Sometimes, you can just feel something in the air.
And as the extreme Montreal winds were busy blowing away delayed trick-or-treaters, the U Sports gods were setting the stage for the next chapter of what’s become one of the best rivalries in U Sports women’s hockey. The two top teams in the country clashed as the #1 ranked Concordia Stingers battled the #2 ranked Université de Montreal Carabins women’s hockey teams.
Both teams came into this game undefeated at 3-0. Both teams have fielded some of the strongest lineups in the country over the past couple of years. It was only two seasons ago that the Stingers raised the RSEQ championship on UDEM’s turf.
“We’re a really well matched team against each other and it’s been really fun,” said head coach Julie Chu. “Two years ago we had eight games against them playoffs included, and six went to shootout or overtime. It’s pretty crazy. That’s what we’re expecting for the rest of the season.”
The Carabins were the first to strike. Working the power-play, UDEM beat Stingers goalie Alice Philbert off a deflection blast from the slot courtesy of Marie-Pier Dubé with just over 11 minutes left in the first period.
What followed was a back-and-forth battle fought in the neutral zone, both teams struggling to gain momentum. The Stingers finally responded off of a dangle from captain Claudia Dubois, who fought off two Carabins defenders before quickly ripping the puck over the shoulder of Carabins goalie Aube Racine. Racine finished the game with 30 saves on 34 shots.
In the second period, the Stingers cost themselves a pair of goals. The first started off a bad turnover as the Stingers were leaving their zone. The Carabins’ Joannie Garand ripped a shot past Philbert and sent her water bottle flying in the process. The second came on the powerplay, where a miscommunication in the offensive zone left a Carabins penalty-killer all alone for a breakaway that beat Philbert high. Philbert finished the game with 29 saves on 32 shots.
For us, we always talk about never quitting,” said Chu. “The greatest that any of us can have is resilience. We’re going to go through a lot in a season, we’re going to be down goals, we’re going to be up goals, we have to be resilient enough to bend a little but not break, and that’s what this team is showing.”
However, the Stingers responded both times. Thirty seconds after Garand’s goal, Olivia Atkinson scored her first of the year on a tap-in play to tie the game up. As the Stingers went down the second time, it was Marie-Pascale Bernier who answered, firing a bullet from the slot, top shelf.
With a game this close, of course it would go to overtime. Sorry, I meant to say double overtime.
This is the second time in four games the Stingers have played 65 or more minutes.
As the second overtime period began, it was clear that both teams were taking chances. But it was the rookie Emmy Fecteau for the Stingers that managed to put the game away on a great pass cross-crease from Rosalie Begin-Cyr. This was Fecteau’s first goal of the season. Chu talked about how she is happy with how the rookie has been playing so far this season.
The top two teams in the country didn’t disappoint in this thriller. The shots leaned more towards the Stingers, who managed more high-danger shots on net, but costly turnovers and bad breaks evened things out for the Carabins.
“Our league is so tight,” said Chu. “We’re gonna have to go into overtime, shootouts or different scenarios.It’s going to be like this all season long, and what we keep telling our players is to stay in the moment and to work hard and take our opportunities where they come.”
The Stingers next game is against the McGill Martlets on Nov. 8 at the Ed Meagher Arena
- CEPSUM is a pretty sick rink with incredible acoustics and a really cool football-stadium-esque feel and white tiled roof. I wish more arenas would have the really distinct features, makes “home rink advantage” feel like it matters.
- UDEM’s power-play song is the Imperial March from Star Wars, and honestly, it fits.
- This was my first game using this new shot tracking tool by Robyn Scholz. It’ll get tweaked as the year goes on, but it’s working great so far.
Photo by Matthew Coyte.