Queen’s Gaels battled back from 3-0 deficit to sweep playoff series
The Concordia Stingers men’s hockey team fell short in a 5-4 double overtime thriller to the Queen’s Gaels. This put an end to the season for the Stingers as the Gaels win the best-of-three series 2-0.
Just over six minutes into the game, captain Philippe Hudon scored to give the Stingers an early lead. The momentum carried on throughout the period, where the Stingers outshot the Gaels 12-3 in the first period.
The beginning of the second period started similarly, as the Stingers got another early goal from Hudon, who tipped a Philippe Sanche shot in on the powerplay to make it 2-0. Only 30 seconds later, Charles-Éric Légaré beat the Gaels goalie by putting a perfect pass by Brendan Hamelin into the net.
However, just under a minute later, the Gaels got onto the board to cut the lead to 3-1. This didn’t stop the Stingers from controlling the game, as midway through the second period, the momentum changed.
The Stingers failed to convert on a 5-on-3 that lasted nearly two minutes. The momentum changed from that point, and the Gaels got a powerplay goal to cut the lead to 3-2 before the second period ended.
“Not scoring on the five-on-three gave them momentum. Had we scored, it would have been different,” said head coach Marc-André Élément. “They did a very good job and gained momentum.”
“[The Gaels] played it really well but it isn’t really acceptable in the playoffs to not score on a 1:30 5-on-3,” said defenceman Carl Neill.
Opening the third, the Gaels left off where they finished the second, scoring only 19 seconds in to tie the game. They then proceeded to grab the lead less than two minutes into the third period with another quick goal.
The pressure on the Stingers’s backs was intense but they managed to remain calm. Sanche tied the game with eight minutes to go in regulation to send the game into overtime.
Despite a strong overtime period by the Stingers, they were unable to score. The game went to the second overtime, where the Gaels scored a minute into the period to put the Stingers’s season to bed.
After the game, the team and fans cheered and thanked captain Hudon for his five years with the team. He was the first captain to take the Stingers to nationals last season. In his final game, Hudon went out with two goals and an assist. “He carried the team tonight and even last game,” said Neill on Hudon’s final performance. “Playoffs are really his thing.”
“He has been one of the best captains to wear the C on his jersey; he is up there with Olivier Hinse,” said Élément on his captain. “It is because of those guys that we were able to change the identity and culture of the program. I just told him he left a big, big footprint and I’m very proud of what he accomplished.”
An emotional Hudon came out to talk about his time as a Stinger after his final game. “It is certainly the end of an unbelievable chapter,” said Hudon. “It’s not about the sheer number of years I’ve been here; it’s about what developed over the years.”
Hudon will be missed as the team looks to the future but he hopes that his leadership on the ice sticks with the young leaders of the team. He is currently waiting to see if he will have a future in hockey over the next few months.
“If there is one thing I want my teammates to take from me, it’s certainly not the vocals, as I’m not a vocal guy. However, it would be to work hard to the very last second,” said Hudon.
Another player who likely played his last game in a Stingers uniform is forward Légaré, who is hoping to forego his final year of OUA eligibility to play pro in Europe.
On his time at Concordia, Légaré said, “I really enjoyed it. It has been the best four years of my life so far and it passed by so fast.”
The Stingers will come back next year with a young group led by many second and third year players.
Main photo by Hannah Ewen.