It was game one of the best-of-three playoff series for the Concordia Stingers men’s hockey team, its first playoff appearance in three years. Their opponents were their cross-town rivals, the McGill Redmen.
These two teams put on quite a show for the 279 fans that showed up to McConnell Arena, a 3-1 victory for the Redmen on Wednesday night.
Both teams had a strong offensive showing, despite a low-scoring game. For the Stingers, as head coach Kevin Figsby put it, it was probably one of their strongest games since Christmas.
However, it wasn’t enough. Despite outshooting the Redmen 31-30 and goaltender Antonio Mastropietro making some spectacular saves, the Stingers gave up three goals to a Redmen team that pounced on every single error that they made, despite not making many.
The Stingers were missing three key players in forwards Jessyco Bernard and Taylor Lambke, and defenceman Sean Blunden. According to coach Figsby, this trio could have easily made a difference in the game.
“With them in the lineup, it’s a different outcome tonight,” he said. “To play without these three guys going into the playoffs, I knew it was going to be difficult.”
The Stingers started the game strong and applied some good pressure in the first, but were not rewarded. In the second, the Redmen finally got the first goal of the game, with right-winger David Rose scoring 6:04 into the second period. However, that lead didn’t last long as the Stingers’ centre Olivier Hinse countered just 40 seconds later with a power-play goal.
The Redmen then put this game out of reach for the Stingers in a 63-second span late in the second period, as Rose scored his second goal of the game at 16:40 of the middle frame, and centre Marc-Olivier Vachon scored only 63 seconds later. Despite a furious comeback attempt in the third, all the Stingers could muster was a post and a 3-1 defeat, an outcome that misrepresents the team’s performance and their compete level on this night.
Figsby was happy about his team’s performance but believes there was room for improvement.
“I thought for 45 minutes of tonight’s game, we executed the game plan perfectly, we had a let-down for a minute and three seconds and it cost us two goals tonight,” he said. “I thought there were a couple of guys that let down in the game plan, they didn’t carry out their assignments and the reason is, when you play a team like this, they capitalize when you make mistakes, and all three goals they scored tonight were unforced errors.”
The Stingers entered the post-season having won their last two games before their final home game was delayed due to bad ice conditions They finished the regular season with a 10-13-4 record, good for 24 points, fifth in the Ontario University Athletics (OUA)’s east division.