Men’s hockey: Concordia, UQTR in U Sports top 10

Concordia Stingers men’s hockey vs. UQTR Patriotes at the Ed Meagher Arena, Nov. 19, 2022. Credit: KYRAN THICKE/ Concordia Athletics

Concordia and UQTR are the only two Quebec universities in the U Sports top 10 rankings

After two weeks at number 10 in U Sports rankings, the Concordia Stingers’ men’s hockey team has climbed up two spots this week and is now ranked eighth (rankings updated as of Nov. 22).

The only other Quebec university in the U Sports top 10 is the Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières (UQTR), ranked third.

Having won nine of their 14 games so far, the Stingers’ depth has allowed them to have a great first half of the season despite battling injuries.

“I think the fact that it’s not only one guy contributing, it’s the whole group, that makes it easier,” said Stingers’ head coach Marc-André Elément. “And [it’s] tougher for the other teams to play against us when a lot of the guys are contributing to the success.”

The Stingers’ goaltending depth was tested early on when their rookie starter Jonathan Lemieux got injured.

“Even when Jonathan was hurt, Jordan [Naylor] came in and he got a shutout last week,” Stingers’ captain Phélix Martineau said. “We’ve been pretty fortunate with what our goalies gave us so far.”

Lemieux, who has played 10 games so far, has a save percentage of .930, putting him fourth in the OUA, slightly ahead of the other Quebec university in the U Sports top 10.

The UQTR Patriotes’ starting goaltender Alexis Gravel’s .922 in eight games has him ranked sixth in the OUA.

Gravel has played in most of the Patriotes’ games, or dressed as the backup, except on three occasions — Nov. 4, 5, and 11.

“It was an internal decision in the hockey program,” said the UQTR Patriotes’ head coach Marc-Étienne Hubert on why his starter didn’t play on Nov. 4 and 5. Hubert declined to comment further on the situation.

Since his return against Concordia on Nov. 12, Gravel has started four of UQTR’s games, including two back-to-back games on Nov. 18 and 19, and backed up on Nov. 26. He continues a solid season with only one loss so far.

The Stingers’ statistic of 29 goals against allowed all season long doesn’t go unnoticed, as they are ranked second for this statistic. Only the University of New Brunswick has fewer goals against at 24.

“Everybody’s playing well,” Elément said about his team. “I think we’re probably one of the only teams that had three goalies playing in the regular season and we’ve been lucky that all the guys are contributing and playing well so that’s good for our program.”

He said that something the Stingers will look to improve on for the rest of the season is defensive-zone coverage and 5-on-5 offence.

Martineau also shared that it feels good to be rewarded by being in the top 10.

“We know we have a special group and I think that group can go far, so it’s just a matter of doing it now,” he concluded.

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