The Stingers’ women’s hockey team pulled out a victory in Game 1 of the RSEQ semi-finals on Thursday
The Ed Meagher Arena was rocking from the get-go for Game 1 of the Stingers’ best-of-three series. Many Concordia student-athletes were in attendance, setting the atmosphere in the building all night by chanting loudly and booing the Gaiters any chance they got.
“The crowd was the real MVP of this game,” said Stingers’ defender Alexandra-Anne Boyer, who scored the game-winning goal in the second period. “Getting into the other team’s head, encouraging us, getting us pumped. It was insane. I loved it.”
Stingers’ head coach Julie Chu agreed that the crowd was a big advantage for her team.
“It was special to see our student section really come out,” she said. “The different teams, the different people around the community that came out to support our players. I think that was a difference-maker for us as well.”
It was a very tight game from the start. The fourth-place Gaiters came to play, and they proved that the first-place Stingers will have to work hard to beat them.
The teams traded power-play goals in the first period. Concordia forward Rosalie Bégin-Cyr blew the roof off of the arena by opening the scoring off a feed from forward Emmy Fecteau. Less than a minute later, Gaiters’ defender Marie-Camille Théoret blasted a point-shot past Stingers’ goaltender Alice Philbert to tie the game at one.
“Scoring the first goal helped calm down the younger players,” Bégin-Cyr said. “We were getting shots. It was just a matter of putting the puck in the net,” she added. Bégin-Cyr finished the game with a goal and two assists.
Concordia took the lead for good in the second period, when Boyer took a shot from the boards. It found its way through traffic and beat Gaiters’ goaltender Aglaé René de Cotret, putting the Stingers on top 2-1.
“There was a little hole and I saw it,” Boyer said. “I heard someone say ‘shoot’. I had an incredible screen. I took the shot and, showtime!”
The Stingers did not slow down in the third period. Concordia forward Justine Yelle extended the lead to 3-1 as she skated around a Gaiters’ defender and tucked it home on the backhand. Second-year forward Jessymaude Drapeau added two power-play goals to punctuate the 5-1 victory.
“We’ll celebrate it tonight,” Bégin-Cyr said. “Tomorrow, we’ll re-focus for Saturday.”
Although it was a one-goal game until midway through the third period, Chu was not bothered since the Stingers were still getting scoring opportunities.
“Early on, we had some chances. We hit a couple of posts. We had a chance in the second that was a wide-open net that we found a way to miss,” Chu said. “I think it’s really easy… to think about what we missed versus focusing on what we can do on our next shift.”
Even after winning a national championship, the Stingers were excited to win Game 1 of the playoffs.
“The national championship [was] a long time ago,” Chu said. “We actually haven’t talked about last year’s team… Now, we’re just thinking about Game 1 and giving our best there and now they’ll enjoy this.”
She added that it’s no use to compare themselves to last year’s team. All they can do is compare themselves to this year’s team and focus on how they can improve.
The Stingers are now one win away from advancing to the RSEQ final. Game 2 of the semi-final will take place at Bishop’s University on Saturday, Feb. 25 at 7:30 p.m.