With a plethora of fresh talent, Concordia had one of its best seasons in years
When the Concordia Stingers men’s hockey team defeated the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) Ridgebacks in game three of their first-round playoff series, it marked the first time the Stingers had advanced past the first round in 16 years.
The Stingers hockey program, which has been plagued with a lack of talent and interest for the last decade, crawled their way out of the darkness and became one of the best teams in the league this year. The team, led by captain Olivier Hinse, finished second in their division and were ranked seventh in the country by U SPORTS.
So why the sudden change? How did a team that finished seventh in their division a year ago, become such a powerhouse in one of the toughest divisions in the country?
Well, there are a couple of factors, one of them being head coach Marc-André Élement. Élement was an interim head coach last year, but during the off-season he was hired full time. Since then, Élement has implemented a solid defensive system which has complimented the team’s natural ability to score goals.
Last year, the team’s biggest problem was defence and goaltending. Starting goaltender Robin Billingham had a goals-against average of four goals against per game, while the defence struggled to keep teams at bay. The offence, however, was always strong with Hinse and former player Jessyko Bernard leading the charge.
Élement addressed these problems in the off-season, adding goaltender Philippe Cadorette and an array of talented young defencemen, including Anthony Gingras, Alexandre Gosselin, Matthieu Desautels and Michael Beauregard.
With the defensive issues addressed, Élement did not stop there. He also went out and added more goal scorers like forwards Philippe Sanche, Anthony Beauregard and Anthony De Luca, who finished with the second most goals in the country. De Luca was also first place in rookie scoring this season.
All of these pieces meshed perfectly this season, creating the perfect storm which culminated in the best season the team has had in decades. Before the season, few pundits predicted the Stingers would pull off what they did. The team was able to compete against strong teams like McGill, Queen’s and Ryerson, which were all teams they struggled against in the past.
The team was fun to watch, and they finished the season with the second most goals in the league, with 118 in 28 games.
Now what’s next for this team?
Well, that’s a good question. Hinse, who has been with the team for five years, is graduating and will not be back next year, which means there will be a leadership void. However, with assistant captains Philippe Hudon and Raphael Lafontaine coming back next year, the team should be in good hands. It will just depend on who Élement decides should dawn the “C” next season.
Fans of the team shouldn’t worry too much though. This year’s team was filled with talented rookies, which means these players will be with the Stingers for the next three to four years. That means the next few years of Stingers hockey will be some of the most entertaining hockey in the country.
Not to mention, now that Concordia hockey is back on the map, more and more recruits are going to want to come play here.
There is definitely still some work to be done with this team, but it won’t be long before they are contending for a Queen’s Cup and maybe a U SPORTS championship.