Audrey Belzile scores three goals as Gee-Gees only get 14 shots
With another hat-trick from forward Audrey Belzile, the Concordia Stingers women’s hockey team won game one of the Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec (RSEQ) semi-final, 5-0, against the Ottawa Gee-Gees on Feb. 22.
If there was such thing as a perfect game one, this was it for the Stingers. Right from the opening face-off, they asserted dominance and consistency, setting aside what had been a trend of struggling first periods all season. The Stingers allowed a mere 14 shots from the Gee-Gees all game.
“We came ready to play and capitalized early on, and that’s really important,” said head coach Julie Chu. “It’s always huge to get game one.”
The Stingers wasted no time from the face-off as forward Sophie Gagnon found herself on a breakaway just 11 seconds in. She was tripped and earned a penalty shot, beating Gee-Gees goalie Maude Lévesque-Ryan to her blocker side.
“We had the penalty shot right off the bat. It’s a huge momentum boost for us when you get to capitalize on your first chance,” Chu said.
Forward Vyckie Gélinas scored another goal a few minutes later. Belzile added a goal in the final minute of the third period, again beating Lévesque-Ryan on her blocker side. The Stingers led 3-0 after the first period.
“When we come closer, she goes down which opens the [blocker] side, so we shoot there,” Belzile said about Lévesque-Ryan’s weakness.
In the second period on a five-on-three powerplay, Belzile picked up a loose puck in front of the net and scored her second goal of the night. A tame and focused Stingers team continued the pressure and took their only penalty of the game in the second period on a delay-of-game call. The Gee-Gees, however, were becoming more frustrated and took many roughing penalties throughout the game.
In the third period, Belzile completed her hat-trick on another powerplay. The Stingers’s fifth goal midway through the third period forced the Gee-Gees to do a goalie change.
“We’re confident, because the first game is very important. It sets the tone,” said Belzile, looking ahead to the rest of the series. “They are afraid, so now we have the control of the playoffs. We want to finish this in two games at their home.”
The best-of-three series goes back to Ottawa on Feb. 24 in a do-or-die game for the Gee-Gees. If the Stingers win, Concordia will advance to the RSEQ final and qualify for the national championship in London, Ont., in March.
Main photo by Alex Hutchins.