A roller-coaster season. A hard-fought and gritty run at the final playoff spot that came up short. A team that featured 16 rookies who came together to form one of the most exciting products on university ice last year.
These were the things that made last year’s Concordia men’s hockey team such a memorable one.
But that was then and this is now.
Not that much has changed since the Stingers finished their season in February. Except that 16 rookies have turned into 16 sophomores who went through just about every emotion a hockey player can face in one season.
In their first twelve games of the season the Stingers suffered six losses, four of which were only by one goal.
The team came around after Christmas by winning 6-of-8 matches in one stretch putting on impressive all-around team performances and showing some new-found chemistry.
Unfortunately they were eliminated from playoff contention in the second to last game of the season in a 5-3 loss at the hands of University of Three Rivers.
It was obvious that the frustrating start to the season played an instrumental role in the eventual outcome as they finished just shy of McGill for the final playoff spot.
“We’re stronger at the start of this season then we were last year,” said Figsby. “The key to our division is to start the season strong because the error of margin is very small.”
There isn’t a shred of doubt that the squad will be able to repeat, if not improve, on what was a strong offensive season last year where they tied for first in the division with 89 goals. The Stingers will also have most of their top scorers back for the season.
They do, however, suffer a tough loss with the departure of Chris Lyness, a versatile defenceman, who played a crucial role in Concordia’s power play last season.
Despite this, the team seems just as confident about their ability to go a long way this year.
“Most of our guys came back and I think we have a good chance at making a run at the national championship,” said last year’s number one goalie, Philippe Ozga.
The third-year goaltender, who faced nearly 35 shots a game last season, has dropped a couple of pounds and is looking to defend his starting job.
The other part of what looks to be a great tandem between the pipes is Chris Wilcox who was very impressive in limited action last year.
Making a return this year will be third year defenceman Michael Devereux who missed half of last season due to injury.
Figsby credits Devereux with bringing a different character and dimension to the team. “We got the same returning core we just got to hope we’re a little bit better and a little more experienced,” said Devereux. “We gotta to play as a team instead of showing up every now and again like we did last season.”
While it appears that the Stingers will be a force to be reckoned with, fueled by passion and determination, Figsby will be there to keep them on track.
“In my opinion we have a team with a lot of depth here and establishing a work ethic will determine how far this team is going to go.”