The Concordia Stingers battled through a frantic, fast-paced 60 minutes of hockey only to go down in overtime 4-3 against the McGill Redmen in the annual Corey Cup game at the Ed Meagher arena last Friday.
The Corey Cup has been a Concordia and McGill tradition for the past 22 years. Two years ago, the contest was held in the Bell Centre. This year, the two teams battled it out in front of a packed home crowd, during Concordia’s student athlete appreciation night. Before the game, Concordia’s national championship baseball team were honoured with a special ceremony and the unveiling of the championship banner.
Despite the immense amount of school pride on display, the game started off on a bad foot when McGill opened scoring just 1:22 into the first period. Off an admittedly perfect tic-tac-toe play, the puck bounced off two sticks before Francis Verreault-Paul slid the puck into an empty net.
The goal didn’t do much to deflate the crowd, and the energy from the fans gave a tangible boost to the Stingers. Despite McGill being the faster team, Concordia kept up with the speed and threw in a few hard knocks for good measure. The Stingers used their physicality and intimidating strength to their advantage and made a target out of any McGill jersey. The sizeable line of Corey Garland, Nicolas Sciangula and Emile Bouchard played a big role in the game.
“That line played to perfection,” head coach Kevin Figsby said, “they executed the game plan flawlessly.”
The Stingers opened scoring 6:13 into the period, when forward Kyle Kelly tallied his ninth of the season.
Concordia took the lead shortly after, when rookie Daniel Michalsky took advantage of traffic in front of the net. The Stingers were up 2-1 going into the second.
Some marginal penalties and even more questionable goals were the story of the second period. Veteran Marc-AndrÃ© Rizk was called for a non-existent goaltender interference penalty, despite trying to avoid the McGill netminder who was playing the puck so far out of the paint that he was almost at the Stingers’ bench. The play was perfectly legal, especially considering Rizk cut across the ice at the last second to avoid contact. With him in the box, it took McGill all of 10 seconds to tie the game. Five minutes later, McGill scored again to take the lead 3-2. The goal was controversial, as Redmen Alexandre Picard-Hooper batted the puck in with an exaggerated over-the-shoulder swing which looked an awful lot like a high stick. But the officials deemed that when the puck crossed the line, Picard-Hooper’s stick was at the permissible below-the-shoulder height.
Concordia battled through the rest of the second and kept the game within reach. Halfway through the third, Stingers captain Marc-AndrÃ© Element netted the tying goal with assists from Brad Gager and Peter James Corsi.
With the game just 43 seconds into overtime, Picard-Hooper came back to haunt the Stingers and toe-dragged his way to the net, after a bad giveaway by the Stingers. McGill stole the game 4-3, though the Stingers deserved the win with their strong play and execution.
Figsby was happy with the way the team played overall, but was livid with the brief 43 seconds of overtime.
“I’m proud of the effort, the battle, and the level of competition of our team,” he said, “but in overtime, we got away from the game plan. We had to follow the game plan from start to finish, and we didn’t.”
The game plan consisted of a chip and wedge attack, rather than attempting to carry the puck into the McGill zone.
“You can’t carry the puck into the zone against this team,” he said. “All game, we followed that plan. Then in overtime, we fell apart and it cost us the game.”
Despite the disappointment, the Stingers have made the playoffs. They will face off against UniversitÃ© du QuÃ©bec Ã Trois-RiviÃ¨res on the road on Wednesday, before returning home to face them again on Friday, Feb. 19 at 7:30 p.m.