McGill is one game away from finishing Concordia’s hockey season
McGill trounced Concordia 9-2 in the first game of the first round of the Ontario University Athletics playoffs. The three-game playoff series began with the Stingers worst post-season loss since the 2006-2007 season, where the Redmen defeated them 8-0 in the OUA quarterfinals.
“We didn’t play to our identity,” said head coach Marc-Andre Element. “We’re a hard working team and we tried to play skilled against a team that has more skill than us. Now we know the second season has started and we gotta be ready for Friday. If you want to win the best out of three series you have to win two games so it’s really not done.”
The first period was an evenly matched game, with McGill getting the higher quality scoring chances. Stingers goaltender Miguel Sullivan was repeatedly called upon to make critical saves and was equal to the task.
“[Sullivan] played great,” said Stingers captain Olivier Hinse. “He’s confident right now. He’s stopping the puck for us. He can’t do it all by himself and we have to be there for him. I like the way he plays and I like what I see so I know he’s gonna be ready as well for game two.”
“Well, I did what I could, you know,” said Sullivan post-game. “I tried to battle through it. They came out strong and they’re a pretty skilled team. If you give them a little bit of room they’re gonna take it.”
Eventually, McGill did take advantage as forward Mathieu Pompei made a move on Concordia defenceman Philippe Charbonneau and fired the puck off the post to give the Redmen a 1-0 lead.
Concordia got an opportunity on the powerplay four minutes later but were unable to generate any scoring chances. In fact, when Stingers forward Frederick Roy went off for an interference penalty two minutes later, it was the excellent play of the Stingers penalty-killing unit that generated momentum for the team. As Roy stepped out of the box, he latched onto a loose puck and headed down the ice on a 2-on-1 with Stingers forward Philippe Hudon. Roy made a saucer pass to Hudon who Redmen goaltender Jacob Gervais-Chouinard moving laterally and tied the score at 1-1.
However, the Stingers would surrender the lead within the last two minutes of the period. A shot from Redmen defenceman Samuel Labrecque was blocked, but the puck squirted into the slot and was pounced on by McGill forward Patrick Delisle-Houde, who buried it high-blocker side on Sullivan to put McGill back out in front 2-1 to end the period.
The second period was all McGill. Concordia were unable to break out of their zone as the Redmen defense held strong.
Later in the period, with both teams playing at 4-on-4, Pompei drifted into the middle from the right side, dropped the puck to McGill defenceman Dominic Talbot-Tassi and he fired a well placed wrist-shot past a screened Sullivan to restore McGill’s two-goal advantage.
Talbot-Tassi would strike again before the end of the period. After a sprawling defensive pokecheck to break-up a Concordia 2-on-1, he re-launched the Redmen attack. After McGill forward Frederic Gamelin received the puck on a 3-on-2 in the middle of the ice, he gave the puck to Talbot-Tassi who was all alone in front of Sullivan. His backhand shot extended Mcgill’s lead to 5-2 going into the third.
The situation looked bleak for Concordia starting the last period and they did themselves no favors. Early in the period, McGill forward Rock Regimbald passed the puck to Redmen forward Simon Tardif-Richard. After his initial shot was blocked, he corralled the rebound and beat Sullivan along the ice to make it 6-2 McGill.
“I thought we just stuck to it and really played a full sixty minutes which is what we were looking to do,” declared Redmen head coach Kelly Nobes.
Following the lopsided scoreline, the physical play intensified even more as Concordia tried to set the tone for the rest of the period and possibly for the remainder of the series. Roy and Gamelin went after each other for an entire shift, culminating in cross-checks and punches being thrown along the boards. Roy received a two minute minor for instigating, a five minute major for fighting and a game misconduct while Gamelin ended up with a minor for roughing.
The Stingers gave up three more goals in the period, one to Lalonde and two to Redmen forward Jonathan Bonneau to bring the score to 9-2. As the period progressed, the physicality continued as numerous scrums broke out over the last ten minutes of the third. Sullivan was replaced by Robin Billingham after the seventh goal.
Sullivan believes that amnesia is a good way to get prepared for game two. “Well, we try to keep the midnight rule,” he said. “By midnight you forget about it. Tomorrow’s a new day, we go back to work and get ready for Friday and do what we can. Try to stay positive and get ready.”
“It’s easy. We just want to beat them,” Hinse said. “If you’re not motivated then just don’t come to the rink. It’s easy like that. It’s playoff hockey. If you’re not ready, you’re not gonna win and I know guys are gonna show up. We’re a bunch of guys that work hard and never give up so I’m not afraid that we’re gonna be there and be ready for game two.”
Concordia and Mcgill face off in game number two Friday, Feb. 19 at the Ed Meagher Arena.