The Concordia Stingers women’s hockey team had a good start against the no. 1 ranked McGill Martlets, but allowed four straight goals in their season opening 4-2 loss on Friday night.
The Stingers, showcasing their new look lineup with five first-year players and two players starting their first full season with the Stingers with Emilie Luck and Devon Rich, who didn’t play against the Martlets.
Concordia couldn’t imagine a better start, scoring on their first shot when Tawnya Danis punched the puck by Canadian national team member Charline Labonte. One of the Stingers’ rookies, Donna Ringrose, playing with Danis and fourth-year player Angela Di Stasi picked up an assist along with Di Stasi.
Less than six minutes later, Victoria Johnstone picked up a loose puck after serving a hooking penalty and went on a breakaway all alone and beating Labonte high glove side to give the Stingers an early 2-0 lead.
The turning point might have been just 30 seconds after that goal, when McGill’s Rebecca Martindale flew down the left wing, and dropped the puck to a trailing Vanessa Davidson who put a low shot by Concordia goaltender Meggy Hatin-Léveillée. After that, it seemed that the number one team in Canada found their legs and dominated Concordia in the offensive zone. McGill added goals from Valerie Paquette and Jasmine Sheehan in the second period and Shauna Denis added one in the third. Sheehan’s game-winning goal is one that especially didn’t sit well with Concordia. Sheehan caught a loose puck, put it down and floated one over Hatin-Léveillée in one that the goaltender would have wanted back.
That goal aside, the game would have been much more out of hand had Hatin-Léveillée not played as well as she did. She made 41 saves in the game, compared to Labonte’s 10. The Martlets outshot the Stingers 45-12 overall, including a 12-2 advantage in the second period.
McGill’s advantage might very well have been that they have had more game experience than the Stingers. The Martlets played five exhibition games, including winning the Marion Hilliard tournament held at the University of Toronto by beating the Alberta Pandas in the final. Concordia had not played a single pre-season game aside from controlled scrimmages as they continue to prepare and get into game shape.
“The only way to get into game shape is to play games,” Concordia head coach Les Lawton said. “It doesn’t matter how hard you practice, but you have to play games and I feel that they had more energy towards the end of the game,” he said.
“Getting into game shape comes with time,” said Stingers captain Andrea Dolan. “We have a lot of freshmen and our goal is to improve enough throughout the year to compete in February for a trip to Nationals,” she said.
The Stingers play their next game on Saturday against the no. 7 ranked Ottawa Gee-Gees who ousted the Stingers from the playoffs three of the last four years, including a three-game series a year ago in the QSSF semi-finals. Puck drop is at 2:30 at the Ed Meagher Arena.