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Quebec’s best team ready for next year

by Archives March 20, 2002

Forget about football. Forget about basketball. Heck, you can basically forget about any other varsity sport because without a doubt, women’s hockey was the hottest sport at Concordia University in the 2001-2002 season. The only sports team to make it to the national championships, the Stingers had what can only be described as an outstanding season.
Concordia had quite a feat waiting for them in the fall of 2001. The roster included nine rookies, a number that many teams would have trouble dealing with.
Jessica Anderson, slated to be backup goaltender throughout the season, protected her net with a saving percentage of 91.4% and started most of the games in the second half.
Dominique Rancour surprised many with her small size: barely five feet tall with her skates on. Despite that, she was the number two scorer on her team with 23 goals and 20 assists, and was the only Concordia player named as all-star at the CIS National Tournament in Regina.
Although having a solid base of players, Concordia’s season did not go off without a bump or two. In fact, the Stingers began the season on shaky ground, losing two exhibition games in their first weekend. The following weekend saw the Stingers head down the 401 for the U of T tourney, in which they lost two of three games.
Then the improvement began.
The Stingers first of four games against the McGill Martlets was a 4-2 loss.
November staged Concordia’s comeback, where they had a 4-1-1 record.
The last game of November was also the last game before the winter break, which pitted the Stingers against the Martlets. With a real show of sportsmanship, the Stingers batted away an aggressive Martlet team to win 4-2, a victory that some considered as being the turning point in their season.
“It took us a while to get on track,” centre Anouk Grignon L’Anglais said. “After we beat McGill the first time, we just gelled together as a team and kept going strong from there.”
Concordia began 2002 with a bang, breezing through their round robin and semi-final games in order to win the prestigious Theresa Humes Tournament. From that point on, they dominated the QSSF, beating McGill for the second time in the first game of 2002 and were a constant presence in the CIS top five rankings.
The team was a notch away from excellence, undefeated since November 2nd but struggling at the beginning of every game. The Stingers’ timid defence progressively evolved and became a force, and other teams feared their explosive offence.
“We were great offensively and defensively,” coach Les Lawton said. “Our special teams were often overlooked, they did a great job at penalty killing and power plays.”
Concordia’s efficiency at all aspects of the game allowed them to win their final season game against McGill, a feat they would repeat in the following weeks.
Then came playoff time.
Concordia shutout McGill by a score of 2-0 in Game one.
Game two was a heart-stopper, with both teams chasing after the puck and tying the game 2-2 after 60 minutes of play. The game went into double overtime, where Stinger captain Lisa-Marie Breton netted the winner, giving the Stingers back-to-back QSSF titles..
That victory sent the Maroon and Gold to the CIS National Championship, a trip that they have made for the past four years.
But despite being ranked third after winning the QSSF title, the Stingers found themselves as the fifth seed, placing them in a pool alongside the University of Alberta and U of T, who were ranked first and second, respectively, in the previous week.
Despite leading early in both games, U of A won the round-robin game 5-2 and the Varsity Blues got the best of the Stingers the following day by a score of 2-1.
Refusing to let the losses get to them, the Lady Bees pulled out a comeback from a 4-1 slump in order to clinch the fifth place position over the St. Francis Xavier X-Women by a score of 8-4, a game played in pure Stinger fashion.
Despite the team’s worst placing ever at nationals, their final game played in Regina was a preview for things to come next season. Although they will be losing their captain, a player that simply cannot be replaced according to Lawton, the roster will essentially remain the same, with those rookies now having a year’s experience under their belts and veterans who simply keep getting better.
“We’ll basically be picking up where we left off,” winger Marie-Claude Allard said. “One thing’s for sure in my mind: we’re going for the gold at next year’s CIS Championship.”

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