When the 2004-05 season started for the Stingers men’s hockey team, it was expected to be a year of transition. Most of the high-impact forwards had returned, but the defence was considered to be quite green. After a rough pre-season, the team was slow out of the gate, and it looked like the team may not have been ready for prime-time.
By the end of the season, this team was a different beast altogether. Where there was trepidation and timidity to start the season, the team became a well-oiled machine; through teamwork and effort the Stingers finished the season six games over .500. Any other year it would have guaranteed a division title, but in the most competitive division in CIS hockey, the OUA East, the Stingers had to battle and scrape for every point they earned.
It was endearing to see that, instead of lamenting the difficult circumstances they were in, the team became even more united and even more confident. How many times did we see, when all appeared hopeless, someone would emerge as a hero? To fans, this team gave us so many memorable moments that personify determination. A standout moment from the playoffs came when forward Matt Chafe drew an important powerplay with only two minutes remaining in game three versus Ottawa, simply by out-hustling everyone on the ice.
It was those contributions, from every player, that made this team so likeable.
It was also the year that Joey D’Amico became the leader of the team. If he wasn’t rooting for his team from the bench, he was getting it done on the ice. In the playoff series against Ottawa, D’Amico scored two very timely unassisted goals that not only rejuvenated his squad, but got the crowd believing the team could win.
If there was one game that marked a turning point for the Stingers, it would be the Jan. 7 game against RMC. In what has become a nasty rivalry, the team put aside everything that occurred before the New Year, and clobbered the Paladins. This was the game where Jonathan Gautier emerged as a top offensive weapon in the CIS, and from this game on went on an unbelievable tear. But it was in the final moments of the game that the team turned the corner. The Paladins had been playing dirty all night, and finally tough guy Colin Scotland had seen enough and retaliated.
A brawl ensued, and numerous players were ejected, including Scotland who got a four-game suspension. It was an ugly incident, but the Stingers were a different team afterwards, going 5-2-1-1 the rest of the way.
It was also the season where the Stingers proved they could beat the UQTR Patriotes. Concordia was without some of their best players for a considerable amount of time, including Yannick Noiseux, Luc Messier, Andrew Davis and Philippe Paris, but the team showed remarkable depth and poise as other players took advantage of opportunities.
Most of the team expects to be back next year, and if the team can remain healthy, a division title should be in the cards.