“We need to get back to basics.”
That is the message in the room after the Stingers lost their fifth game in a row on Saturday night. The Ontario Tech Ridgebacks, who blew a two goal lead in the final moments of the third period to McGill the night before, fought their way back to a scrappy 3-2 overtime victory over Concordia.
Head coach Marc-André Élement let out a big sigh of frustration before answering the first question from the media after the loss. He was not frustrated with his team, not with the officiating, and especially not with his goaltending, as Sébastien Lefebvre bailed his team out multiple times during the game.
On Saturday night, seven regulars were held out of the lineup due to injuries. Philippe Sanche, Alexander Katerinakis, Jeff de Wit, Jake Fletcher, Zachary Zorn, Mathieu Desautels and Anthony Dumont-Bouchard. That’s incredibly tough for any hockey team, let alone a university one that doesn’t have a farm team. Because of all the injuries, Élement was forced to ice seven defencemen and 11 forwards.
“[Fletcher and de Wit] got hurt after last night’s game,” said Élement. “We were waiting for the doctor’s report up until the game so we had to adjust the lineup. It’s not an excuse. Tonight we battled way harder than [Friday].”
If things weren’t bad enough, Chase Harwell had himself an injury scare on Saturday. Harwell blocked a shot in the second period and immediately went off favouring his right hand but the second year forward remained in the game and said it was nothing a little bit of ice couldn’t fix.
Injuries happen, it just sucks that we’ve had quite a few lately,” Harwell said. “We’ll be alright, it’s a little bit of an adjustment but it comes with [the game of hockey].”
Élement only tipped his hand towards a timeline on Sanche when asked, saying that he’s expected back sometime after Christmas. The captain of the Stingers last played on Oct. 18, when he broke his hand in the third period after blocking a shot.
The injuries kept piling on, and have caught up with the Stingers. Their last win came on Nov. 1 against UQTR. Since then they’ve lost five in a row while only scoring 11 times in those five games.
Even before the injuries started to accumulate, goal scoring wasn’t exactly a strength of this team. Through 14 games, the Stingers average under 3 goals a game, 2.69 to be exact, their lowest total ever.
Alexandre Gosselin, who scored his first goal of the season last night, was optimistic after last night’s defeat when asked about the team’s offensive output and its potential with a fully healthy lineup. Gosselin said he believes that they will be a much more dangerous team.
There were a lot of positives to pull from last night’s loss, despite falling further in the standings and the lack of goal scoring.
One of those positives was that the Stingers looked quite good on the powerplay despite only converting on one of their six opportunities, with most of the puck movement and opportunities being set up by the defence; something that Gosselin says is incredibly important for this team.
“We want to create more from the [defence],” Gosselin said. “We have the guys to do it. Neill, [Lalonde], Corbeil, Bilodeau. They are all offensive guys. If we use them more I think it’ll lead to more goals [which will] lead to more wins.”
Another bright spot is that the Stingers battled for a full 60 minutes. Consistent play has been an issue for this team and has no doubt made Élement’s head want to explode at times. Friday night’s performance against the last place Laurentian Voyageurs was an ugly one, to put it lightly. Players were coasting, perhaps with the mindset that it would be an automatic win. Well, it wasn’t and they had to come up with a rebound performance, if not for themselves, for the fans that come out every weekend to see them.
Saturday was a completely different story. Forwards were back-checking hard, defencemen were making smart decisions with and without the puck, and when mistakes were made, Sébastien Lefebvre was there to bail out his team.
“It was his third start of the season. He now has one win and two overtime losses, when he could easily have three wins,” said Gosselin. “It’s just a matter of details and not for him. For everybody.”
The Stingers have two regular season games left in 2019 so they will have ample time to get healthy and ice a full line up.
Concordia will head to Kingston next week for their second and final matchup of the season against RMC on Saturday night.
Photo by Cecilia Piga