Roller coaster semifinal weekend for Stingers Hockey

Stingers captain Emmy Fecteau stick-handles through two Ottawa players. Photo courtesy of Concordia Athletics

Stingers men’s hockey swept by rival McGill Redbirds, women’s team takes down feisty Ottawa Gee-Gees.

The Concordia Stingers men’s and women’s hockey teams both kicked off their semifinal playoff rounds this past week. While the teams were in different scenarios based on their divisional standings, both had momentum and high hopes coming into their respective series.

It was the men’s team that took to the ice at McGill’s McConnell Arena on Feb. 21. Coming off a two-game sweep of the Queen’s University Gaels, the Stingers matched up against the top-seeded Redbirds in the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) East division semifinals. 

After two periods in game one, Concordia found themselves down 5-2. After resetting with a goalie change and a timeout, the Stingers came out in the third period flying. Forward Isiah Campbell scored his second of the game and fifth in just three playoff games, closing the McGill lead to 5-4 in the dying minutes of regulation. 

Campbell spoke postgame about what has driven him to perform in such a big way.

“Honestly, I’m just playing for the logo on the front [of my jersey],” he said about his motivation. “I always try to battle hard and give my 100 percent every shift I have.”

With their net empty, the Stingers fired all they had at Redbirds goaltender Alexis Shank. In the end, however, it was not enough. McGill added an empty netter and took game one by a score of 6-4. 

Stingers’ head coach Marc-André Elément offered some insight into what he wanted his team to improve on for game two.

“We didn’t execute our game plan at all,” said Elément post-game. “We’ll have to play a full 60 minutes and if not, it’s going to be tough being successful.” That 60-minute effort would be necessary in game two, because with a loss, the Stingers’ season would come to an end.

Game two had a much more defensive tone than the high-scoring game one. The Stingers jumped out to an early 1-0 lead when forward Gabriel Proulx netted one past Shank. The score would remain even until McGill scored two unanswered goals in the second period to take the lead.

Stingers forward Isiah Campbell focuses on the play. Photo Courtesy of Concordia Athletics.

With their season 20 minutes away from ending, the Stingers’ desperation began to be on full display. Every chance the Stingers had to take a shot, they put the puck to goal but could not solve the Redbird goalie. In the final minutes, Concordia was forced to pull their goalie as a last-ditch effort to knot the game at two. McGill would capitalize on the opportunity and put the series to rest, 3-1 the final score.

With the season concluding for the men’s team, it also marked the end of the Concordia hockey careers for forward Charles-Antoine Giguère, forward and assistant captain Tyler Hylland, and forward and captain Phélix Martineau. 

Coach Elément shared some final comments on the legacy these three players will leave with.

“Three amazing guys—Giguère, Tyler, and our captain Marti— they’ve all left a big footprint on our program and I’m proud of them all,” he shared emotionally.

Though an unfortunate result at the Ed Meagher Arena in game two for the men’s team, the action of semifinal weekend was not over yet.

After completing their undefeated 25-0-0 record in the regular season, the Stingers women’s hockey team hosted the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees on Feb. 22 for game one of the RSEQ semifinals.

It had been six days since the Stingers played last, and the rust showed early as the Gee-Gees took an early 1-0 lead. Once the second period began, it did not take long for the Stingers to claw their way back in front. Three unanswered goals by forwards Jessymaude Drapeau, Rosalie Bégin-Cyr, and Emmy Fecteau put the Stingers in command up 3-1.

In the third period, the Stingers shut Ottawa down from any golden scoring opportunities while adding two more goals of their own, winning game one by a score of 5-1.

With the series shifting to Ottawa for game two, Concordia had the opportunity to win and clinch not only the RSEQ finals, but also the USports National Championship tournament.

The first period of game two had a similar feel to game one. Ottawa came out playing desperately, knowing their season was on the line. A penalty to the Stingers allowed the Gee-Gees to set up in their offensive zone and bury a shot past Stingers’ goaltender Jordyn Verbeek.

As the second period began, the response by Concordia was overshadowed by the staunch goaltending of Ottawa’s Aurélie Dubuc. All 39 shots through the first two periods were stopped by Dubuc, giving Ottawa the momentum to add another goal. The Stingers had not been down by two goals heading into the third period all season long, but that did not stop them from battling hard until the final buzzer.

Still down by two goals in the final minutes, the Stingers elected to pull their goalie and get the extra skater. It was shortly after when Concordia finally solved Dubuc. Running out of time and still needing a goal, the Stingers pulled their goalie once more. This time, they could not capitalize. Ottawa became the first team to beat the Stingers since the preseason on Oct. 1, more importantly forcing a game three back at the Ed Meagher Arena. It would be up to Concordia to turn the page quickly and not get shaken by the loss.

Turning the page is just what they did.

Three minutes into the first period, Stingers’ forward Chloé Gendreau opened the scoring giving Concordia a 1-0 lead and all the momentum. This was followed up by the Stingers scoring three more goals in just seven minutes to give them a 4-0 after the opening frame.

Once the second period began, the floodgates had fully opened. Five goals in a span of 10 minutes saw the Stingers in front by a 9-0 score after 40 minutes. In the final period of the game, the Stingers added four more goals to the scoresheet, crushing the Gee-Gees by a score of 13-0.

The win clinches Concordia a spot in both the RSEQ final as well as the USports National Championship tournament. The RSEQ final will begin on Feb. 29 at the Ed Meagher Arena, where the Stingers will play host to the rival Université de Montréal Carabins. Puck drop is set for 7:30 p.m.

Following the end of the RSEQ season, the Stingers will head to the University of Saskatchewan, who will be hosting this year’s USports National Championship. The tournament will take place between March 14 and 17, and the matchups are yet to be determined.

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