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Healthy and happy new year for the Stingers

by Matthew Ohayon January 7, 2020
Healthy and happy new year for the Stingers

The Concordia Stingers men’s hockey team can have some fun in 2020, as a treat.

If their game on Jan. 4 was any indication of what the second half of the season is going to look like for the Stingers, then the players, coaches, and fans are in for a wild ride.

We’ve been over this before: the first part of the season for the Stingers was tough. There were 16 games plagued with injuries, bad bounces and a complete lack of goal scoring.

Things are seemingly turning a corner, though. On Jan. 4, they played with a healthy lineup for the first time, minus a banged up Marc-Antoine Turcotte, since shit hit the fan and the injuries started to pile up back on Oct. 18, 2019 when they played the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks.

Philippe Sanche, one of the three players who sustained injuries that game, reflected on the first part of his team’s season after Saturday night’s 8-7 overtime victory against the Ottawa Gee Gees.

“When things don’t go your way, maybe you grip your stick a bit too tight,” said Sanche. “We were trying too much, not scoring goals and forcing plays. I think [tonight] the boys were just happy to be playing hockey. It’s a fun game so we want to have fun out there.”

Tyler Hylland, who was doing the heavy lifting in terms of scoring for the Stingers, was giddy after Saturday’s game. I mean, how could you not when you go coast-to-coast and finish off the play with a between-the-legs goal?

“We were definitely at our best offensively,” Hylland laughed. “We can’t be playing every game like that; we gave them a lot that we probably shouldn’t have. But like I said on [the last time we played] Ottawa, with this lineup, we match up with any team in the league.”

This game could be a defining moment in the Stingers’ season. They were just able to keep their heads above water in the OUA East playoff race, amassing 15 points in 16 games. The most important thing to note about the first part of the season was that they never shied away from being held accountable.

Through many conversations with Hylland, Chase Harwell, and Carl Neill, they never felt sorry for themselves or blamed their situation on the injuries. They felt they were just not playing well enough to consistently win games. Now, it is evident that with the fully healthy lineup, they are a much more energized and confident team.

“It was definitely a huge boost of confidence. Everyone gave it all they had before Christmas but it just didn’t go our way,” said Neill. “Playing with all the guys does something to your confidence and the whole mental side of it.”

On top of Sanche, Alexander Katerinakis, and Zachary Zorn being back in the lineup from injuries on Saturday, the team had two newcomers: Félix Lauzon and Jéremy Diotte.

Lauzon spent his last season of junior hockey playing with the Drummondville Voltigeurs of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL). Lauzon not only played with the likes of NHL prospects Joe Veleno, Maxim Comtois and Pierre-Olivier Joseph, but he was also a stand out performer for the team. In that same season, Lauzon put up 80 points and was given the Guy Carbonneau Trophy, which is awarded to the QMJHL’s best defensive forward.

Félix Lauzon lines up for a faceoff against Jacob Hanlon of the Gee Gees

Best defensive forward. In a season where he put up 80 points. 80. Eight zero.

Yeah, I think the Stingers found themselves a gem.

Lauzon was not fully healthy on his Stingers’ debut on Saturday but he still received high praise from his coach and teammates for his effort.

“He was really good on faceoffs for us and really good defensively,” said head coach Marc-André Élement. “He’s going to be really good for us. He’s a complete centreman and will be a very important part of our team.”

Speaking of important parts of the team, Turcotte is still ailing with an undisclosed injury. But Élement did give an update on his starting goaltender’s status, saying he is “day-to-day.”

The Stingers have a tough stretch of games ahead of them, with just four home games left on the schedule. It’s no secret that the Stingers still have a ton of work left to do. But they can rejoice in the fact that they are once more a full, healthy line up.

“We have a lot of work to do, a lot of video to review especially after a game that [we gave up 7 goals],” said Element. “Right now, I’m just happy and it was really fun to see the guys back and [healthy].”

 

Photos by Cecilia Piga

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