A tough start headlines a season to forget

Concordian file photo

What started out as a strong start to the season, with opening wins versus cross-town rival McGill Redmen and the Carleton Ravens, turned into a season to forget for the Concordia Stingers men’s hockey team.

Although their hockey fate came down to the last game of the season, a 2-1 loss to Toronto, falling three points shy of a playoff spot, the Stingers (8-15-5) suffered more than just a disastrous 10-game losing streak early in the season.

Opening the season with Nick Champion between the pipes, who was expected to attend the Tampa Bay Lightning’s pre-lockout training camp in September, Stingers head coach Kevin Figsby thought he had an All-Canadian goaltender in the making.

After beginning the season with consecutive wins, Figsby received some unexpected news – Champion’s days as a Stinger were over. The netminder received a job opportunity from a mining company in Labrador that he could not refuse.

“After losing Nick Champion, we were almost in a depression for five games to lose a goalie that we thought would be a CIS All-Canadian this year,” said Figsby, who’s been at the helm for 13 seasons.

The team went on to lose their next 10 games, throwing untested goaltenders Loic Boivin and Antonio Mastropietro into the fire.

To make matters worse, the team battled more than just the slump. They were forced to play through injuries, playing without forward Jessyco Bernard (blood disorder; missed nine games) and rookie defenseman Alex MacDonald (concussion; missed six games).

But after a much needed Christmas break, the Stingers made a run for the playoffs, running a 4-5-3 record to end the season, all the while playing short-handed, as backup goaltender Loic Boivin was out with a torn hip abductor.

“I got to look back and say ‘hey we peaked at the right time and we did all the right things but we came up three points shy’,” said Figsby.

The Stingers were in playoff contention until their final game, when a loss to Toronto and a Ryerson win (eighth in the OUA Eastern Conference) ended their postseason hopes.

While the loss of Champion and a lethargic 10-game slump can be highlighted in the disappointing season, it was the Stingers lack of scoring prowess that ultimately put a dent in their playoff aspirations.

The team finished the season second-to-last in goals for, with 73 goals scored, a 41-goal drop-off from the 2011-12 season. Both star forwards, George Lovatsis (19 points in 28 games) and Alex Monahan (15 points in 28 games), had off-years after a stellar 2011-12 season in which they scored 40 and 27 points, respectively.

Now this young Stingers team, featuring nine rookies, will be even younger next year, as captain Kyle Kelly, Lyle Van Wieran, Alex Monahan, Djan Lefebvre and Corey Garland are finishing their last semester at Concordia University.

But the future looks bright for Concordia’s hockey program.

Mastropietro’s emergence in the second half not only earned him a rookie goalie of the year nomination from coach Figsby, but also his status as the undisputed number one goalie to open the 2013-14 season.

“I just started being less nervous and just having fun, while helping out the team,” said the netminder, when asked about his overall game.

Figsby certainly expects “the great Antonio” to backstop his team next season with a strong, young core intact. The team is planning to build a foundation around Olivier Hinse, Jessyco Bernard, Dany Potvin, Youssef Kabbaj and Alex MacDonald.



Athletes of the month for January

Men’s Hockey – Etienne Archambault

The Stingers finished with a record of 2-4-2 in January. Etienne Archambault led the Stingers with four goals and four assists in these eight games. The St-Hyacinthe, Que., native continues to lead Concordia in overall points, after amassing a team-best 11 goals while chipping in eight assists in 24 games this season. This is Archambault’s second season with the Stingers.

– Anthony Abbondanza, Staff writer

Women’s Hockey – Veronique Laramee-Paquette, Hayley Boyd and Tracy-Ann Lavigne

January was a tough beginning to the New Year for the Stingers, but there was a new formed line that really excelled; that being the line of Veronique Laramee-Paquette, Hayley Boyd and Tracy-Ann Lavigne. During the season play this month, Laramée-Paquette had a goal and three assists, adding two assists in the Theresa Humes Tournament. Boyd had two goals and an assist during the month. Lavigne had a goal and an assist during season play, but led the team with three goals at the Humes, including two against Queen’s.

­– David S. Landsman, Staff writer

Men’s Basketball – Kyle Desmarais

After missing the entire opening month of play due to injury, guard Kyle Desmarais returned to the court in the Stingers’ first game back from the holiday break. He made an immediate contribution to the team, scoring a team-high 19 points in a total domination of the McGill Redmen on Jan. 10. The second team All-Canadian in 2010-2011, Desmarais participated in four of his team’s five games this past month. He led the team with an average of 19 points in the four games.

Women’s Basketball – Marilyse Roy-Viau

First-year forward Marilyse Roy-Viau helped Concordia to a 3-2 record during the month of January. The Mirabel, Que., native averaged 12 points per game, acting as the Stingers’ leading scorer in two of the five games. Her best game came on Jan. 26 against the UQAM Citadins, when she finished with 16 points and seven rebounds. The 21-year-old was also named Concordia’s female athlete-of-the-week three times over the past month.

Men’s Soccer – Amadou Lam

The Concordia men’s soccer team played three times during the month of January. The Stingers opened the season with a clean sheet two-nil victory against McGill, drew the Montreal Impact Academy team 1-1 and lost to Sherbrooke 3-2. Midfielder Amadou Lam was named MVP in two of the three matches. He scored against the Redmen when his diving header sailed past the keeper in the 63rd minute of that game. Lam, from Nouakchott, Mauritania, then had two good performances in the following matches, playing as a playmaking midfielder.

Women’s Soccer – Jennifer Duff

The Stingers women’s soccer team only played twice in the month of January. The team opened the indoor season with a 3-0 loss to rivals McGill on Jan. 10 and managed a 1-1 draw against Sherbrooke on Jan. 27. Jennifer Duff had the team’s only goal in the month. She led the team in scoring in the outdoor season in the fall and is currently leading the team as of their last match on Feb. 3. Duff was named the team’s MVP in the shutout loss to the Martlets.

– Kevin Duarte, Sports editor


Stingers use off-ice technology to improve on-ice ability

The Hockey IntelliGym

When confronted with the opportunity to improve his hockey team’s overall performance with the help of an online computer program, Stingers head coach Kevin Figsby could not refuse.

In a conversation with Roger Grillo and Kevin McLaughlin of USA Hockey, Figsby was informed of the Hockey IntelliGym, an online program which uses cognitive simulation technology to improve players’ performance in team sports.

“When I looked at the opportunity that it presented and I looked at the track record, it was something that fit where I saw our program moving in over the next three years,” said Figsby, who has been at the helm of the men’s team for 12 years.

Aware that USA Hockey’s national under-18 team was reaping major benefits — 30 per cent increase in goal output — from its use of Applied Cognitive Engineering’s software, IntelliGym, Figsby decided his scoring-starved Stingers (56 goals in 22 games; second worst in OUA) needed the online program.

In late October the Concordia Stingers men’s hockey team (6-14-3) became Canada’s first sports team to use the technology that aids players in developing hockey sense.

“The bonus to this is it’s a computer game,” said Figsby. “If you’re going to teach your players anything that’s off-ice from a cognitive development perspective, you may as well have fun with it.”

According to Figsby, a number of players have become very enthusiastic about the program, going over the required weekly regimen; that is, two weekly sessions of 30 minutes.

Corey Garland, the team’s assistant captain, is among the players who have developed a fun obsession with the program.

“It’s a lot of fun,” said Garland. “It is very addictive, but it does help with my game.”

And Figsby doesn’t mind his excessive usage of IntelliGym.

“What I’m seeing is that [Garland] is doing things with the puck he never did before,” said Figsby. “Is he scoring more? No, but is he handling the puck better, making better decisions. Is he creating more scoring opportunities? Yes, without a doubt.”

As for the rest of team, players have been receptive but, like in academia, some wait until the last minute to complete their assignments. As such, Figsby has noted a direct correlation between the team’s most recent goal scorers and their activity on IntelliGym, as well as the “guys who are struggling with the puck and how long they’ve been on and off IntelliGym.”

While it’s still too early to determine IntelliGym’s impact on the team’s overall play, Figsby sees the value in the product for years to come. “It’ll have a much greater impact next year just because of the learning phase and for guys to include it in their routines,” said Figsby.

According to Danny Dankner, CEO for Applied Cognitive Engineering, the Stingers have yet to reach a stage in their training to which any improvement in their overall game can be accurately assessed. Moreover, players should show significant on-ice improvement after eight to 10 training sessions.

“In the case of Concordia, many of the players have not completed this initial phase yet,” said Dankner.

The IntelliGym technology, a computer-based cognitive simulator, is based on a concept designed and developed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency for Air Force pilots. DARPA successfully trained pilots to anticipate challenges in flight and found that flight performance had increased by 30 per cent.

To date IntelliGym’s been used for basketball and hockey players, to help them learn to anticipate and memorize patterns.

The Stingers are no longer the only Canadian sports team using the program. The Ontario Hockey League’s Niagara IceDogs started using IntelliGym in December.


Stingers defeat rivals McGill and end five-game slump

With their backs up against the wall amidst a five-game losing streak, the Concordia Stingers men’s hockey team pulled off an unlikely comeback win versus cross-town rivals, the McGill Redmen, 3-2 in the shootout.

Down 2-1 with 30 seconds left in the game, Stingers forward George Lovatsis banged home a loose puck in front of the net to tie the game. Lovatsis eventually scored the shootout winner.

“I’m really pleased with how well the guys executed the game plan tonight,” said Concordia head coach Kevin Figsby. “We worked really hard in practice this week and it paid off.”

The Stingers took the lead early in the first period when Alex Monahan scored his eighth goal of the season with a blast from the blue line that soared past Redmen goaltender Andrew Flemming.

Down early, McGill got to work, establishing a dominating offensive zone presence and had their best chance of the opening period when Redmen forward David Rose walked by three sleeping Stingers and fired one at Antonio Mastropietro. The Stingers netminder flashed the glove for the save.

In the second period, Concordia’s best chance to score came when Monahan set up Lovatsis from the half-wall for a one-time shot, only to be denied by Flemming’s shoulder save.

With momentum tilted in their favour, Stingers pugilist Corey Garland took an ill-timed, unsportsmanlike conduct penalty when he showered Flemming with ice. The Redmen scored on the ensuing power-play.

The rivals treated the crowd to an entertaining third period. Both teams exchanged a number of good chances, but it wasn’t until a late Concordia penalty that McGill capitalized.

With less than 10 minutes to go in the game, Redmen forward Patrick Delisle-Houde handled a cross-crease backhand feed from Rose and ripped it top corner from the side of the net.

With time running out on the game, Concordia called a timeout.

“I just told them no shot’s a bad shot,” said coach Figsby. “Let’s put a puck on net and create an opportunity.”

And an opportunity they did create. With 35 seconds remaining, Olivier Hinse immediately put the puck on net. With several players jamming in Flemming’s crease, Lovatsis banged a loose puck to the back of the net to tie the game.

Following an uneventful overtime, the game went to a shootout. After Mastropietro shut the door on two Redmen players, Lovatsis deked Flemming and softly netted the shootout winner.

Less than 48 hours later, Concordia travelled to Ottawa to face the Gee-Gees. Although they were able to claw back from an early third period 5-3 deficit, the Stingers eventually lost 6-5 in the shootout.

The Stingers took three of four possible points this weekend and are now two points behind Ryerson for the eighth and final spot in the OUA playoffs. Concordia is already eliminated from CIS playoff contention.


Concordia will put an end to a five-game road trip when they travel to Nipissing and Ryerson this coming weekend.


Stung by the flu bug, Stingers lose two games

The Concordia Stingers men’s hockey team woke up this morning out of the Ontario University hockey playoff picture.

A 3-2 overtime loss to rivals McGill on Wednesday and a 5-3 loss to the UQTR Patriotes this weekend bumped the Stingers to ninth overall in the eastern conference. Photo by Madelayne Hajek

A 3-2 overtime loss to rivals McGill on Wednesday and a 5-3 loss to the UQTR Patriotes this weekend bumped the Stingers to ninth overall in the eastern conference.

“We got to come out and put our foot on the gas and keep it on the gas for 60 minutes,” said Stingers head coach Kevin Figsby.

The Stingers began the week with a highly-anticipated matchup against the third-ranked McGill Redmen.

The visiting Stingers squandered a 2-1 lead against their cross-town rivals with 13 seconds remaining when Redmen forward Guillaume Monast took advantage of a defensive turnover and roofed a shot up high on Stingers goalie Antonio Mastropietro.

Two minutes into overtime, Redmen forward Jonathan Brunelle took a nifty pass from Ryan McKiernan and wired a shot past Mastropietro from the slot to win the game.

“We made one mistake in regulation and it cost us,” said a frustrated Figsby. “We made a mistake in overtime. It’s a shame, I thought our guys played super and I thought it was one of our best games.”

Mastropietro was spectacular in the loss, finishing the game with 33 saves.

While the Stingers tried to turn the page for Saturday afternoon’s game against the UQTR Patriotes, Concordia squandered a lead, yet again.

After opening the game with consecutive goals by George Lovatsis and Alexandre Monahan, the Stingers allowed two quick goals of their own.

Patriotes forward Felix Petit, who was left unguarded on Mastropietro’s doorstep, took advantage of a Concordia penalty midway through the first period to score his ninth goal of the season.

Seconds later, the Patriotes scored again when forward Pierre-Olivier Morin found Marc-Olivier Mimar alone in and around Mastropietro’s crease for the easy goal.

After an uneventful second period, in which the Stingers were outshot 13-7, Concordia came out in the third period with a boost of energy, establishing an offensive presence.

A controversial penalty, called by the officials against Concordia forward Corey Garland for hooking, changed the tone for the balance of the game.

“I was little bit pissed off,” said Figsby after the game. “You know it’s a 2-2 game and the referee makes a marginal call.”

The Patriotes quickly took advantage on the powerplay when Emmanuel Boudreau potted his third of the season.

With less than five minutes to go in the game and the Stingers trailing 4-2, Monahan sped by two sleeping Patriotes defensemen and slipped the puck past goaltender Guillaume Nadeau for his seventh of the season, pulling Concordia within one.

Monahan finished the game with three points, two goals and one assist.

But when Stingers defensemen Lyle Van Wieren took an unnecessary high sticking penalty during the games final minutes, it was all over.

A late powerplay marker by Morin finished the Stingers. The Patriotes won the game 5-3.

It’s worth noting Concordia was without top defenseman Youssef Kabbaj who was out with the flu and their captain, Kyle Kelly was suffering from a separated shoulder.

Coach Figsby said the team is currently battling more than just a string of losses, but a midseason influenza that has affected six players thus far.

The Stingers will face UQTR once more this Friday at Ed Meagher arena. Puck drops at 7:30 p.m.



Stingers finish weekend with two home wins

The Stingers rallied back from a two-goal deficit to beat the Nipissing Lakers 6-5 at Ed Meagher Arena on Friday night. Photo by Marie-Josée Kelly

With seconds remaining in the game, forward Etienne Archambault flew down the ice on a breakaway and backhanded a shot past diving Lakers goalkeeper Daniel Spence.

After the game, Stingers head coach Kevin Figsby described the atmosphere in the team’s locker room.

“They’re in there playing air guitars, jumping up and down to our theme song,” said Figsby.

The Stingers began the game in ninth place in the Eastern Conference of the Ontario University Athletics League with five points in the team’s first 16 games of the season.

Forward Mathieu Dubuc got the Stingers off to a good start with his second goal of the season when he corralled a rebound in front of the net and fired it into a gaping net.

The lead was short-lived however, when Lakers captain Andrew Marcoux shot a stoppable puck past Stingers goaltender Antonio Mastropietro.

Nipissing carried momentum into the second frame, outshooting the Stingers 17-13 and scoring three goals in the process.

With the Stingers down 5-3 to start the third, the men in maroon and gold never lost hope. Stingers forward Kyle Kelly cued the comeback.

Seven minutes into the third, the captain banked in a sloppy rebound past a sprawled out Lakers goalkeeper.

And minutes later, Olivier Hinse’s nifty pass from behind the net found linemate Dubuc in front of the net. Dubuc potted his second of the game.

The ice tilted in Concordia’s favour for the remainder of the game. With seconds remaining, Stingers forward Archambault blew past his marker and deked past Spence, backhanding his shot into a gaping net.

“I was just thinking ‘if I score this, we don’t have to go to overtime,’” said Archambault. “Luckily I scored and it felt great.”

The Stingers won 6-5, but more importantly, they put an end to a dreadful 10-game losing streak. And it didn’t take long to commence a little streak of their own.

Twenty-four hours later the Stingers, hosting the Ryerson Rams, took advantage of a strong second period to win 4-0.

Ben Dubois, Dany Potvin, Kyle Armstrong and Archambault each had a goal.


The win moved Concordia into eighth place, three points behind Queen’s University, which they’ll face on Friday night, Nov. 30 at Kingston Memorial Centre.


Struggles continue for Stingers men’s hockey

Photo by Marie-Josée Kelly

The men’s hockey team blew a two-goal lead late in the third period, losing 3-2 against the Carleton Ravens. Less than 24 hours later, the Stingers couldn’t overcome a potent Gee Gees offense, losing 6-3 to Ottawa.

Despite the two losses, Stingers head coach Kevin Figsby praised his team’s efforts.

“We have a great group of kids,” said Figsby. “They’ve been working really hard. We’re moving from being frustrated to learning consistency and confidence.”

The weekend’s hockey action began Saturday, with the Stingers hosting the Carleton Ravens at Ed Meagher arena.

The game got off to a physical start. Stingers forward Alex Monahan was involved in an altercation with Ravens forward Tyler Taylor.

The early scrum inspired the Concordia bench. Soon after, the Stingers cycled the puck in and around Ravens’ goalkeeper Ryan Dube for large stretches of the first period.

But it wasn’t until a penalty kill midway through the first period that the Stingers finally found the back of the net. Forward Olivier Hinse redirected a Dany Potvin shot from the point for his second goal of the season.

The Stingers carried momentum early in the second period, forcing Dube to make some impressive saves, most notably a breakaway stop on Potvin, who flew past two sleeping defensemen.

Minutes later, Stingers goalkeeper Loic Boivin kept his team in front, robbing unguarded Ravens forward Jeff Hayes on his doorstep.

“He played great,” said Figsby. “He’s calm. Both of our goalies are young and are learning.”

Late in the second period, the Stingers capitalized on an ill-timed Ravens penalty. Monahan potted his third goal of the season off a bad rebound.

With the score 2-1 later in the second period, the Stingers had the insurance goal in sight with several power-play opportunities. Their failure to capitalize bred new life for the Ravens.

Late in the third period, Ravens forwards Ryan Berard and Mitch Porowski shocked the Stingers with two back-to-back goals, finishing the comeback.

The maroon and gold finished the game one-for-seven on the powerplay.

“We worked all week on a set power-play that we knew would work against Carleton,” said Figsby. “But 20 minutes before the game, the medical staff decided [defenseman] Alex MacDonald could not play.”

According to Figsby, MacDonald’s presence on the powerplay is paramount to the team’s success.

Twenty-four hours after the disappointing loss to the Ravens, the Stingers took on the Ottawa Gee Gees in Ottawa.

Things got ugly early on; the Stingers were down 4-0 at the first intermission.

But in the second period the Stingers turned on the heat and out-shot the Gee Gees 12-8. The Stingers’ Alexis Piette, George Lovatsis, and Potvin each scored a goal, narrowing the Gee Gees lead to one goal.

The Stingers thought the comeback was complete in the third period when a shot from the point found the back of the net; however, Mathieu Dubuc’s goaltender interference nullified the goal.

The Gee Gees went on to add two late markers, beating Concordia 6-3.

The Stingers will try to end the 10-game winless streak on Friday when they host the Nipissing Lakers at the Ed Meagher arena. Puck drops at 7:30 p.m. Less than 24 hours later, in the second home game of the weekend, Concordia will square off against the Ryerson Rams at 2 p.m.


Men’s hockey gets shut out in Toronto

The Stingers play against the York University Lions. Photo by Forster Chan

York University’s Lions imposed their roar on the lowly-ranked Concordia Stingers men’s hockey team, routing the visitors 5-0.

The Stingers, who began the game winless in their last six games, played like a defeated team from start to finish.

Stingers head coach Kevin Figsby said his team’s effort wasn’t what it should have been.

“Right now, the guys are not playing within a collective concept,” he said. “They’re playing as individuals. We need our guys to play as a five-man unit.”

It didn’t take long for the Lions to force their will on the Stingers. Three minutes into the game, a lucky bounce rebounded off Lions forward Jesse Messier in front of the net, throwing Stingers’ netminder Loic Boivin off-balance. With the ensuing shot hitting the post, Messier’s line-mate John De Gray potted the puck into an open Concordia net.

The Stingers, who were visibly without their skating legs, had their first quality scoring chance when forward Olivier Hinse found himself alone facing Lions netminder Andrew Perugini with a juicy rebound opportunity. Perugini robbed him with the flashy glove save.

“The guys are squeezing the sticks too much,” said Figsby. “They’re frustrated with not scoring goals.”

Moments later, the Lions took the puck end to end. The play developed into a two-on-one, with Lions forward Evan Gravenor wristing one past Boivin.

Just before the end of the first period, York forward Troy Barss’ weak backhand shot creeped Boivin to make it 3-0 for the home team.

Although the Stingers began the second period with some much needed energy and a stronger forecheck, it didn’t pay dividends as Lions defenseman Tyler Mort hit a slapshot from the blue line past a screened Boivin. The goal incited a goalie change, but to no avail.

With York scoring for the fifth and final time on Stingers backup goaltender Antonio Mastropietro late in the second, the game was out of reach and was starting to get nasty with players exchanging some errant high sticks, crushing body checks, and goalie snow-showers.

The last five minutes of the third period featured an eruption of penalties, one of which was a 10-minute game misconduct handed to Stingers centre Kyle Armstrong after his antics during a scrum in Perugini’s crease.

On Saturday, Concordia faced off against the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks at Sun life Arena. Despite the Stingers outshooting the Golden Hawks, Laurier won the game 7-4.

The Stingers are now winless in eight games and are currently ranked ninth in the eastern conference of the Ontario University Athletics League, with a 2-7-1 record.


Concordia will return home to Ed Meagher Arena to play the Carleton Ravens on Saturday, Nov. 17 at 2 p.m.. The following day, the team will head to Ottawa to face the Gee-Gees at the same time.


Healthy body, healthy mind

Graphic by Jennifer Kwan

Much has been said about playing sports at an early age and its effects on academic success.

Studies have shown that participation in sport boosts popularity, promotes self-confidence, and raises educational aspirations.

Some studies have shown that school sports increase conformity which in turn increases access to rewards in the system, such as good grades. For this reason, schools that invest in extracurricular activities are able to reap all the benefits.

But does the same apply to student athletes here in Canada? Kevin Milonja certainly believes so. Milonja is a fitness instructor for a hockey excellence program and teaches math to grade eight students at Heritage Regional high school in St-Hubert.

“The research I’ve compiled says that yes, sports do have a positive impact on students’ studies,” said the 24-year-old, who is also a personal trainer at Nautilus Gym.

He attributed classroom success with particular skills that are learned via participation in sports such as organization.

“You have to organize your time around the sports you play,” said Milonja. “That means you can’t procrastinate; you have to organize effectively, which leads to better grades.”

While organizational skills help avoid procrastination, there are other incentives to participate in sporting activities.

According to Mike Rinaldi, a campus recreation co-ordinator at Concordia University, regular physical activity, which can take a variety forms, such as sports, aerobics, etc., can reduce stress, improve the quality of sleep, strengthen the immune system, and promote relaxation and energy — factors that help with the daily academic grind students experience.

“Students will feel less tired, tend to be more focused on their academic goals and are more resilient to the mental and physical stresses brought on by academic expectations,” said Rinaldi.

For Rinaldi, a healthy body is a prerequisite for a healthy mind, but that sentiment is not shared by all.

In a summary report entitled Boys’ Academic Achievement, commissioned by the Quebec Government, researchers state otherwise. The report cites a number of school principals questioned in a survey, stating the impact of sports does not extend beyond its immediate effect on student’s behaviour, motivation, self-esteem, and class attendance.

Researchers behind the report rejected the notion that sports can have a positive impact on academic results, but some would argue that this stands in stark contrast to reality.

The Ministry of Education, Leisure and Sports has devoted significant resources to student-athletes and there are approximately 300 sports-study programs across Quebec.

While they are designed to recognize and develop promising athletes throughout the province, the program has prioritized academic achievement. Students who fail to reach academic requirements are dropped from the program.

In 2009, the ministry took the program to new heights. Student athletes who are designated as ‘exceptional’ are now offered additional pedagogical assistance. The assistance comes in the form of tutors and teachers who are available for instruction during off-days.

The purpose of this new initiative is designed to ensure that exceptional athletes, who are bound to miss school for extracurricular activities, get the necessary academic assistance.






Concordia starts season with win over UQÀM

The Concordia Stingers needed an inspirational fourth quarter rally to defeat the Citadins at the Centre Sportif UQÀM.

In the Wednesday night season-opener, the Stingers were largely outplayed for the first 40 minutes. A 33-9 scoring run, led by forward Evens Laroche and guard Jerome Blake, helped Concordia squeak by with a five-point victory.  While the win was nothing short of spectacular, the team was none too thrilled with their game.

“We didn’t play defense for three quarters,” said assistant coach Ernie Rosa, in his 19th year with the team. “Our offense was stagnant and we didn’t work as hard as we could have.”

The Stingers played against UQAM last week. Photo by Andrew Dobrowolsky

It was a tale of two completely different games.

Laroche put his team ahead in the first minute of the game with a layup off the rush. But that would be their only lead in the first half as the Citadins shot a decent .469 from the court, outscoring the Stingers 37-25 at the half.

Matters worsened when the Stingers offense couldn’t turn Citadins turnovers into scoring plays. They soon found themselves down 60-41, with one last quarter to play.

“The thing I told the guys is ‘hope, you have to be hopeful’,” said Laroche, last year’s all-Canadian standout. “Even if you’re losing by 15, you have to be hopeful that you can win the game.”

The men in maroon and gold did just that.

Laroche came through in the clutch, stealing a Citadins pass early in the fourth quarter. He also drew praise from his coaches.

“At the end of a game, he’s a guy you want on the floor with the ball,” said Rosa. “He’s a guy who wants to win at any cost.”

It was a sweet victory for Laroche who, just a few months ago, was uncertain whether he would be ready for the season-opener.

Laroche, in his fifth and final year of Canadian Interuniversity basketball eligibility, injured his knee during a daily workout. After an MRI revealed a serious case of patellar tendonitis in his right knee, his season was in jeopardy.

“When I came here and they told me I couldn’t play, it was frustrating,” said Laroche.

After a month-long rest, at his doctor’s behest, Laroche did what he usually does: train hard.

That meant putting in extra hours at the gym to get back in form. He credits daily stretching, icing, and much rest between workouts for his recovery.

It wasn’t long before he was ready for his first action of the 2012-13 season. Much like the Stingers’ comeback victory against UQÀM on Wednesday, Laroche too had a sweet comeback of his own.


The Stingers opened the season 1-0 and are preparing for their home-opener against the Laval Rouge et Or on Nov. 15. Tip off at Concordia Gymnasium is at 8 p.m. following the women’s game.


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