High-energy Stingers force game three in final

force game three
Captain Marie-Joëlle Allard scored the game-winning goal in the second period. Photo by Kirubel Mehari.

Katherine Purchase returned in nets to make 19 saves in win

The Concordia Stingers women’s hockey team kept their championship hopes alive with a 3-2 win over the Université de Montréal Carabins on Saturday at the Ed Meagher Arena.

After a slow start that saw the Stingers only get three shots in the first period, the Stingers came out in the next two periods flying, controlling much of the play and fending off a late push from the Carabins.

After losing the first game, it was do or die for the Stingers in the best-of-three series.

“We had our backs against the wall. We didn’t have a choice,” said Stingers forward Audrey Belzile after the game. “We had to put everything on the ice. Every player’s mentality switched, and we wanted to show them that game one was not our best hockey. Today, we played our game instead of adapting to theirs.”

force game three
Forward Audrey Belzile assisted on Stéphanie Lalancette’s goal in the first period. Photo by Kirubel Mehari.

The Stingers grabbed the lead when Belzile flipped the puck over the stick of a Carabins defender, before firing a shot from one knee on Carabins goalie Marie-Pier Chabot. Stéphanie Lalancette was just in front of Chabot and managed to tip the shot over the goalie’s blocker for the first goal of the game, and her second of the final.

That was about as good as it got for the Stingers in the first, as they were swarmed by the Carabins for the rest of the period.

Out of the gate in the second though, the difference in energy level was night and day. Starting the period on the power play, the Stingers got into a rhythm, controlling much of the play and using their speed to match the physicality of the Carabins. Four minutes into the second period, defender Brigitte Laganière got a pass at the top of the circle and ripped a wrister over Chabot’s glove, giving the Stingers a two-goal lead.

“We don’t have to say a lot to fire up the team, especially against UdeM,” said head coach Julie Chu. “We get a lot of our energy from our forecheck, so we have to be relentless in those areas.”

It took the Carabins four minutes to respond to Laganière’s goal. Laganière fumbled the puck at the Carabins’s blueline leading to a two-on-one opportunity for the visiting team. Carabins forward Annie Germain carried the puck up the ice, and as the Concordia defender laid out to block the pass, she fired a shot just over the right pad of goalie Katherine Purchase to cut the lead in half.

Purchase returned to the crease after Alice Philbert got the start in game one of the series. Purchase stopped 19 of 21 shots.

Chu and Belzile both emphasized how Purchase motivates the team.

“There’s a reason that Kat is one of our captains this year,” Chu said. “That can be kind of tough for a goaltender to have that voice and have that presence, but that’s what Kat brings to that locker room.”

Stingers captain Marie-Joëlle Allard gave her team a 3-1 lead late in the second period with a power-play goal.

force game three
The Stingers’s shot chart. O represents the goals. By Matthew Coyte and Nicholas Di Giovanni.

The Stingers’s offensive zone pressure was highlighted by good puck movement and control down low, especially from Belzile who caused havoc for opposing defenders as she played her usual fast, physical, smart game. Belzile leads the team in points this playoffs with five.

Jessica Cormier scored the second goal for the Carabins five minutes into the third period, pulling her team to within one.

The Carabins pulled Chabot with 50 seconds left for the extra attacker, but were unable to tie the game as the Stingers threw their bodies in front of every shot. The late push was unsuccessful for the Carabins, and the Stingers forced the third and final game of the Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec (RSEQ) final.

This was the first game between the two teams this season that didn’t need extra time.

“It’s a relief to finally win one in regulation,” Belzile said. “We’ve proven now that we can beat them in 60 minutes, and we’re hoping to do the same tomorrow.”

The final game of the series will be played on Sunday, March 4 at 2 p.m. at Montréal’s CEPSUM Arena.

Main photo by Kirubel Mehari.

Related Posts