Stingers sweep Ridgebacks in best-of-three series

Stingers sweep
Stingers captain Philippe Hudon scored the overtime winner to eliminate the UOIT Ridgebacks. Photo by Alex Hutchins.

Captain Philippe Hudon’s overtime goal sends team to second round for the second year in a row

The Concordia Stingers men’s hockey team eliminated the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) Ridgebacks from the first round of the playoffs for a second year in a row. After winning game one, 4-1, on Wednesday night in Oshawa, the Stingers swept the Ridgebacks with a 3-2 overtime win in front of a near-sold-out home crowd at the Ed Meagher Arena.

At the end of the first period, the Stingers were up 1-0 after forward Raphaël Lafontaine buried a rebound off defenceman Philippe Charbonneau’s shot from the point.

A little bit more than four minutes into the second period, Stingers rookie defenceman Carl Neill scored his first goal of the playoffs on a pass from defenceman Matthieu Desautels to put the Stingers up 2-0.

“I saw it developing a bit,” Neill said about the play that led to his goal. “I saw a hole, and I know [Desautels] has got really good hockey sense. I figured I may as well try it out.”

As time passed in the period, the game became more and more physical. With the Ridgebacks facing elimination, tensions began to rise.

Just a few minutes after Neill scored, Stingers forward and U Sports leader in points Anthony Beauregard was taken down in the corner by Ridgebacks defenceman Kyle Locke. Locke threw a few punches at the Stingers star player.

Since Locke never dropped his gloves, he remained in the game, and both he and Beauregard received roughing penalties. This drew some negative reactions from the crowd, but as head coach Marc-André Élement put it, it’s all part of the game.

“It’s hockey,” Élement said. “It’s playoffs, and he’s the top scorer in the league so for sure they’re going to have an eye on him, but it’s part of the game.”

As the second period was winding down, it seemed like the Stingers would be heading into the third with a 2-0 lead. With a little over a minute remaining in the period, Ridgebacks forward Mike Robinson scored a power-play goal to cut the lead in half.

The Stingers started the third period down a man for four minutes after Beauregard got called for spearing at the end of the second period. Concordia’s penalty kill gave UOIT few chances and helped maintain the team’s lead.

The period continued with a lot of back and forth, fast-paced and physical hockey. As the clock was winding down, the Stingers played conservatively to keep their lead. With a little under three minutes left in the game, Ridgebacks forward Jack Patterson scored to tie 2-2, sending it into overtime.

As the overtime period began, the Stingers came out with a new energy after the Ridgebacks dominated the third period. Just a few minutes into the period, Stingers forward Francis Brunelle managed to draw a hooking penalty to give his team a one-man advantage.

Stingers sweep
Stingers forward Francis Brunelle drew a penalty in overtime that led to the winning goal. Photo by Alex Hutchins.

With this power-play opportunity five minutes into the overtime period, Stingers captain Philippe Hudon scored on a backhand shot for the unassisted overtime game-winner, causing the Ed Meagher Arena to erupt into a thunderous applause.

“Honestly, I couldn’t hear anything,” Hudon joked following the game, “I was just so happy. I think I had more energy at the end when I scored than I did at the beginning of the game.”

The Stingers have won their last five games and are heading into the second round of the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) playoffs against the Queen’s Gaels next week. The Stingers lost to the Gaels in the second round of the playoffs last year.

Main photo by Alex Hutchins. Video by Kenneth Gibson, reported by Nicholas Di Giovanni.

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