Stingers clinch spot in nationals with 3-2 win

stingers clinch
The Concordia Stingers celebrate their qualification into nationals. Photo by Alex Hutchins.

Captain Philippe Hudon continues playoff scoring streak with two goals

With a 3-2 win over the York Lions in the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) bronze-medal game on March 9, the Concordia Stingers men’s hockey team is going to its first U Sports nationals since 1984. Captain Philippe Hudon’s two goals, along with another from forward Scott Oke, will send the Stingers to Fredericton, N.B., for the national tournament from March 15 to 18.

“I wanted to go to nationals, and we’re going,” Hudon said after the win at the Ed Meagher Arena. “This team deserves to be [at nationals] more than anything else. We battled, and we got there somehow.”

The bronze-medal game featured the two teams that lost in the OUA division finals. The second-place Lions lost the West final to the fifth-place Brock Badgers in three games, while the McGill Redmen eliminated the Stingers in three games.

This bronze-medal game started with the kind of actionless hockey you would expect from two teams who just got eliminated from the playoffs a week ago. But Stingers head coach Marc-André Élement reminded his players just how fortunate they were to be in this situation.

“They were lucky to play hockey tonight,” Élement said. “There are other teams that are not playing. I also told [them] to just have fun.”

The Stingers and Lions haven’t played each other since November 2016, and it seemed like both teams were trying to figure each other out at the start. When Oke opened the scoring 12 minutes into the first period, it gave the game a boost of energy.

Concordia kept firing shots on Lions goalie Mack Shields, but York tied the game with five minutes left in the first, scoring on only their third shot. The second period didn’t feature much action either. During the second intermission, Hudon told his teammates a loss would spell the end of their season, and they had to win in order to keep playing.

“This may be our last period [of the season], and it was our last game [at home],” Hudon said. “We had an opportunity to rewrite history.”

stingers clinch
Captain Philippe Hudon scored two goals in the game. Photo by Alex Hutchins.

Hudon took it upon himself to write that history. He beat Shields with a powerful slapshot just nine seconds into the period. He scored the Stingers’s insurance goal midway through the third period, which virtually sealed their spot at nationals. In nine playoff games this season, Hudon has eight goals for 12 points—which is one point less than his regular-season total.

“The playoffs waken something in me that somehow is not present during the regular season,” Hudon said.

The Stingers head coach had high praise for his captain.

“He’s a playoff guy,” Élement said. “He’s a beast. He wants to be the best, and he is the best right now.”

Before the game, Stingers forward Anthony Beauregard was honoured for being named the OUA East Most Valuable Player on Thursday. Beauregard was also named an OUA East first-team all-star, along with defenceman Carl Neill. Neill also made the OUA East all-rookie team, joined by forward Massimo Carozza. The trio finished as the top three point-scorers on the Stingers this season and combined for 123 points.

“All three of them deserve their credits,” Hudon said about Beauregard, Neill and Carozza. “They distinguished themselves, and I’m very proud of them. These guys came in this year and they stepped up. They saw something bigger than just their own record, and they played for something big.”

Main photo by Alex Hutchins.

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