The number one ranked Concordia Stingers women’s hockey team’s season is over.
The Stingers lost 3-2 in game three of the RSEQ semi-finals to the Université de Montreal Carabins.
“It’s hard, we’re devastated for sure,” said head coach Julie Chu. “We always took it one game at a time, and we had belief that our team could go really far into nationals. But we also know that we play in the best conference in U Sports. To get out of our conference is always tough to do, especially against a great rival.”
The first period saw the Stingers start where they left things off after Saturday’s 5-3 game two win. They managed quality chances against the Carabins and were executing their zone entries perfectly. With four minutes left in the frame, Stingers captain Claudia Dubois wired home a one-timer to give the Stingers the lead.
— Concordia Stingers (@The_Stingers) February 23, 2020
In the second period, the Carabins flipped the script.
A power play goal four minutes in, and an in-tight goal with two minutes left in the period gave the Carabins all of the momentum.
Blaming the refs for a loss is never the answer, but it should be said that there were some extremely questionable calls on both teams. Take the Stingers tying goal for example. A seemingly innocent shot from Audrey-Ann Rodrigue squeaked past Carabins goalie Maude Trevisan, but the puck fell right behind the goalie, but never cleared the goal line and was clearly still in the blue paint (I asked four other media members who all said that the puck didn’t cross the line).
Chaos ensues after the ref calls the play dead, the refs convene at centre ice, the Stingers fans go crazy while waiting for the decision. The refs finally decided that the shot went in (it didn’t). It really seemed like the refs were peer pressured by the crowd to make that call.
Mix in some blatant missed calls on both teams, and you’re left with a game that wasn’t exactly decided by the refs, but their handprints are there. Chu has never been one to make excuses and that didn’t change after this game.
“It went both ways,” said Chu. “For us we always talk about controlling what we can control. The big part of what we do control is our ability to work hard, execute and do the little things really well. Unfortunately I think we got away from that a little bit.”
The Stingers struggled to generate momentum and chances in close against Trevisan. They were outshot 28-23 by the Carabins, and Stingers goalie Alice Philbert had to bail her team out a couple of times.
Shortly after tying the game up in the third period, the Carabins re-took the lead. A shot towards the front of the net took a strange bounce, the puck popped up and dropped right behind Philbert and into the net. Philbert would make 25 saves on 28 shots. Trevisan would make 21 on 23 shots.
Credit to the Carabins though, after getting outskated in game two, they came out and stuck to their game plan; heavy hockey. The Carabins won key puck battles, blocked a hell of alot of shots, forechecked hard and took advantage of their chances.
This ending is especially heartbreaking for Dubois. This was her last game in a Stingers jersey. The captain was lights-out all season and during this playoff series. Dubois is the defining player of Chu’s tenure as head coach. The same way Phil Hudon represented a new era of Stingers’ men’s hockey, Dubois embodied the winning culture that’s been built at Concordia over the past five years. The coach had nothing but praise for her captain post-game.
An emotional moment between women's hockey head coach Julie Chu and Claudia Dubois as she takes her final strides in maroon and gold.
— Concordia Stingers (@The_Stingers) February 23, 2020
“She’s the one who’s going to make me cry when she leaves,” said Chu. “When she came [into the program], we were still figuring out how to win, how to build a culture, how to take things to the next level. She’s a huge reason why we got to this next level. Every day, from when she came in as a first-year, to this last game, she’s given us everything. She’s prepared, she works, she wants to win, she’s gritty. For us, that’s become the core of who we are. She’s the one who leads the team and she’s the strongest voice in that locker room. We’re going to miss her.”
This is a disappointing finish for the team. Not many people would have expected a 2020 U Sports national championship without the number one ranked team. Despite this, this season was important for the Stingers.
“Our biggest thing is to hold our head up high,” said Chu. “It’s going to sting for a while, but that’s okay. When we care about what we’re doing, we’re passionate, we put in the time and effort, it’s going to hurt when we don’t get the results we want. We wanted [the team] to feel like they should be proud of everything they’ve given up. They’ve given into this program this year. We’re really proud of them.”
The Carabins will play the McGill Martlets in the RSEQ finals later this week. Both teams will also advance to the U Sports national championship taking place in P.E.I. in March.
- The Stingers have been the most exciting Montreal hockey team this year. It’s sad to see them end the season this way, but you’ll never hear anyone say that they didn’t put their heart into every single game.
- Claudia Dubois and defender Erica Starnino are the only fifth-year players on the Stingers. That means that most of the core that made the Stingers so deadly will be returning.
Feature photo by Britanny Clarke