Concordia Stingers men’s hockey team stayed positive in their first preseason game at the McConnell Arena against the McGill Redmen on Thursday night, despite a 6-4 loss which saw the Stingers surrender three goals to McGill’s powerplay.
The Stingers started off the game strong, building an early 2-1 lead in the first period thanks to goals by Anthony Nobili and Jessyko Bernard, but found themselves in penalty trouble near the end of the period and down 3-2 headed into the first intermission after surrendering two shorthanded goals.
The Redmen struck again early in the second period, scoring two quick goals. The score was 5-2 McGill before the halfway mark of the period, which team captain George Lovatsis said was “definitely their worst period of the night.” The two teams exchanged goals in the second half of the period, Lovatsis scoring for the Stingers. The Redmen took a 6-3 lead into the intermission.
The Stingers started the third period with lots of energy, and didn’t let the three-goal deficit intimidate them.
“In the third period, they stuck to the game plan perfectly,” said Stingers head coach Kevin Figsby. He added that with a bit more luck the team may have been able to score a few more goals.
Lovatsis hit the post early in the period while Ben Dubois managed the only goal in the period to bring the Stingers within two, which would be as close as they would get despite putting furious pressure on the Redmen late in the game.
Figsby was also very satisfied with his team’s performance in the first and third period, although Lovatsis, who registered a goal and an assist in this game, was quick to point out the teams’ inconsistencies in the past seasons.
“We have to stay consistent and we can’t just take one period off, since that’s something that’s been a history of ours, where one period loses us the game, and that’s what happened today,” said Lovatsis.
In a team with several new players, veterans Lovatsis and forward Olivier Hinse, say the team has a lot to look forward to this coming season. “I think we have a great attitude,” said Hinse, “We’re working and we have guys that hit, that skate, that never stop working, and we had a little let down in the second, but we came back hard in the third period so that’s what we want and hopefully it’s going to be great this year.”
“I think it’s going to be a great season,” added Hinse. “We’re going to make the playoffs for sure, we have a great attitude and that’s what we need to have success, and I think we’re going to be good.”
Despite the loss, there were many positives to take out of the game. The first and most important one, Figsby said, is that the Stingers played the game without most of their best players. Some of them were injured, like Youssef Kabbaj, while others did not play. Figsby says that the team still has cuts to make and this was an opportunity for him to evaluate his players.
Figsby also pointed out that the Redmen put their best team on the ice, and losing 6-4 against a top team like McGill is something to be proud of.
Figsby was quick to deny any concern about the penalty killing unit, saying that the team’s best penalty killer was not dressed for the game today. Furthermore, Figsby explained that over the past few seasons the Stingers have had one of the best penalty kills in all of Canada, and that there really isn’t anything to worry about there.