Only hard work will take Stingers back to nationals

Head coach Julie Chu expects players to give their best effort all season

A season after playing at the national championships, the head coach of the Concordia Stingers women’s hockey team, Julie Chu, knows only one thing can get them back there.

“We know the only reason we got [to nationals] was from hard work,” Chu said. “Nothing changes this year in our preparation. We’re going to expect our players to come in and give effort to be the best everyday.”

Last year, the Stingers finished in third place in the Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec (RSEQ) with a 10-9-1 record during the regular season. They upset second-place Université de Montréal Carabins in the semi-final, which qualified them for the national championship. In the RSEQ final, the Stingers lost to the first-place McGill Martlets.

At nationals in March, the Stingers made it all the way to the bronze-medal game where they lost to the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds, with a score of 2-0. The Stingers finished the season as the fourth-best team in U Sports.

On Oct. 11, U Sports listed the Stingers fourth in their pre-season rankings. But for Chu, until Concordia steps onto the ice, they haven’t proven anything.

The Concordia Stingers celebrate a playoff series win against the UdeM Carabins during the 2016-17 season. Archive photo by Alex Hutchins.

“It’s always nice to be ranked and be considered a top team, but we haven’t played a regular season game yet, so for me in all honesty, it doesn’t mean a lot,” Chu said.

The Stingers have been preparing for the start of their regular season since training camp began in August. The Stingers started their pre-season in September, with three wins in three home games against the Brock Badgers, the York Lions and the Queen’s Gaels.

“It’s always great to contribute offensively, but what was fun for [those three games] was that there were a lot of different people who contributed,” Chu said. “It wasn’t two or three people who were scoring the majority of the goals. It was spread out amongst the players.”

Rookie forward Vyckie Gélinas was one of the players who scored, with a goal against Queen’s. Chu said Gélinas is part of a group of first-year players on the team ready to contribute goals and offensive production. First-year forward Lidia Fillion also picked up an assist in that game, and she is a player Chu expects will make an impact both offensively and defensively with the Stingers this season.

“Fillion is doing a good job of shifting into playing at [the university] level, and she’ll continue to adjust to the speed of the game,” Chu said. “But she’s a tremendously smart player, so she knows how to play with and without the puck.”

Regardless of who the captain and assistant captains are, Chu said she wants all her players to be leaders. She also doesn’t want leadership to be limited to her forwards and defencemen.

“Even though Katherine Purchase is a goaltender for us, she has a big voice on our team. She has a great presence and will be a tremendous leader as well,” Chu said.

The coach added that the team’s ultimate goal this season is to win a national championship. But Chu said players have to focus on the small things first, like being great student-athletes and working hard for the team.

“We have to be willing to work hard everyday, set the tone and execute when it counts the most.”

The Stingers opened their season away against the Ottawa Gee-Gees on Oct. 15 with a 3-1 loss. Their next game is Oct. 21 at home against the McGill Martlets.

Main photo by Kirubel Mehari.

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