Lady Bees striving for championship

The Concordia Stingers women’s hockey team will be taking to the ice this Friday against the McGill Martlets without their captain and two assistant captains from a year ago.

Over the summer, the Stingers said goodbye to captain Kelly Sudia, all-Canadian defender Roxanne Dupuis, Marie-Helene DeBlois and Leanne McPhee, but are poised to repeat as QSSF champions this season. The Stingers will decide on a new captain before their game on Friday.

The team is still very similar to the group that went to the National Championships a year ago as Quebec champions.

“We have a young defence and a couple of forwards we have to replace. We’re still pretty solid with our forward lines but our defence has some work to do. It’s going to take us some time to get every one accustomed to the game, and it doesn’t matter too much because our goaltending is our real strength.”

The Stingers start off the 2005-06 season with three new defenders from a year ago, and could take some time to adjust. Bianca Chartrand, Lindsay McCusky and Victoria Johnstone are newcomers to the Stingers blueline, but Johnstone is a transfer from the University of Maine. Sophomore Esther Latoures is moving from forward to defense for this season to help out the new group. Marie-Pier Cantin-Drouin and Rose Healy are the lone returning players on the blue line.

“There will be an adjustment to be made for the new players, but with ice time in games, they should adjust without a problem,” Lawton said.

Among returning players are last year’s leading scorer, Dominique Rancour, back for a fifth and final season, Jodi Gosse, an assistant captain from a year ago who is also in her last year and scored last year’s clincher in game three of the QSSF championship, and star goaltender Cecilia Anderson, who was the second best goaltender in Canada from last year.

Head coach Les Lawton, back for his 24th season expects to see other veterans step up in an expanded role.

“All of our returning players need to step up this season, but Genevieve Dupuis is a fourth-year player who were looking for big things from. She played well over the weekend and her work ethic is outstanding. Emilie Larocque is another player who we’ll look for more offense from. She took on a defensive role in the past, which she did very well, but we’re looking to add some offense and Angela Di Stasi looked good over the weekend,” Lawton said.

The Stingers went undefeated this weekend in the three-day Marion Hillard invitational tournament at the University of Toronto. The Stingers tied their first two games 2-2 against conference rival Ottawa, and 1-1 against the host team Toronto, finally winning their third game 2-1 against the University of British Columbia.

Lawton says it gave some of the newcomers a chance to play at the next level, but says that it should take some time for the rookies to adjust to the speed and flow of the University game.

The return of Rancour and Gosse along with Janie Brassard means that the entire top scoring line is back for the Stingers.

Along with the newcomers on the blue line, the Stingers are going to be looking for key play from first-year forwards Mary Jane O’Shea and Elana August. Concordia has eight forwards returning from last season.

The Stingers may also have to cope with the fact that Anderson might get the call from her native Sweden to play in the upcoming Olympic Games, a decision that would be made at the end of December. Lawton says that this weekend’s tournament also gave him time to look at the depth they have in goal with backups Meggy Hatin-Leveillee and Catherine Boulay. Lawton said that he was impressed with the way they performed and says that goaltending, regardless who is playing, is a definite strength for the team.

Concordia takes on McGill at 7:30pm at McGill’s McConnell Arena on Friday. They return to the Ed Meagher Arena to play an exhibition game against Red Deer College at 12:15 on Saturday.


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