The Stingers’ men’s hockey team has won their final six regular season games, finishing with a 19-7-0 record
It was a meaningless game for the Stingers, who were locked into second place in the OUA East Division and guaranteed a first-round bye. Other than keeping their winning streak alive, they had nothing to play for. Stingers’ head coach Marc-André Elément said he healthy scratched several key players in order to avoid injuries before the playoffs.
“I’m happy that one is done,” he said. “I’m happy there were no injuries and we’re ready for the playoffs.”
Elément was not worried about the result of this game going in, but he wanted his team to play the right way and hone its game for the postseason. The Stingers certainly accomplished that.
“We did the little details. We did enough to win that game,” he said.
The night started on an emotional note for the Stingers. Forward Alexander Katerinakis and defenceman Marcus Tesink were honoured by the Stingers’ coaching staff before Concordia’s last regular season game. They are both scheduled to graduate in the spring.
The Stingers started the game slowly, putting up just two shots on goal in the opening period. But goaltender Jonathan Lemieux stood tall, making several tough saves, and the Stingers escaped the first period tied 0-0.
Concordia dominated the rest of the way, outshooting the Gaels 28-13 in the final two periods. Stingers’ forwards Julien Anctil, Charles Tremblay, and Tyler Hylland all scored in the second half of the middle frame to give the Stingers a 3-0 lead with 20 minutes to play. Stingers’ forward Émile Hegarty-Aubin and defenceman Samuel Desgroseilliers added insurance markers in the third period to clinch the 5-0 win.
Lemieux ended his spectacular rookie season on a positive note, making 21 saves for his third shutout of the season. In his 21 appearances between the posts this season, Lemieux allowed more than two goals only five times. He finished the season with a 16-4-0 record and a 0.933 save percentage. But he had high praise for his team.
“The guys blocked a lot of shots tonight,” he said. “We wanted to finish strong. On my part, it was really about keeping it simple and playing my game.”
He emphasized that the team’s character is just as important as the team’s talent.
“We have a lot of talent, but when we don’t work as hard, it doesn’t go so well,” he explained. “We have certain older guys, Katerinakis, [Phélix] Martineau, Hylland…they are going to lead by example in the playoffs.”
Anctil was named the first star of the game after registering a goal and two assists, bringing his totals to three goals and 13 points in 22 regular season games.
“I think it’s an important win at the end of season before starting the playoffs,” he said. “We’re starting the playoffs on the right foot.”
But Anctil said that the Stingers, despite winning six straight games, still have aspects of the game to work on during their bye week.
“We have two weeks to work on small details,” he explained. “We were lacking a bit of execution in zone exits and things like that,” he added.
Elément said the coaching staff will “make sure we keep the guys sharp in practices” so the long layoff does not make the team rusty. He also noted that the bye week will help his injured players recuperate in time for their second-round matchup.
The OUA playoffs consist of three rounds of best-of-three series followed by one final game to decide the Queen’s Cup champion on March 11.
The Stingers now await the winner of the first-round series between Ontario Tech and Carleton University, who sit in fourth and fifth place in the OUA East Division respectively. The Stingers’ second-round series will begin no earlier than Feb. 22.