Categories
Soccer Sports

The stage is set for the 2024 Euro Championship

Multiple teams will make their bid at winning this summer’s main football event.

The European Championship playoff round took place on March 26 to decide which final teams in the tournament would be. Now that the groups are set, it is time to deliberate who will be crowned European Champions in 2024.

This year’s tournament will include a mix of soccer powerhouses along with teams that may go under the radar. Six groups of four teams each will battle in the first round—the group stage—to decide who advances to the knockout rounds. The top two teams from each group, along with the best third place teams in the tournament, will punch their ticket to the next round.

In Group A, the host country, Germany, is likely a favourite to advance through to the knockout round. Young talent in attacking midfielder Kai Havertz, as well as established goalkeeper Manuel Nauer give the hosts a big advantage against opposing countries. Scotland, Hungary and Switzerland will battle tough to be the runner-up and clinch their spot in the next round.

Another notable group in the tournament is Group D. France, who came in second place at the 2022 FIFA World Cup, is likely to win the group. The runner-up spot is likely to be a tough battle between Netherlands, Austria and Poland. 

England is also a favourite in Group C with Slovenia, Denmark and Serbia. The same thing goes for Belgium in Group E with Slovakia, Romania and Ukraine. Group F is likely to be topped by Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal squad, as they will compete against Turkey, Czechia and Georgia.

Finally, the stacked Group B—ranked third in Europe is Spain. The Spanish powerhouse comes into the tournament with one of the most balanced squads in the world made up of striker Álvaro Morata, midfielder Dani Olmo and goalkeeper Unai Simón. Though they are favourites to win the tournament, advancing to the knockout stage will not be a breeze for Spain. First, they will have to get through Croatia. Led by the veteran striker Luka Modrić, Croatia came in third place at the 2022 FIFA World Cup. 

They did, however, finish the Euro Qualifying stage by losing to Wales, whose team failed to qualify for the tournament. Despite the talent of both Spain and Croatia, the competition does not stop there. Italy, winner of the 2020 European Championship, comes into the tournament as the 18th nation in Europe. Yet, Italy has the experience as one of the top nations in the world. Striker Federico Chiesa and goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma have the potential to carry Italy to the knockout stage even against the toughest opponents. Albania, the final nation in the group, will be up against large competition and will have to go on a magical run to make it out of the group stage.

The European Championship is a world-renowned tournament for a reason. Once again in 2024, it will be a best-on-best frenzy to see which nation will be crowned champions of the football capital of the world.

Categories
Sports Tennis

Concordia’s tennis team served up a hard-fought weekend of playoff action

The men and women’s teams each played their final matches of the season this past weekend.

While the varsity sports season ended for the Concordia Stingers, playoff action has not gone away completely. The Concordia Tennis Team, funded by the Concordia Student Union (CSU), is a club where students of Concordia University compete each year against opposing university teams around the Montreal area.

Though recognized as a club at Concordia, the team has all the elements of a varsity team. “The players are serious and the team has the structure,” said coach Rafaela Panizza. Panizza and co-coach Valentin Oswald are optimistic that someday, the team will become recognized as a varsity team.

March 29 marked the first day of the Quebec Tennis Playoffs at the IGA Stadium. For Concordia, the men’s team led off the action. Facing third-seeded McGill University in the quarterfinals, Concordia came in as the sixth-seeded team in the tournament.

The playoff format creates six simultaneous matches for singles competition. Two players from different universities go up against each other, and the university with the highest number of wins advances into the semifinals.

Concordia member Sergio Zaccaria lines up a backhand.
Credit: Heloise Appourchaux @alittlebetterthanadream

Through all of the matches, tough battles ensued. Some of the matches went to a tiebreaking set, some involved playing through physical pain, and some included continuous rallies. Despite a result that favoured McGill, Concordia’s coaches could not say enough about their players’ valiant performances.

“I think today showed how much our team has been working all year,” said Panizza after the men’s quarterfinals. “[Our team] has been serious since day one, and even if the other teams are strong, today showed that we make [winning] very hard on the other teams.”

The focus shifted quickly to the women’s quarterfinals held on March 30. In this matchup, Concordia faced the Université de Sherbrooke Vert et Or. Concordia entered the playoffs as the fourth-seeded team while Sherbrooke was fifth. Concordia came to play in the quarterfinals.

A dominant 5-0 team win clinched Concordia Stingers a ticket to the semifinals against the top-seeded Université Laval Rouge et Or. The matchup came that same afternoon with a ticket to the provincial finals on the line.

Despite another hard-fought battle, Concordia came up short in the semifinals. Yet, this season represented a step in the right direction for the Concordia Tennis Team. The men’s team put up a tough fight against McGill while the women’s team won their quarterfinal matchup—the coaches feel this is only the beginning.

At the end of the day, both Panizza and Oswald believe that the most important takeaway from being in this club is the enjoyment it brings. “Every week, we tell our players that the goal is to have fun,” Oswald said. “We tell them to enjoy this time of being in university, going to classes with your teammates and enjoying their studies; because by creating a real social link between them, you create a family, and that is the best method of getting better.”

Categories
Baseball Sports

The MLB Regular Season is almost here, and here’s why you should be excited

New rules, new names, and new teams for star players.

The Texas Rangers capped off the 2023 Major League Baseball (MLB) season winning their first World Series in franchise history. The offseason that followed would end up changing the image of how the league now looks going into the 2024 regular season.

Prior to the 2023 season, the MLB unveiled a groundbreaking new rule called the pitch clock. The implementation of the pitch clock gave pitchers 15 seconds between pitches when no runners were on base, and 20 seconds when there were runners on base. In 2024, the plan is to speed the pace of play up even more. 

One of the new rules approved by the league is to trim the pitch clock with runners on base from 20 seconds to 18 this season. On top of this, the amount of visits a coach is allowed to visit the pitching mound in a game will be reduced from five to four. As was the goal last season, the league hopes that these rule changes will reduce stoppages in play and give fans a more exciting product on the field.

Along with these rule changes coming in 2024, there will be no shortage of rookies featured on their respective teams’ opening day lineups. In the batter’s box, the number-two ranked prospect in all of baseball, Jackson Chourio, won his spot on the opening day roster for the Milwaukee Brewers. The 20-year-old put up outstanding numbers last year for the Brewers’ minor league affiliate, posting 91 runs batted in while ending the season with a .282 batting average in 128 games. 

Other notable rookie batters to look out for in 2024 include third baseman Junior Caminero, centre fielder Evan Carter, and left fielder Wyatt Langford. These three batters have all officially made their teams’ opening day lineups.

On the mound, the most notable name to keep an eye out for is2023 first overall pick Paul Skenes. While it has not yet been determined whether he will make the Pittsburgh Pirates’ opening day roster, the 21-year-old flamethrower will more than likely reach the major league field in 2024. Skenes has topped out his pitch velocity at an impressive 102 mph during spring training, most notably striking out the MLB’s top-ranked prospect Jackson Holliday.

Lastly, let’s look at the offseason trades and signings. Not often does a major sports league see its cover athlete get traded or signed elsewhere during an offseason, but Shohei Ohtani did just that this past winter. The reigning American League MVP is moving across Los Angeles from the Angels to the Dodgers. With Ohtani being added to the mix with the 2020 World Series champion Dodgers, the team also added top Japanese pitching prospect Yoshinobu Yamamoto, five-time 20-home run hitter Teoscar Hernandez, and 3.89 career earned-run-average pitcher Tyler Glasnow. The Dodgers have all the components of a star-studded team in 2024.

Three-time all-star and former Cy Young Award winner Corbin Burnes was also on the move this offseason. He will become the top pitcher in the Baltimore Orioles’ rotation this season as the team looks to make a deep playoff run come November.

Lastly, the New York Yankees completed a blockbuster trade with the San Diego Padres to receive Juan Soto—the 25-year-old outfielder who is already a four-time Silver Slugger, three-time all star and World Series champion. Soto will be added to the lethal batting lineup for the Yankees, hitting alongside star players Aaron Judge, Anthony Rizzo, and Giancarlo Stanton.

Though the regular season featured two games on March 20 and 21 during the Seoul Series, the official date for opening day will be on March 28. When the teams hit the field for the first time, fans will be treated to the addition of new rules, rookies starting their major league careers, and all stars starting a new chapter on their new teams. This season has the ingredients for a very exciting summer of baseball. Time will tell which team comes out on top in November.

Our season predictions:

Exciting team to watch this season: With the additions of pitcher Jordan Hicks, third baseman Matt Chapman, and outfielder Jorge Soler, the San Francisco Giants come into 2024 looking like a much more complete team with a high-powered offence and a deep pitching rotation.

Underrated team to watch this season: Look out for the Kansas City Royals. The team has a good combination between rookie and veteran talent, the Royals could be a sneaky pick for a playoff spot in the American League Central Division this season.

World Series champion: There are plenty of teams that are in a ‘win now’ window across the major league. The Braves are coming off a historic season before losing to the Phillies in the playoffs. The Dodgers have loaded up over the offseason. Yet, the team that still shows an immense amount of potential is the Texas Rangers. They now have a World Series under their belt, they have up and coming talent across their lineup in Evan Carter and Wyatt Langford, and still have a very competitive pitching rotation led by Nathan Eovaldi. They are our pick to win it all in 2024.

Categories
Hockey Sports

Stingers Women’s hockey team takes home gold at the National Championships

For the second time in three years, Concordia is the top team in Canada.

The Concordia Stingers Women’s Hockey team won their third-straight Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec (RSEQ) championship on March 3. A 10-4 victory against the Université de Montréal Carabins propelled the Stingers into the U SPORTS National Championship tournament as the top-seeded team in Canada.

To advance to the next round, the Stingers’ had to take down the eighth-seeded University of Saskatchewan Huskies on March 14. The Huskies were coming off a heartbreaking series defeat in the Canada West (CW) quarterfinals, though qualified for the U SPORTS National Championship tournament as the host university.

As the puck dropped for the quarterfinal matchup, the Huskies came out strong on home ice. With nearly 2,400 fans in attendance, the first challenge for the Stingers was to weather the storm in the first ten minutes. Despite some close-range opportunities for the Huskies, Stingers goaltender Jordyn Verbeek kept the game scoreless.

With 11 minutes remaining in the first period, the Stingers drew their first penalty. Before the Huskies could get possession on the delayed penalty, Stingers forward and captain Emmy Fecteau took a shot that fortunately bounced over both the defenders and the Huskies goaltender, giving Concordia a 1-0 lead.

A fierce forecheck for the Stingers allowed forward Émilie Lavoie to linemate Rosalie Bégin-Cyr for the one-timer goal and the 2-0 lead. The Stingers carried this momentum into the third period with the semifinals inching closer.

Two late goals from forward Émilie Lussier capped off the shutout for Verbeek and the 4-0 victory in the quarterfinals. Two more wins and the Stingers were back on top of Canadian women’s hockey.

An off day gave the Stingers the opportunity to enjoy their win and get ready for their semifinal opponent on March 16. The Stingers had to get through the fourth-seeded University of Waterloo Warriors next if they wanted to advance to their third straight National Championship final.

Six minutes into action, the Stingers set the tone. Émilie Lavoie found forward Zoé Thibault wide open in front of the Waterloo goal crease, backhanding the puck five hole on Warriors goaltender Mikayla Schnarr to give Concordia a 1-0 lead. The Stingers were not done in the opening frame.

In what seemed like an innocent rush up the ice, Stingers forward Courtney Rice skated through the Warriors defence and rifled a shot past Schnarr to give Concordia some insurance and a 2-0 lead.

The second period saw the Stingers play a disciplined, balanced game where they outshot the Warriors 14-6 but could not add to their lead. Yet, they would retain their two-goal lead heading into the final frame.

Desperate, the Warriors came into the third period with a power play, and they took advantage almost immediately. A goal 29 seconds into the period cut the Concordia lead in half with plenty of time remaining, 2-1. Concordia responded well in the minutes that followed.

With the clock ticking down, the Warriors found themselves with a golden opportunity to tie the game—on a power play with two minutes remaining. What followed did not favour the Warriors, however.

Stingers forward Jessymaude Drapeau stole the puck, drew the Warriors goalie out of position, and buried the dagger as Concordia was now up 3-1 with one minute remaining. The defeated Warriors did not earn any late opportunities as the Stingers had now clinched a ticket to the National Championship final.

With the vibes high for Concordia, one last opponent stood in the way from being crowned Canadian champions. That final team was the University of Toronto Varsity Blues.

With the stage set for the winner-takes-all game, the Stingers came out buzzing. One minute into the opening frame, Lussier scored her third of the tournament and most importantly, put her team in front 1-0 in the championship final. Just minutes later, the Stingers added to their lead.

Drapeau fired the puck from a sharp angle behind the net that found its way through Toronto goaltender Erica Fryer, making it 2-0 Concordia early. Toronto answered by sharpening up their defence to calm the storm of Stingers goals. They kept the game 2-0 until the third period.

With Concordia doubling Toronto’s shot total, the Stingers were in a good position despite not being able to add to their lead. Toronto came into the third period searching for an answer, but early penalty trouble only helped the Stingers. Bégin-Cyr corralled the puck and took a mid-slot wrister to beat Fryer. It was 3-0 Stingers with the clock on their side.

Toronto pulled their goalie as a last-ditch effort to pull off a miracle comeback, but that was stopped short as they could only get one goal before the final buzzer. 

As the scoreboard hit zero seconds, the Stingers had officially done it. One year after a heartbreaking silver-medal finish, six months after beginning a perfect regular season campaign, and one month after their playoff journey began, the Concordia Stingers had checked off the final box on their season goals list: becoming U SPORTS national champions.

Categories
Hockey News Sports

The three-peat is complete: Stingers women’s hockey wins RSEQ championship

Stingers beat Université de Montréal Carabins in winner-take-all game three.

Following a series win against the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees, the Concordia Stingers women’s hockey team shifted their focus to their next and final opponent in the RSEQ final— the Université de Montréal Carabins.

Though both Montréal and Concordia had clinched their tickets to the U SPORTS National Championship tournament by becoming provincial finalists, there was plenty at stake coming into this series. For the Stingers, a series win would make it their third straight RSEQ championship, a feat that has not been accomplished by Concordia since 2002. On the Montréal side, a first RSEQ title since 2019 was up for grabs, as well as revenge from last year’s heartbreaking final that saw them lose to the Stingers in three games.

The first game of the 2024 RSEQ final took place at the Ed Meagher Arena on Thursday, Feb. 29. Defense on both sides was the story of the first period. Concordia was held to 10 shots while Montréal only managed to total five, meaning quality scoring opportunities were minimal. The first period would come to a close as a scoreless draw.

Thirteen minutes into the second frame, Stingers forward and assistant captain Rosalie Bégin-Cyr broke the deadlock. Forward Jessymaude Drapeau patiently held onto the puck before finding her linemate who buried a shot past Carabins goaltender Aube Racine.

It did not take long before the Carabins evened up the game. A deflected shot from the point found its way past Stingers goaltender Jordyn Verbeek, tying the game 1-1 late in the second period.

As the third period got underway, Montréal took its first lead of the series, scoring one minute into the frame. The Stingers began to show desperation as they fired everything they had at Racine. With five minutes remaining in regulation, a golden opportunity emerged as the Stingers earned a late power play.

On the ensuing advantage, the Stingers tied it. Forward Émilie Lavoie scored on a seeing-eye wrister from the blue line, tying the game 2-2. Unfortunately, the momentum of the Stingers was short-lived.

With less than one minute on the clock, a deflected shot from the Carabins found its way into the Stingers’ cage, sealing game one for the Carabins. Stingers head coach Julie Chu offered some insight on what the message would be going into game two.

“I said to the team [today] the same as I did against Ottawa— ‘we have to reset, we have to get going and make sure that this loss is just a loss for today. So process it as you need to and don’t let it hit your heart,’” Chu shared after the loss. The message sent was received for the Stingers in game two.

As the first period got underway at CEPSUM Arena at the Université de Montréal on Saturday, March 2, the pace of play was the epitome of playoff hockey—fast-paced, physical and scoring opportunities at both ends. The Carabins came out of the gate firing, knowing the RSEQ title was in their hands with a win; but the Stingers knew if they lacked effort, their RSEQ season would end. Despite the quality chances, the first period ended 0-0.

Five minutes into the second period, the Stingers broke the tie. Forward Megan Bureau-Gagnon parked in front of the Montréal net and capitalized on a perfect deflection off a shot from forward Émilie Lussier. Bureau-Gagnon spoke on what it meant to score the opening goal.

“It felt good. The couple of shifts before the goal, we were buzzing around them so it was just a question of timing—and to put that [goal] in, it gave us a little room and we started to play freely which was great.” Once going up 1-0, the Stingers did not look back.

A goal by Drapeau in the second period and a goal by Lavoie in the third gave the Stingers the insurance they needed to close out game two. The Carabins got a goal of their own to narrow the deficit to two, but the Stingers would add an empty netter and win the game by a score of 4-1. Coach Chu spoke about returning home for the winner-take-all game three.

“We love playing at home. For us, we’re going to enjoy [the win] today but we’re going to turn the page really quick because [game three] tomorrow is going to come fast.”

The Ed Meagher Arena saw a packed crowd for the rubber match of the provincial final on Sunday, March 3. As fans supporting both sides piled in, the puck dropped to begin action. In what became a theme in the series, the first period resulted in both goalies making key saves to keep the game scoreless. This would change drastically in period two.

Three minutes into the middle frame, Montréal opened the scoring on a rebound that was put home by forward Marie Terriault. The lead for the Carabins, however, would not last long.

For a second game in a row, Bureau-Gagnon netted a huge goal for the Stingers, this time tying the game 1-1. This ignited the Stingers to take over the play overwhelmingly, resulting in an onslaught of goals.

Four goals by the Stingers over the next 12 minutes put them in command up 5-2, heading into the final period with the championship in their sight. For the players, the three goal lead, although nice, was not satisfying enough.

Following two goals by Drapeau and one from Lussier, defender Camille Richard and forward Emmy Fecteau, Concordia put the game to rest. The Stingers defeated the Carabins soundly by a score of 10-4, clinching their third straight RSEQ title. Coach Chu closed out the RSEQ season by sharing what this win means to the team heading into the National Championship.

“Anytime you win, it builds momentum. If anything, it helps us feel confident that we can go through a game where we are down a goal, where we are going through ups and downs of emotions, where the fans are incredible and the energy is great.”

The U SPORTS National Championship will be the next stop for the Stingers women’s hockey team. The team will head out to the University of Saskatchewan for March 14 where they will face the best university hockey teams from around Canada. The matchups and game times are still to be determined.

Categories
Hockey Sports

Roller coaster semifinal weekend for Stingers Hockey

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.

Categories
Hockey Sports

Senior night success for Stingers hockey

Both Stingers hockey teams came away with wins to close out last home games of regular season.

The Concordia Stingers men’s and women’s hockey teams both played their final home games of the regular season at the Ed Meagher Arena. With these being the final home games of the regular season, the graduating players of both Stingers teams were celebrated after their games.

After the men’s team took to the ice on Feb. 8, upcoming graduates, namely, forward Charles-Antoine Giguère, forward and assistant captain Tyler Hylland, andforward and captain Phélix Martineau, were commemorated. It was an emotional night for head coach Marc-André Elément. 

“The players gave so much time, energy and passion to our program, we always have to acknowledge that,” said Elément post game. “It is such a huge commitment to play hockey and be a student athlete, I am just so proud of them.”

If the Stingers wanted to head into the playoffs on a high note, they would have to beat the Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières Patriotes– the first-placed team in the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) East division standings. 

The Stingers took command early. Forward Nicholas Girouard opened the scoring on a shot that beat Patriotes goaltender Alexis Gravel, Concordia a 1-0 lead just four minutes into the game. Nobody would find the back of the net until the early stages of the second period.

The Patriotes’ second-highest point-scorer, forward Conor Frenette, capitalized on the power play to knot the game at one goal apiece. Scoring opportunities would continue to come at a premium, as the high-powered offence of each team was held to just 14 shots a piece through two periods.

The defence of both sides had the game locked in a stalemate for the first 15 minutes of the third period. Finally, the Concordia broke through. Stingers forward Édouard Charron received a pass from defender Simon Lavigne and scored on a close-range shot past Gravel, opening up a 2-1 Concordia lead.

The Patriotes would pull their goalie and fire all they could at Stingers goaltender Nikolas Hurtubise, but it would not be enough. The Stingers held on to a 2-1 win and closed out their regular season by beating OUA’s top team in the East division.

The Stingers men’s team will return home to Ed Meagher Arena on Friday, Feb. 16 when they take on the the Queen’s University Gaels in game two of the OUA East quarterfinals. On Feb. 14, the Stingers took the first game of the best-of-three series by a score of 3-1. Concordia will look to close out the series this Friday at 7 p.m.

On Feb. 9, it was the Stingers women’s team’s turn to celebrate their seniors. The graduates include defender Sandrine Veillette, goaltender Madison Oakes, forward and assistant captain Justine Yelle, forward and assistant captain Rosalie Bégin-Cyr, as well as forward and captain Emmy Fecteau. After the game, head coach Julie Chu spoke on how much the graduates have meant to the team over the years.

(From left to right) Dave Singh, Julie Chu, Sandrine Veillette, Madison Oakes, Emmy Fecteau, Rosalie Bégin-Cyr Justine Yelle, Devon Thompson and Olivier Gervais
Photo Credit: Concordia Athletics

“All of [the graduates] have had such a big impact on our team’s success and have helped turn the program into what it is today,” said Chu. “Every time you have a chance to honour people who have meant so much to our program, it’s very special and we are extremely grateful for their contributions.” That same success was put onto display early into their game against the Bishop’s University Gaiters.

Stingers’ top goal-scorer, forward Émilie Lussier, scored three goals in the first 14 minutes of the game to cap off a first period hat trick. Just one minute later, forward Jessymaude Drapeau added a goal of her own, opening a 4-0 Stingers lead and forcing the Gaitors to change goaltenders.

In the second period, the Stingers began to defend their lead rather than pressing on offence. The Gaitors got one goal back in the middle frame, but the Stingers were still in command of the game. Concordia owned a 30-11 shot advantage going into the third period.

Two minutes into the final period, forward Chloé Gendreau added a fifth goal for the Stingers as she split the Bishop’s defenders and scored on a beautiful backhand shot. The Gaitors would add a goal of their own, but the Stingers skated away with a win by a score of 5-2. Chu spoke about the team’s performance during this year’s senior night.

“We used our speed and we took care of the puck,” Chu explained. “Doing the little things right will always generate a lot of offense and also allow us to spend less time in the defensive zone. I think we did a lot of that tonight.”

The Stingers women’s team still has one regular season game remaining. They will play on the road against the Université de Montréal Carabins this Friday. After that, the quest is on to defend their RSEQ provincial title.

Categories
Hockey Sports

Stingers hockey takes the ice for Pride Weekend!

The teams take two out of a possible four points against Ottawa as playoffs draw closer.

The Ed Meagher Arena was home to the first annual Pride Weekend on Feb. 3 and 4. Organized iIn partnership with Queer Concordia, Pride Weekend is an event that is very important for the Stingers’ organization. 

“For our team, we always talk about creating an inclusive environment,” said Stingers women’s hockey head coach Julie Chu. “Whether it’s sexual orientation, gender identity, or your ethnicity, it is about coming to a place where everybody can figure out who they are in a safe and welcoming environment.” 

With the festivities underway, the Stingers’ men’s hockey team kicked off the busy weekend of action as they faced off against the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees.

The two teams played tight defense through the first thirty minutes of the game as the physicality kept scoring opportunities to a minimum. Mid-way through the second period, the Gee-Gees finally opened the scoring on a shot that beat goaltender Jordan Naylor. Despite the momentum shifting to the road team, the Stingers struck back seconds later. Stingers’ forward Mathieu Bizier beat Ottawa goaltender Franky Lapenna to cap a dominant shift in the Gee-Gees’ zone, tying the game 1-1.

As the third period began, the intensity between the two teams continued. A big collision along the boards resulted in a power play that Ottawa would take advantage of in a big way. Two goals in a matter of seconds put the Gee-Gees up 3-1 with 10 minutes remaining. Yet, the Stingers would respond again.

A power play opportunity for the Stingers saw forward Tyler Hylland find the back of the net with eight minutes remaining, shifting the momentum back on the home side.

However, a slew of shots and another power play opportunity were not enough for the Stingers to pull even, and Ottawa escaped with a 3-2 victory on the road.

“I found tonight was kind of a playoff game,” Stingers’ head coach Marc-André Elément shared post game. “It’s going to be those types of games in the playoffs and I think we just need to learn from games like [tonight] and get better.”

The Stingers men’s hockey team will wrap up their regular season on Feb. 8 against the Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières Patriotes. Puck drop is set for 7 p.m.

Stingers Defender Kyle Havlena sporting pride tape on his stick blade.
Photo Credit: Concordia Athletics

As Pride Weekend continued, it was time for the Stingers women’s hockey team to take to the ice for their game against the Ottawa Gee-Gees. It did not take long for the Stingers to get on the board first.

Defender Sandrine Veillette found a seam that beat the Ottawa goaltender six minutes into the game, giving the Stingers a 1-0 lead early. Four minutes later, defender Alexandra-Anne Boyer extended the Stingers’ lead on the power play making it a 2-0 game.

The Gee-Gees would get a goal back late in the first period, but forward Rosalie Bégin-Cyr would respond with a goal of her own to regain the two-goal cushion.

Chippy play and staunch goaltending was the story for the majority of the second and third periods. While the teams had a total of 10 power plays in the final 40 minutes of the game, the defenders stood their ground and kept each team off the scoreboard in key moments of the game.

As the clock ran down, Stingers goaltender Arianne Leblanc earned her ninth of the season while the team improved to a perfect 22-0-0 regular season record.

Coach Chu shared post game what the win means to the team. “For sure we have things coming out of each game that we want to work on and get better at in the next week. We will make sure that we keep focusing on one game at a time and make the most of every opportunity.”

It is another big win for the Stingers as it concludes a festive weekend of events.

The Stingers women’s hockey team will continue their sensational regular season campaign on Feb. 9 when they face off against the Bishop’s University Gaiters. Puck drop is set for 7 p.m.

Categories
Hockey Sports

Old-time foes meet in 2024 Corey Cup

The McGill Redbirds and the Concordia Stingers men’s hockey teams will meet on Jan. 31 for the 36th annual Corey Cup game.

Since 1988, the trophy has been given to the winner of one regular season game between McGill and Concordia. The games have been played on both Mcgill and Concordia’s campuses, as well as the historic Montreal Forum and Bell Centre. With the rivalry for what’s at stake, the excitement to win this game never seems to fade.

Looking back at the history of the event, McGill won 19 of the matchups while Concordia won 12. The Stingers hoisted the trophy in the past two Corey Cup matchups.

In 2024, there will be an additional layer of drama and competitiveness. Not only will the historic cup be up for grabs, but also a ticket to the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) men’s hockey playoffs.

As of Jan. 28, a slim four points separate first place in the OUA East division from fourth. It could be the difference between hosting a playoff series or playing on the road. The Redbirds currently sit in first place with a 18-5-2 record while the Stingers sit in fourth, four points behind the Redbirds at 16-7-2.

The Redbirds and Stingers are coming in as two of the hottest teams in the OUA East division. With eight wins in their last 10 games, McGill has sprung up four seeds into the top spot of the division since returning from the Christmas break. Winners of seven of their last 10 games, Concordia has made noise as well. They have maintained a top four position in the division all season, and are safely in the race for home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs. It will be a dogfight to see which teams come out on top in the tightly-contested division.

This game will also be the rubber match of the season series between the two teams. The Stingers won their first regular season game of the year when they beat McGill on Oct. 5, while the Redbirds got their revenge with a 1-0 shutout of the Stingers on Nov. 23. It will be the only game this season where the two teams meet at Ed Meagher Arena, unless a potential playoff rematch is in the cards come February.

The 2024 edition of the Corey Cup game appears to have all the ingredients of a barn-burner. As the regular season winds down and the two rivals meet one final time, the atmosphere at Ed Meagher Arena should be electric.

Categories
Hockey Sports

Stingers hockey teams split their weekend games as playoffs near

Men’s team drops defensive duel while women’s team continues its winning ways.

Ed Meagher Arena was home to a busy weekend of Stingers hockey. The men’s hockey team faced off against the Queen’s University Gaels on Jan. 20. Winners of their last six matches, the men’s hockey team sat in second place in the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) East division standings coming into the game.

Prior to puck drop, only two points separated the top spot in the division from fourth. Queen’s came in five points behind the Stingers, making this contest highly anticipated.

The first period kicked off with a Queen’s penalty that saw Concordia earn their first power play opportunity of the game. As the Stingers maintained possession in the Queen’s defensive zone, forward Vincent Nardonne found defender Simon Lavigne who fired a shot by Gaels’ goaltender Christian Purboo, making it 1-0 Concordia.

Not long after the Stingers tally, Queen’s forward Dalton Duhart, who is currently third in USports for points scored, tied the game 1-1.

As the second period got underway, the physicality between the two teams was increasing as the penalty minutes were adding up. Despite earning a four-minute double-minor power play late in the second frame, the Stingers could not capitalize. They finished the period with 19 shots but Purboo stood tall. Defensively, the Stingers kept high-danger opportunities to the outside of the Queen’s attacking zone, keeping shots away from their own goaltender Jordan Naylor. Neither team would find the back of the net in the second period.

The final frame got off to a quick start. The opportunistic Gaels team buried their second goal of the game coming just two minutes into the period. Shortly after, the Stingers earned an extended five-on-three power play with a chance to tie the game. More chances, but Queen’s made the timely saves, killing the penalty and gaining back the momentum. 

Gabriel Proulx (right) and Dalton Duhart (left) battle for the puck behind the net.
Photo Credited to Concordia Athletics

Stingers’ head coach Marc-André Élément discussed the team’s power play struggles postgame. “You have to give [Queen’s] credit,” Élément said. “They blocked a lot of shots and we will take a look at the video to see where we could improve. They did a good job and we need to execute a little bit better.”

The Stingers continued to claw away with chances in the offensive zone but could not buy a goal. The Gaels added an insurance marker and took the game by a final score of 3-1.

The lack of scoring seen in the men’s game was thrown out the window when the women’s game took place the following day.

The Stingers women’s hockey team faced off against the Bishop’s Gaiters on Jan. 21 in hopes of keeping their undefeated record alive. Concordia entered the game with a perfect 17-0-0 record, atop the Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec (RSEQ) division standings and the USports women’s hockey rankings for yet another week.

The first period got off to an action-filled start. Stingers forward Émilie Lavoie got the scoring started with a breakaway goal put top shelf behind Gaiters’ netminder Erika Gagnon. In the next five minutes of play, Bishop’s scored back to back goals to get a lead of their own, but this would be short-lived as well.

Just nine seconds after the Bishop’s go-ahead goal, Stingers defender Léonie Philbert scored to get the momentum back on the home side. Forward Rosalie Bégin-Cyr followed this up with a wrist-shot goal, giving the Stingers a 3-2 lead after the first period.

With frustration building for the Gaiters in the second frame, the penalty minutes continued to add up. The Stingers saw themselves on five power plays in the period, three of which they would score on. Both teams traded even-strength goals, resulting in a 7-3 score after 40 minutes of play.

The Stingers changed their game plan in the final period, sitting back on their offensive forecheck and maintaining solid defensive play. The Gaiters were held to just four shots in the third period, earning the Stingers the 7-3 victory on home ice.

Despite splitting the two games over the weekend, both Stingers teams sit in good positions with the playoffs around the corner. The men’s team will go on the road for the next two games and return home for their final three. They hit the ice next on Jan. 25 against the Royal Military College Paladins. Meanwhile, the women’s team sits peacefully atop their division in the RSEQ with seven regular season games remaining. They will face off against the Carleton Ravens in their next game on Jan. 26.

Categories
Hockey Sports

The PWHL era of hockey has begun

The new league continues to break barriers for women’s hockey just days into its start.

When the puck was dropped for the first time on Jan. 1 in Toronto, it was apparent that the new Professional Women’s Hockey League (PWHL) was bound for success.

In the span of just four months, the league has been built from the ground up. In September, each team took part in the first PWHL draft where rosters began to take shape. Fans had their first glance at what each roster would look like, sparking interest and ticket sales through the fall months. By November, teams had finalized their rosters and prepared for training camp. Once the calendar flipped to 2024, the time for teams to take to the ice was finally here.

The inaugural game saw Toronto host New York at the Mattamy Athletic Centre. The game reached a historic viewership, gathering 2.9 million views through its coverage on CBC, Sportsnet, and TSN. On top of this, Minnesota hosted Montreal on Jan. 6 in front of 13,316 fans, a new record for a professional women’s hockey game.

Locally, Montreal played their franchise’s first home game on Jan. 13. The game took place at the sold-out Verdun Auditorium in front of 3,245 fans. The large crowd at the historic venue made for an electrifying home opener. With names like Ann-Renee Desbiens, Erin Ambrose, and superstar forward Marie-Philip Poulin, it should be no surprise that Montreal’s passionate fan base is ready for a second professional hockey team. The team will split the remainder of its home games this season by playing at the Verdun Auditorium and Place Bell in Laval. 

All of the milestones this new league has already accomplished is an outstanding sign of what is yet to come. It is sometimes tough to gauge how a brand new league is doing in terms of interest from the first week of its existence. In the case of the PWHL, there is no debate that fans are ecstatic to see the action and talent this league has to offer.

As the season progresses, the PWHL will undoubtedly continue to display the skills and talent of its star players. For the first time outside of non-league tournaments, we are seeing a best-on-best professional women’s hockey league. It is the beginning of a new era— an era that is truly exciting for the players, the cities, and the fans of women’s hockey.

Categories
Basketball Hockey Sports

The new year boasts riveting home openers for the Stingers

Stingers women’s hockey stays undefeated, while the men’s and women’s basketball teams show grit against rivals at home in the new year.

The Concordia Stingers’ women’s hockey team picked up where they left off in 2023, skating to a decisive 7-0 victory over the Carleton Ravens. Both women’s and men’s basketball teams faced McGill on Thursday night, and the gym was packed for an electric night. Both Stingers squads showed tremendous grit, as matchups against McGill always spark extra emotion.

Coming into the winter break with a perfect 13-0-0 record, the Stingers have been at the top of the USports women’s hockey rankings since Nov. 7. While the team’s record speaks for itself, the fashion in which the Stingers are winning is simply remarkable.

It is not everyday that a team has six different players scoring at a point-per-game pace. But with Concordia’s Émilie Lussier, Jessymaude Drapeau, Émilie Lavoie, Chloé Gendreau, Emmy Fecteau, and Léonie Philbert, we’re witnessing this rarity. Moreover, goaltenders Arianne Leblanc and Jordyn Verbeek are ranked in the top five for goals-against average in the USports national rankings. The Stingers offensive dominance was put on display yet again when they faced off against Carleton on Jan. 6.

Right off the opening faceoff, the Stingers jumped in front of their opponents. Forwards Chloé Gendreau and Jessymaude Drapeau both scored power-play goals in the first three minutes of the game, giving the Stingers a 2-0 cushion early.

Shutdown defence and a consistent forecheck from the Stingers continued through the second period. Forwards Émilie Lavoie, Rosalie Parent, and Rosalie Bégin-Cyr all added goals of their own in the middle frame, extending the Stingers lead to 5-0.

In the final 20 minutes, Gendreau and forward Caroline Moquin-Joubert added one more goal each, while goaltender Jordyn Verbeek secured a shutout and her eighth win of the season. The Stingers’ 7-0 victory moved them to a 14-0-0 record, which was followed by a 5-0 win against the Montréal Carabins, as well as a 5-1 win against the McGill Martlets. They will look to stick to their winning ways when they faceoff at the Ottawa Gee-Gees on Jan. 19.

Concordia Stingers women’s and men’s basketball teams faced McGill on Thursday, and the gym was packed for an electric night. Both teams showed tremendous grit, as matchups against McGill always spark extra emotion.

The women’s basketball team started off hot in the first quarter. As the Martlets showed consistent offensive pressure, the Stingers displayed tough defence. Stingers forward Gretta-Olivia Ineza executed a steal and three defensive rebounds throughout her 34 minutes of gametime. However, forcing McGill to commit a shot clock violation and a few more close-calls wasn’t enough—the Stinger’s largest lead of the game was only by six points towards the end of the first quarter. At the same time, the Stingers put up their best scoring quarter of the game, putting up 20 points.

The two top scorers of the game played on the away side, as centre Kristy Awikeh and point guard Daniella Mbengo put up 21 and 17 points, respectively. Both showed incredible stamina to find the play, regardless of how much pressure was applied. Mbengo, who played for 30 minutes, recorded six assists, more than anyone else on the court, making it look easy to find the right decisions in tough situations. She also made all five of her free throws. 

It was too little too late for the Stingers, as the Martlets were up by 15 points towards the end of the third quarter, and started the last quarter ahead by 11. It seemed as though star point guard Areej Burgonio’s nasty fadeaway-and-one three-pointer reignited the flame for the home team in the last seconds of the third quarter. The crowd erupted into a cacophony as she held up three fingers with both her hands from the ground. Despite exuberant and desperate efforts in the last 12 minutes of the game, it seemed as though Burgonio’s efforts weren’t enough. The Stingers lost 74-66.

“[McGill] played with a lot more heart, a lot more grit,” said Stingers head coach Tenicha Gittens. “The biggest thing for me was on the rebounds. [McGill had] 25 rebounds and we got 16. You’re not going to win a game like that. Pretty much everything else is even on the stat sheet.” Despite the eventual loss, Gittens seemed satisfied with the reduction of caused turnovers compared to before the break.

“We’re trying to get to the championship game and win it,” the head coach concluded. “So you can’t just sit in your loss. This can break us, or it can make us better. And we’re going to make it make us better.”

The Stingers then lost to the Martlets 68-50 on Saturday. Concordia sits in third place out of five in the RSEQ, with a 4-4 record.

The men’s game was a real nail-biter as the teams traded even blows throughout the 48-minute period. In fact, the two teams alternated in out-scoring each other for each quarter, and they both layed down a hefty 29 points in the last, which sounds like an NBA stat.

The Stingers showed incredible team depth, as five of the seven bench players dropped an accumulative 28 points. This included new recruit Gabriel Bourdages, who recorded five rebounds, a steal, a block, and seven points within nine minutes of his debut. “I thought he showed some really good minutes in the first half,” said head coach Rastko Popović after the game. “He’s gonna get better as we get to practise.”

On the other hand, while the McGill Redbirds didn’t display much  depth, they had a great sixth man, power forward Joshua Soifer. The 4-man recorded 12 points, two assists, two rebounds and a steal in 15 minutes of playing time.

Amongst the players on the Concordia team, the guards shined the brightest. Alec Phaneuf and Sami Jahan together stole the show combining for 36 points, seven assists, eight rebounds and making all of their 11 free throws. “I thought [Phaneuf] was doing a great job in the third quarter when he built the nine-point lead,” said coach Popović.“Then we had one possession where we didn’t execute and then our point guards really made a lot of huge plays down the stretch.” 

Junior Mercy came off the bench and had a few highlight plays in the first half, including a nasty steal for a coast-to-coast and one layup, as well as a huge block and assist play to Bourdages.

Yet another third-quarter highlight occurred when centre Bradley Louidon pulled a reverse slam dunk on the towering opposing star centre Saransh Padhy, and caused an eruption from the crowd, as well as heated arguments from both benches. Despite many fouls and a missed call on a McGill flop, the Stingers pulled an 89-86 win for their first game of 2024. 

“I think our defence has to be more consistent,” Popović said. “That’s way too many points we gave up today, so you know we’ve got to clean up our defence and a little bit better execution offensively and I think we should be okay. It’s gonna be a hard game on the road, so we’ve got to get ready.”

The Stingers then beat the Redbirds 71-61 on Saturday. Concordia currently sits in second place in the RSEQ with a 6-2 record, just under UQÀM. 

Exit mobile version