The Concordia Stingers ended the calendar year on a sour note, losing in the semi-final of the Montreal University Cup 5-1 to the Moncton Aigles Bleus on Dec. 31. The tournament was hosted by the Stingers and held at Sportsplexe 4 Glaces in Pierrefonds. Although the Stingers were the defending champions, they were considered to be major underdogs to defeat the squad from Moncton. Also hampering their chances at a repeat were three key players out with injuries: star forward Yannick Noiseux, top minuteman on defence Patrice Theriault, and veteran Luc Messier.
“We didn’t play our best hockey,” said captain Joey D’Amico, “We played a real good team and they played well, but I don’t think we played to our capabilities.”
The Stingers dug themselves a hole in the first period by allowing two goals in the first two minutes. Goaltender Trevor Cunning faced a barrage of shots early on as the Concordia defence were surprised by the size and speed of the Moncton forwards, especially six foot four centre Daniel Hudgin and six foot five right-winger Jean-Francois Cyr, who scored the second goal. “We didn’t execute the things we should have executed, and we got down early in the game. And without those key players it’s awful hard to make a comeback,” coach Kevin Figsby said.
In the second period, already down 3-0, the Stingers started to get into penalty trouble, something that had been rare during the regular season. With D’Amico in the box for a second time during the game, Moncton defenceman Christian Brideau scored a powerplay marker to increase their lead to four. “I think I took more minors in the last two games than I took all year,” D’Amico said.
Despite allowing four goals, goaltender Trevor Cunning made a few terrific saves to prevent the game from becoming a blowout. But with 10:22 remaining in the second period, coach Kevin Figsby removed him in favour of Patrick Lepage. According to Figsby, it was his plan to give both goaltenders equal playing time in the game, although he did not inform Cunning of his plan until after the visibly upset netminder left the game. “It would have been nice to have known before, but it was part of the game,” Cunning said.
Lepage proved to be equally as impressive as Cunning, allowing only one goal in a period and a half of work. Lepage was forced to make a quick right pad save off a Jean-Francois Laplante breakaway.
Laplante would get his revenge with four minutes remaining in the period, potting in a rebound to extend their lead to 5-0. The lumbering Stingers offence broke the shutout near the end of the second, with Fr