaels tied it with Stingers’ Lavoie-Pilon out-of-position trying to locate the puck.
They added another at 9:44 and then late in the period, took two penalties in 16 seconds, with Shell off for delay of game, and the Stingers got slapped soon after with an unsportsmanlike conduct call. Before the end of the period the Gaels doubled their lead.
“I gave the team a solid inspirational speech between the second and third, referencing David and Goliath,” explained general manager Caitlin Booth. “I think it worked because we came back hard. Overall, we played a very good tournament.”
At 10:05 of the second, Lavigne potted her second goal, getting a perfect feed from rookie defender Margaret Hotte.
“We regrouped after the second and calmed down,” explained Hotte. “It was a good team effort, although I was really motivated to win.”
The Gaels didn’t let up, restoring their two-goal lead at 11:20. Even that was short-lived as Erin Lally shoveled a rebound from a point shot by Laurie Proulx-Duperee into the net with under six to go, but the Stingers couldn’t find the equalizer and dropped the last game 5-4.
The Stingers are back in regular season action when they host the Montréal Carabins on Friday, Jan. 11 at Ed Meagher Arena. The actions starts at 7:30 p.m..