Well, nothing lasts forever.
The Concordia Stingers women’s hockey team’s seven-game win streak wasn’t ended by either of their nationally-ranked cross-town rivals at McGill or Montreal. Rather, it came to an end against the now 2-5 Carleton Ravens in a 3-2 shootout loss.
Despite putting 47 shots on net, the Stingers were unable to beat Ravens rookie Marie-Eve Cote, who put on one of the best goaltender performances in the RSEQ so far this year. In net for the Stingers, second-year Madison Oakes made her first ever start for the team.
“We have a good goaltender group, and Alice has played a lot of minutes,” said Chu. “It’s time to get some other goaltenders experience too. I think that’s just a smart thing for us to do. Madi’s done a good job, this month especially at practice, and deserved the start.”
“We just needed to poke in a couple more there.”
If you just happened to stumble into the Ed Meagher Arena on this Friday night to watch this game, with no knowledge of either goaltender, you probably would have noticed that Cote was lights out as a rookie and that Oakes made more than a couple nice puck plays under pressure. Unfortunately for Oakes, her debut was spoiled by the Ravens.
“I think [Cote] made some tremendous saves,” said head coach Julie Chu after the loss. “They’re a good, hardworking team. They’ve had close games against pretty much everyone all season long, gone into overtime, shootouts. It’s understandable, we knew it was going to be a battle of a game.”
Is it weird to say that a team that got 47 shots on net wasn’t able to generate consistent chances throughout the game? The Stingers shot totals were ballooned by the double-overtime, but for the first two periods of this game, they didn’t test Cote nearly enough. Add in an extremely lucky break where a Ravens shot from the corner seemed to beat Oakes and bounce out of the net, that wasn’t called a goal, and you could feel that the Stingers didn’t play their best game. Chu echoed this sentiment post-game.
“Me personally, I didn’t think we had a good enough net-front presence,” said Chu. “I thought that we had some chances on the rushes that we got to bury, but in zone, we got opportunities, our net-front wasn’t great. We got to be better, especially if a goaltender is playing well.”
The Stingers managed to break the scoreless game with six minutes left in the third period when captain Claudia Dubois tipped a wrister from the point from Brigitte Laganière. While Dubois’ stick looked like it may have been above the crossbar, the goal stood, sending Ravens head coach Pierre Alain into a rage. The Carleton coach would only get more exasperated when the Stingers widened the lead 18 seconds later thanks to a rocket from the slot from Emmy Fecteau. Dubois and Laganière would both finish the game with two points.
A Ravens’ body checking penalty shortly after that second goal, and a bench minor thanks to Alain slamming the bench’s door over and over again would give the Stingers a 5-on-3 power play.
Normally, this would be where the Stingers add another goal and seal the game.
Not this time.
The Stingers power play woes ー which seemed to have dissipated in the previous couple of games ー returned all at once during the 5-on-3. After not being able to generate any chances for the full two minutes, both Ravens players popped out of the box, promptly received the breakaway pass, and Megan Wilson slid the puck through the 5-hole of Oakes.
Two minutes later, the Ravens pulled Cote for the extra attacker and really started to bear down on the Stingers. On the first face-off after a time-out by the Ravens, it was Wilson again who tied the game, walking into the Stingers crease without being touched. Suddenly, we’re back in familiar territory for the Stingers – overtime.
It was in the subsequent two overtime periods that Cote truly earned her win, making stop after stop on high-quality chances. It was only fitting that this would be decided in a shootout.
“Even though they had the time and space, they couldn’t quite get [the puck in] there,” said Chu of the shootout attempts. “Sometimes it’s like that.”
Both Emmy Fecteau and Claudia Dubois couldn’t raise the puck over the right foot of Cote, and Oakes was beaten twice. Suddenly and abruptly the Stingers perfect start to the season came to a screeching halt.
For Chu, the solution is simple: score.
“Now for us, it’s just finding a way to put pucks away.”
The Stingers face the McGill Martlets Nov. 24 at McGill.
- Madison Oakes didn’t deserve this loss, it was just that Marie-Eve Cote earned it more. 45 saves against the top team in the country. Wow.
- Eight games into the season, we’ve seen glimpses at what an elite power play this Stingers team might have, but so far, they’ve been objectively worse with the extra attacker so far this season. I imagine some scheme changes will be coming after the holiday break.
Photo by Cecilia Piga