Montreal 2, Concordia 1 (3OT): Stingers dominate play but fall short in marathon game

The Stingers came into game one of the RSEQ playoffs having been ranked as the number one team in the nation for effectively the entire season.

But matched up against the Université de Montréal Carabins, that ranking didn’t mean they weren’t going into a tight, closely matched, dangerous series. Every game between the two this year (outside of a 4-0 Concordia win) came down to a single goal, including a shootout finish in one game and a double overtime in another.

This game managed to top just how close this year’s matchups were, coming down to the wire in triple overtime as the Stingers fell to their cross-town rivals.

For head coach Julie Chu, the mentality that will get them through is the same mentality that got them into first place: not worrying about anything that’s behind them.

“All season long, the biggest thing we’ve always talked about is that we’re just focused on one game. Whatever rankings were before that doesn’t matter,” said Chu. “[The first place ranking] feels nice, awesome […] [but] we just focus on whatever’s in front of us, and that’s the next game. For us the biggest thing is what are we gonna do the next game. From now, get a good night’s rest, wake up, take a deep breath and be excited it’s a three-game series and we have the opportunity to fight back again.”

While it may not be the result the team wanted, they certainly won’t have any complaints about their effort or the way they played. They came at the Carabins like the top team in the league.

Through five complete periods of play and a few minutes of a sixth, the Stingers dominated. The game was without goals until the third as both team’s goalies stood strong, but regardless of the score, the play was almost entirely under the control of the Stingers.

They heavily outshot Montreal, killed them in puck possession and generally looked more dangerous all night. When Montreal would break out with the puck, the Stingers would crush the hopes of any oncoming rushes with calm preciseness and turn the attack the other way.

A collection of posts was one issue that their production faced but, more importantly, some controversial no-goal calls hit them. The Stingers looked to have scored go-ahead or game-winning goals at least three times, including two such non-markers by captain Claudia Dubois.

Each was waved off. One in particular, Dubois’ second called-off snipe, this time in overtime instead of the last minute of the third, looked to have beaten the Carabins netminder clean and players and fans alike celebrated until the referee called for a faceoff.

The team wasn’t ready to go off on the referees for this, but took a ‘play through it’ mentality and took the hand they were dealt without complaint.

“There’s a lot of possibilities of what could have been a goal but we can only control what’s in front of us,” said Chu. “What’s in front of us is ‘okay the goal’s not called, okay let’s line up and be great the next shift.’”

Despite the lack of scoring—until Emmy Fecteau scored on the powerplay in the third and Montreal tied it with under four minutes to play—both teams kept their energy high and seemed to be taking the game positively. As tight at the game was, no frustration got through visibly when it came to not finding the back of the net.

“The energy on the bench was awesome. They were positive, focused and ready to go,” said Chu of her players.

Now the Stingers are in a position to regroup, as Chu said. It’s not so much a matter of major adjustments as coming back with a good mentality and positivity despite the loss. A win in game two on Saturday afternoon would force a winner-take-all game three at Concordia. The Stingers played the far better game of the two teams and if they bring the same level of play next game, they’ll be putting themselves in a great position to come out on top this time.

“We played great hockey tonight,” said Chu. “Sometimes it doesn’t always equate in a win. We know our players have a lot of fight in them, they have a lot of character in that room. They’ll reset, refocus and be ready to go on Saturday.”


Photos by Cecilia Piga

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