Women’s hockey team books spot in finals and nationals for second-straight year
After losing game two on the road on Feb. 24 and with their season on the line, the Concordia Stingers women’s hockey team was forced to play a third game at home on Feb. 25 in their playoff series against the Ottawa Gee-Gees. The Stingers came out on top with a 2-1 win at the Ed Meagher Arena, clinching a spot in the Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec (RSEQ) final, and in the national championship in London, Ont., in March.
The first period was a tense affair with teams trading power plays and solid chances with no result. The deadlock was broken halfway through the second period when Stingers captain and defenceman Marie-Joëlle Allard put home a rebound following a hectic scramble in front of the Gee-Gees net. When Allard scored, four Gee-Gees, the goalie and even the referee were all lying on the ice.
“All the games we’ve played against this team have been really physical, so we knew that there were going to be penalties throughout this series,” Allard said. “We really worked on our special teams play building up to this series, and that definitely paid off.”
As the second period was winding down and the Stingers upped the offensive pressure, a stray rebound found its way onto forward Lidia Fillion’s stick, and she made no mistake, giving the Stingers a 2-0 lead. The home crowd was buzzing with the thought of potentially going to the finals for a second-straight year.
One of hockey’s favourite clichés is that a two-goal lead is the worst lead to have, and that seemed to be accurate as the Gee-Gees came out flying in the third period. They scored just two minutes into the third period.
The Ottawa side kept up the pressure, launching attack after attack, but were ultimately frustrated by Stingers goalie Alice Philbert. The rookie made several game-saving stops, including a desperate, sprawling save with three seconds left on the clock to secure the win.
Another standout player was Stingers forward Claudia Dubois, who has been one the team’s best players this season. After leading the team in the regular season with 20 points, she had two assists in this series.
“We’re very happy with the way we bounced back after a tough loss yesterday,” Dubois said. “We really came together as a team, and we have the result to show for it. Playing against [Université de] Montréal in the final is going to be a challenge, but we’re all confident that we can get the job done.”
The pressure and intensity from this game was a far cry from the display on Saturday, as head coach Julie Chu pointed out following the win.
“The series overall was a great, and we’re thrilled to move on. A massive part of that was due to the fact that we just played with more desperation,” Chu said. “After the second game, we had to come back home and play as if it were our last game on Earth or else we would lose, because [Ottawa] definitely played with that mindset.”
The Stingers will now play against the Université de Montréal Carabins in the finals, a team they have played five times this season, with every game going into overtime or a shootout. The Stingers had a 3-0-2 record against them this season. The series will begin on March 1.
Main photo by Alex Hutchins.