Stingers’ 4-1 victory over McGill crowns Concordia RSEQ champions

Courtesy Concordia Stingers

The Concordia women’s hockey team sweeps the McGill Martlets to continue their undefeated playoff run.

The Concordia Stingers defeated the McGill Martlets 4-1 in the second part of back-to-back games after shutting them out 3-0 on Thursday. Concordia completed their second sweep and remain undefeated in the playoffs this year as they were crowned RSEQ champions on Friday.

The game started at a quick pace, with Concordia wanting to end the series, and McGill desperately trying to hang on.

The first goal came right after an offensive zone faceoff win by McGill. Stingers forward Rosalie Bégin-Cyr stole the puck, shooting it directly on net and giving her team a 1-0 lead with about six minutes left in the period.

The Stingers got their second penalty of the night shortly after, but their penalty kill did the work and goaltender Alice Philbert made all the necessary saves.

As Stingers forward Audrey-Ann Rodrigue was looking to clear the zone on the penalty kill, forward Emmy Fecteau was already in the neutral zone, collecting the pass from Rodrigue with a breakaway chance that developed into a 1-on-1. Her initial shot was saved by McGill goaltender Tricia Deguire, but Fecteau had joined her teammate just in time to score on the rebound, collecting a shorthanded goal and doubling the Stingers’ lead only a minute and a half after their first goal.

Concordia was handed three more penalties in the first half of the second period, which led to a powerplay goal by McGill forward Jade Downie-Landry.

It was McGill’s turn to be undisciplined in the second half of the frame, and Concordia forward Stéphanie Lalancette capitalized on the last second of a 5-on-3 with six seconds remaining in the period.

“Special teams are important in the postseason,” Stingers head coach Julie Chu said. “Obviously 5-on-5 too, but special teams are going to be the difference-makers when you have really good teams that are well-matched. So it was a good battle and I thought McGill had a really great game.”

Being up 3-1 with 20 minutes left to play, the Stingers played a defensive third period, while the Martlets were pushing to tie the game. The Stingers did everything they had to do, even pushing to get a bigger lead.

McGill pulled Deguire for the extra attacker with two and a half minutes remaining. However, Concordia stood tall as forward and captain Audrey Belzile scored an empty-net goal with a minute remaining, her last goal at the Ed Meagher Arena.

“It’s just incredible. After a year of COVID and the cancelled year, we came back a long way and we were ready for this year,” Belzile said. “And for all the graduating students, it was our last chance and I think we showed what this team is capable of.”

“All the girls worked so hard all year and winning this championship is everything […] I’m so proud of all of the girls,” Philbert said.

This was her second consecutive start after getting a shutout in their previous matchup. On Friday, she added to her exceptional season by allowing only one goal on 35 shots.

There was no doubt for Chu that Philbert was going to get both starts.

“She’s our goaltender and she’s proven it not only at practices every single day, and the way she pushes, but in the way that she’s competing and playing in games, so she’s going to get the nod,” Chu said.

It was bigger than just a championship for Philbert, who also got to celebrate and share the moment with her sister Léonie, who plays defence for the Stingers.

“We lost our grandmother two weeks ago, and before she passed away she told us ‘Go win it for me,’ and I know she’s been with us during those moments for the last few weeks,” Alice said. “And I’m really happy for my sister. She went from playing forward to defence and was injured for half of the season, so I’m really proud of her and everything she’s accomplished.”

Chu said it’s been a journey for everyone, from the staff and coaches, to the student-athletes, especially.

“All the pressures that they’ve had to go through, all the ups and the downs and the disappointments, to get to this point and work hard and have this final result is really awesome and we’re really pumped that we got a chance to win at home, which is special because that crowd is amazing,” Chu added.

The arena couldn’t have been any louder as “We Are The Champions” blared through the stadium and the girls celebrated on the ice.

Having hoisted the Dr. Ed Enos championship trophy, the Stingers will now be headed to the national championship at the University of Prince Edward Island in Charlottetown, PEI. Teams will compete for the Golden Path Trophy, which is presented annually to the U Sports women’s hockey champions.

 

Photograph by Kyran Thicke 

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