Defending champions UNB too much for Concordia to handle
The Concordia Stingers men’s hockey team’s season finished Thursday night after a lopsided 8-1 loss to the University of New Brunswick (UNB) Varsity Reds in the U Sports nationals championship quarter-final.
With the disappointing loss in the books, Stingers head coach Marc-André Élement chose to look at the plus side after his program’s first appearance at nationals in over three decades.
“There’s a lot of positives for us,” Élement said after the game. “It took us 34 years, first time here. It’s huge for the program and it’s not going to take 34 years for us to come back, I can tell you [that].”
The quarter-final capped off day one of the eight-team tournament in Fredericton, N.B. UNB fed off the energy of a raucous crowd at the Aitken University Centre—their home arena—scoring early and often while limiting the Stingers to a total of just 17 shots on goal.
Varsity Reds forward Chris Clapperton kicked off the scoring nine minutes into the opening period, with assists going to forward Mark Simpson and defenceman Matt Murphy.
Simpson increased the lead to 2-0 for the home side less than three minutes later, netting an unassisted goal off an impressive solo effort.
He would find himself on the scoreboard once again before the end of the first period, getting the primary assist on a goal by defenceman Randy Gazzola with 30 seconds remaining before the intermission. U Sports rookie of the year Kris Bennett picked up the second assist on the goal, his first of three points on the night.
UNB’s dominant play continued in the second period. However, Stingers goalie Marc-Antoine Turcotte’s impressive play kept his team in the game, making several highlight reel saves while facing 18 shots. He finished the game with 30 saves.
Unfortunately for the Stingers, Turcotte was forced to leave the game after the second period. He took a puck off the mask late in the second period. Rookie back-up goalie Antoine Dagenais replaced him. Dagenais made 14 saves on 19 shots.
The Varsity Reds quickly took advantage of the goalie change. Bennett, and forwards Stephen Anderson and Matt Boudens each added power play goals within the first six minutes of the final period after Concordia took a string of penalties which resulted in two five-on-three opportunities for UNB.
After being contained by UNB’s tight defensive play for the majority of the game, U Sports regular-season scoring leader, and MVP, Anthony Beauregard managed to get his team on the board five minutes into the third, bringing the score to 6-1.
However, it was too little, too late for the Stingers. UNB picked up an additional pair of late goals to complete the rout with a final score of 8-1.
UNB’s Simpson and Concordia’s rookie forward Massimo Carozza picked up player of the game honours for their respective teams.
Élement also noted that he feels the team is actually ahead of schedule in their development.
“I’m really, really proud of our guys. Our program is headed in the right direction.”
Beauregard, the Stingers’s lone scorer on the night, also expressed pride in the team’s play of the team despite the loss.
“It was hard but at the end of the day I think my linemates did a good job today and all year,” Beauregard said. “We have a special group right there.”
Brad Ackerson is a reporter for The Brunswickan.
Main photo by Caroline Mercier, The Brunswickan.