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Growing the game for the next generation

Participation in Winter Classic step in the right direction for women’s hockey and its popularity

“When you step on the ice, there’s always that awe moment, whether you want to admit it or not,” Stingers interim head coach Julie Chu told NHL.com. “Some of us who’ve had a chance to experience it a few more times—and maybe worked on the mental confirmation of that moment—are able to shift out of that a little bit quicker and back to the focus of it.”

Julie Chu is currently Interim Head Coach of the Stingers women’s hockey team and has played Olympic hockey. Photo by Marie-Pierre Savard.

Chu was talking about The Montreal Canadiennes of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League (CWHL) facing off against the Boston Pride of the National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL) in a New Year’s Eve showdown at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts. The outdoor game was the first ever for women’s hockey. The NHL officially announced that the game between the Pride and Les Canadiennes would take place ahead of the 2016 Winter Classic between the Montreal Canadiens and the Boston Bruins on New Year’s Day.

“This is really just about two teams wanting to expose the women’s game to the fans and to the world,” said CWHL commissioner Brenda Andress, according to Sportsnet.

A Statistics Canada report published in 2013 revealed that in 2010, 23 per cent of men participated in hockey regularly, compared to only about four per cent of women. Participating in the Winter Classic and its festivities was therefore a step in growing the women’s game in Canada and around the world. But how else have Les Canadiennes been trying to get some recognition for the women’s game?

Women’s hockey is continuously growing in Canada and around the world. Photo by Marie-Pierre Savard.

In March of 2015, Les Canadiennes entered a partnership with the Montreal Canadiens, in the hopes of attracting more young girls to play hockey. Les Canadiennes will be participating in Habs events like the Canadiens annual blood drive, and various hockey camps. The Habs will also be helping the women’s team in promotions and with selling their merchandise. Chu said that being associated with the Canadiens is crucial and is definitely a step in the right direction in getting women’s hockey more recognition in this country.

“I think it’s huge in the sense that the Montreal Canadiens have a vast network to be able to use their resources to get out into the community and that’s the piece that we were missing,” Chu said. “We tried our best to get out there but we have limited resources and I think that’s going to be huge when we get a chance to be in the visible eye. More girls are going to be able to see us as their role models and have the opportunities to ask their families or their parents, ‘Can I play hockey?’ and hopefully get interested in the sport. When it’s present and in visible sight, it makes it easier to grow the sport that we love so much.”

Chu also said that it is important for women’s hockey players to get out into the communities they play in and inspire younger girls to engage in athletics.

One of Chu’s role models growing up was Cammi Granato, who was vital in the growth of women’s hockey in the United States. Granato, like Chu, began playing hockey on all-boys teams. She helped the first ever U.S. national team win a silver medal at the 1990 World Championships. After playing for Providence College, Granato earned a Master’s degree at Concordia while playing for the Stingers. She then captained the U.S. at the 1998 Olympics, beating Canada in the gold medal game, and was named the American flag bearer at the closing ceremonies. In 2010, Granato was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.

“I got a chance to look up to [Granato], who was a huge figure in women’s hockey on the U.S. side,” Chu said. “[She’s] so awesome and so humble. When I got a chance to play with her, I recognized what an incredible person she was, besides being an incredible hockey player.”

Chu resembles her biggest role model in many ways. Like Granato, the Fairfield, CT native is a decorated Olympian. Besides her silver medal from Sochi, Chu also won a silver medal at the Olympics in 2002 and 2010 as well as a bronze medal in the 2006 Olympics. She captained the U.S. team to a gold medal in the 2013 World Championships and was also the U.S. flag bearer at the closing ceremonies at the 2014 Winter Games.

Still, despite Chu’s impressive resumé, despite Granato’s influence and despite the NHL partnering with Les Canadiennes and the Pride to play an outdoor game in front of thousands of people, there is no perfect solution to growing women’s sports around the world. This is an issue, mainly because of the mentality that hockey is considered a man’s game, Chu said. She added that a change in mentality among fans, players and parents alike is necessary to grow women’s hockey, or any female sport. In Chu’s experience growing up as a female hockey player, she said that in many cases, it was the parents who would be negative towards the idea of having a girl on the team.

“[The parents] were the ones that had the little comments about ‘girls shouldn’t be playing hockey’ or ‘good luck that you have a girl on your team, she’s probably not very good,’” Chu said. “Unfortunately, it is often the parents that shape the mentality of their children. The kids half the time were just like, ‘Let’s play.’”

Chu also believes that many hockey fans don’t follow women’s hockey because they think it isn’t physical enough. But Chu said they are wrong.

“I’ve had people come up to me after some games when we played Canada at the Olympics and they say: ‘Are you sure there’s no checking in your game?’” Chu said. “I think there’s always a perception that non-checking hockey means there is no contact. But there’s plenty of physical contact within our game, it’s just in a more controlled manner, as we go into the boards, we can’t necessarily do the big full-out body checks. But there is plenty of body contact. We still have to play a physical game.”

In the end, however, Les Canadiennes are doing everything they can to make their games easily accessible to families; they play on the weekend, and their tickets are only $15 per person. They have increased their attendance league-wide from 2,000 in 2008 to 12,000 at the end of last season, according to thehockeynews.com. Though Chu said the CWHL is a long way from the million dollar contracts of the NHL, she is confident the league is headed in the right direction. For example, she said the CWHL’s operating budget has grown from about $200,000 in 2008 to $1.5 million this season. Today, CWHL teams have entered partnerships with NHL clubs in their respective cities. Though the CWHL players don’t get paid yet, the league plans to begin paying their players as of the 2017-18 season.

“There are [always] some risks in paying players, and not being able to sustain it,” Chu said. “But I think [the league] is trying to do their diligence to make sure that as we’re continuing to progress, that we don’t throw [paying players] out for a year and then have to retract it. Obviously, that might always happen, but what the league has been doing is tremendous and the growth that we’ve seen year-to-year has been there and we’re just going to continue to push forward.”

It may be a slow ascent for the CWHL and women’s hockey, but the sport is a growing one nonetheless. With the help of Chu and her Les Canadiennes teammates, it seems young girls can look forward to playing more organized hockey in the future.

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Sports in the news

Reporting to camp

It’s back to business for the Montreal Canadiens on Sept. 17, as they’re set to begin training camp at their practice facility in Brossard. The team is in the midst of their second rookie camp this summer, which ends on Wednesday. Twenty-six players have participated in the camp, which included a rookie tournament in London, Ontario against rookies from the Pittsburgh Penguins, Ottawa Senators and Toronto Maple Leafs. Many of the rookies attending camp are accepted to join the team’s veterans at the main camp. The Habs will play their first preseason game on Sept. 22 against the Leafs, and will play their first regular season game against the same club on Oct. 6. The team also announced at their annual golf tournament last week that they will be naming a captain before opening night.

Graphic by Charlotte Bracho.

Jays continue playoff push

Coming off a 5-0 loss to their division rival, the New York Yankees, the Toronto Blue Jays will be in Atlanta on Tuesday night, hoping to gain some ground in the American League East playoff race. With under a month left of the regular season, the Jays are currently three and a half games up on the Yankees for the AL lead. Shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, who arrived in Toronto in July via trade from Colorado, could miss up to three weeks with a cracked shoulder blade he suffered in this weekend’s series against New York. It would be the first time since their 1993 World Series win that the Blue Jays see MLB playoff action.

Canada claims bronze

Canada took home the bronze medal at the 2015 International Basketball Federation Americas championship on Saturday, beating Mexico 87-86. Despite the third place finish, the top-seeded Canadians failed to qualify for the 2016 summer games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. They needed at least a second place finish to qualify, but lost in the semi-finals to the eventual Venezuelan champs, blowing a seven-point lead with under four minutes left. Canada will have one last chance to qualify for the Olympics, something they haven’t done since 2000, next summer when the play in a qualifier tournament, according to The Canadian Press.

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Swatting the Stinger bee aside for a cleaner look

Pack your bags Buzz, Concordia’s logo is reinvented, refreshed and back bigger and better than ever

Photo by Andrej Ivanov.

A new school year ushers in a new season for Concordia athletics. This year however, each team will also be sporting new uniforms, as the traditional Stinger bee logo has been disbanded. This comes after the university’s athletics department decided it was time for an aesthetic revamping.

Each team will begin sporting the new logo—which will still use the traditional yellow and burgundy—when they start each of their respective seasons this year.

“We wanted our new image to transcend sports and competition,” noted University President Alan Shepard. “We also had a unique opportunity to further strengthen the already deep sense of pride that exists within the Concordia community.”

According to Athletic Director Patrick Boivin, the purpose of Concordia’s rebranding is to help strengthen the Stinger pride between its athletes and students alike.

“One of our biggest challenges is … trying to harness attention and trying to build our fanbase and our engagement with our fanbase and the big priority there was the students” said Boivin.

[Based on] the feedback that we got from the student athletes, they themselves didn’t feel a deep sense of engagement towards [other sports teams]. They did for their own individual teams, but didn’t toward being a part of a larger Stinger group,” commented Boivin.

Though the iconic bee logo will no longer be featured on the varsity team’s uniforms, it will still have a place on campus. For example, a mural of the stinger has been completed on the side of the football stands.

“We’re not going to be known and we’re not going to be seen primarily through the bee; it will be through the new logo,” said Boivin. “[But] we haven’t put the bee in the garbage, [it’s just] gotten a facelift.”

According to Boivin, the process of rebranding started almost as soon as he took the Concordia athletics director position in the summer of 2013. Since then, Boivin and his staff, along with the help of past and present student-athletes, worked tirelessly on the rebranding project.

“When you look at the logo, you clearly see  … it’s very modern and at the same time it can be applied in a very retro and traditional way,” said Boivin.

“We thought it was a good mirror to the university itself: Concordia now is very strong on research, it’s very modern, it’s certainly trying to be a very innovative university and in that regard, the logo fits. It has a much more retro feel than the bee ever would have had.”

Boivin and his team hope the new logo will unite the school, regardless of on-field results.

“We have historically gone through a little more adversity [in comparison to schools like Laval]. We’ve never been one of those reigning schools at the top… I think we’re going to have go through more adversity in the next couple of years before we’re able to establish ourselves or our programs as being perennial contenders”.

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The Stinger bee no longer – at least on their logo, anyways

A new school year brings a new season for the Concordia Stinger varsity teams. This year, each team will also be wearing a new uniform, as the traditional Stinger bee logo will no longer be on any of the athlete’s attire. This comes after the university has decided it was time to give its athletics a facelift.

Photo by Andrej Ivanov

Each team will begin wearing the new logo—which will still have its usual yellow and burgundy—on their new uniforms when they each start their own seasons.

“We wanted our new image to transcend sports and competition,” says university president Alan Shepard. “We also had a unique opportunity to further strengthen the already deep sense of pride that exists within the Concordia community.”

You can see the new uniforms for the first time on Friday, Sept. 4, when the Concordia Stingers football team host the Sherbrooke Vert et Or at 7 p.m.

 

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Is there still a “buzz” surrounding the Impact?

Questionable decisions made recently by management make it hard to care about the team

The Montreal Impact made history two weeks ago when they became the first Canadian soccer team to win a two-legged series against a Mexican opponent in the CONCACAF Champions League on Tuesday, after tying Pachuca 1-1 at the Olympic Stadium on March 3. The teams also played out to a 2-2 draw in the first leg of the series.

Photo courtesy of Milas Page on Flickr.

The tie was all the Impact needed to advance into the semi-finals of the tournament, gaining the chance to win the championship, which is awarded annually to the best club in North and Central America.

I’ve always been a huge Impact fan, but I can’t find myself getting excited to watch them play in this CONCACAF tournament because of questionable decisions made by management over the years.

The Impact entered Major League Soccer (MLS) in 2012. The team impressed in their inaugural season, ending the season with a 12-16-6 record with 42 points. They brought in Italian nationals Alessandro Nesta and Marco Di Vaio, as well as Brazilian midfielder Felipe Martins. With the addition of Brossard-native Patrice Bernier, the future was bright for the club going into the 2013 season… or so we thought.

After a quick start to the 2013 season, the team went on a downward spiral and won just two of their final 11 games. They barely squeaked into the playoffs and lost in the first round to the Houston Dynamo.

One would think that big changes were imminent in the following offseason, but apparently not. Yes, Joey Saputo, president of the Impact, fired the team’s coach at the time, Marco Schallibaum, and replaced him with Frank Klopas. But sadly, a coach can’t carry a team. The product on the field didn’t change from 2013 to 2014, and neither did the results. The team finished dead last in the league in 2014, and didn’t win a road game all season.

Besides not doing anything in the offseason to improve the squad, there were so many things, in my opinion, that management did wrong that led to that miserable season.

One major problem is that Saputo is too family-oriented. Usually that would seem like a good thing, but not in this case. For example, Nick De Santis has been a part of the club since 1993. He started as a player, became the head coach in 2008 and then was promoted to manager in 2011. When someone has been a part of a team for so long, there is the loyalty factor to consider, and I think that’s why it took Saputo so long for him to finally let De Santis go over the summer.

Another problem is the inconsistency of the head coaching position. Though Saputo was patient in firing his friend, he has shown great impatience with other coaches. Since 2008, the Impact have had six coaches. Since entering the MLS, only Klopas coached the team in back-to-back seasons. And after last season’s disaster, I’m not sure how much longer Klopas has. In my opinion, Jesse Marsch, who was the team’s first coach in the MLS, did a fine job in this first season, even if the team didn’t make the playoffs.

Marsch clearly loved this city, so much so that he became pretty good in French, and even started giving interviews in French. So, why was he fired? Why couldn’t he be given a chance to see what he could really do in the second year? The team overachieved in their expansion year, unlike most expansion teams, who draw players from other teams and tend to struggle in their first couple seasons. You have to give some credit to the coach, no?

The final straw was when management started taking shots at former players, then blamed the bad season on lack of leadership. To me, that’s the epitome of unprofessionalism.
Last year, I wrote an op-ed piece for The Concordian on former Impact defender Jeb Brovsky, about why I thought he was Montreal’s unsung hero. He was so much a part of our community, especially through his charity Peace Pandemic. He was learning French, and was always seen enjoying Montreal’s finest attractions. Whether it was watching a Habs game, attending the Formula 1, or something as simple as talking to fans at the Jean Talon Market, he quickly became my favourite player for accepting our city. In June, Brovsky had a falling out with coaching staff and management over playing time.

He asked to be traded and was ultimately dealt to the expansion franchise NYCFC. This trade stung, mainly because the Impact gave Brovsky an undeserved slap in the face afterwards.

A few weeks after the trade, the team held an open practice for season-ticket holders, followed by a staff and players meet-and-greet. Giovanni Sardo, who covered the Impact for CJAD, Mount Royal Soccer and TSN 690 for three years, was also a season-ticket holder and in attendance. Sardo said that Saputo and Klopas opened the session by saying that they only wanted players who truly wanted to be on the team, players who bled blue, black and white. So, Sardo asked Saputo about Brovsky.

“Brovsky, during his time here, was one of the most active players in the community,” Sardo said. “He was a fan-favourite. He always gave his all for the team. It was 100 per cent all the time. He even bled, literally, for the team [when he broke his nose during a game last year but finished the game anyways]. I asked whether or not that fit their description of the type of player they wanted. Granted, he is not the best player in the league but he was a solid player on the defensive line and a leader within the team.”

Klopas himself said after last season that leadership was one thing that was missing in the locker room that season. So why would they trade away a player with a quality that you feel there wasn’t enough of?

“[Saputo and Klopas] stated that [Brovsky] demanded a trade,” Sardo said. “That, he wasn’t happy in Montreal and that his wife Caitlin wasn’t happy here and that she stated this often through Twitter and her blog. Both Klopas and Saputo said that they traded him because he didn’t want to be here and was unhappy.”

As soon as Sardo made these comments public on Twitter, they quickly got to Brovsky and his wife. The very next day, Brovsky asked on Twitter: “Does anyone have a link or script from this phantom ‘blog’ that was spoken of yesterday? My wife and I would both love to read it. #Merci.”

“This is what I didn’t like about this reply,” Sardo said. “If he didn’t want to be here, why would he work so hard every time he was on the field? If he didn’t want to be here, why would he be so actively involved in the community? Why ‘air out’ the team’s dirty laundry to make yourself seem like the good guy?”

I completely agree. Anyone can do a Google search to see if Brovsky’s wife had a blog, and clearly she didn’t. Saputo openly bashed one of his former employees to his fans with lies. What does that say about him? And then Saputo had the guts to the tell The Canadian Press in February that “the buzz [for the Impact] is not there anymore” when it was announced that the team fell $2 million short of their target season ticket sales last year. As of the publishing of the article in February, the team had only sold 5,000 season tickets. Well, excuse me for not feeling “the buzz,” Mr. Saputo.

Maybe it’s time to own up to your mistakes.

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Olivier Hinse is ready to lead the charge

Stingers’ new hockey captain confident his team will be better than ever

When the Concordia Stingers men’s hockey team lost its captain and long-time forward George Lovatsis at the end of the 2013-2014 season, the team had some big shoes to fill. But head coach Kevin Figsby didn’t have to look far to find his next captain: six-foot-two centre Olivier Hinse, who is entering his third season with the Stingers, was more than ready to wear the C on his chest.

“I’m excited [to assume the captaincy]. I’m not a guy who’s going to talk a lot in the dressing room. On the ice, I know I can do the job. I’m working hard everyday. I’m not stressed with the [captain] role, I like it. I like making the guys feel like they’re part of the family,” he said.

Hinse’s hockey career began an hour and a half southeast of Montreal, in his hometown of Sherbrooke, at the age of seven. Originally a speed skater, Hinse hated the sport and begged his mom to let him play hockey instead.

Photo by Brianna Thicke

Hinse then bounced around Quebec during his teenage years. At 16, Hinse played Midget AAA in Magog, before being a fifth-round pick of the Val-D’or Foreurs of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. He never played with the Foreurs, but was traded to the Victoriaville Tigres a year later. He made his major junior debut with Victoriaville in 2008 and played there for a year and a half, before being traded to the Quebec Remparts, a team then coached by Montreal Canadiens hall-of-famer Patrick Roy. He played his final junior season for the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada before coming to Concordia.

Hinse hit the highest and lowest points of his hockey career so far while playing in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. His least favourite memory?

“That’s easy. When I broke my jaw. I received a shot in the face in junior,” he said. He missed the last 10 games of the season and the entire playoffs because of his broken jaw. Despite that injury, Hinse will never forget the playoff run he had with the Remparts in 2010.

“When I was in Quebec, we had a playoff game [against the Acadie-Bathurst Titan], we went to overtime, and I scored [the overtime winner], in front of all the fans,” he said. “It was crazy. Then, the night after, we had another game. It went to overtime, and I scored [the game winner] again. It was the biggest moment of my career.”

If he learned anything while playing in junior, it was how to be mature and responsible, a quality he has taken with him to the Stingers.

“[Even though] there’s a big group of adults taking care of you, if you’re not responsible or not mature enough, it can go the wrong way,” he said. “Being responsible is the biggest thing I’ve learned and that helped me when I got to university. It’s not the same. Now, you do your own thing.”

Last season, Hinse led the Stingers offensively with 35 points, including 18 goals, good enough to rank third in the Ontario University Athletics division. Hinse was the Ontario University Athletics East nominee for the Randy Gregg Award for the 2013-2014 season, an award  “presented annually to the athlete who best exhibits outstanding achievement in hockey, academics and community involvement,” according to the Stingers website.

Hinse’s play helped lead Concordia to its first playoff appearance since 2011. Although they fell to their rival, the McGill Redmen, Hinse believes the team can rebound from their playoff loss and build from last season.

“With the team we have this year, we can have a long run,” he said. “I know we’re going to win the first round. [After that], the championship is close. We’re not far off [from that championship]. We have a lot of recruits, but they’re really good, so with the team we have this year, we can go to the top.”

Photo by Brianna Thicke

The Stingers had a young team last season, with 13 first-year players on the roster, but still managed to make the playoffs. Hinse believes having one more year under their belt will make a big difference.

“Maturity is a big thing, especially in university hockey. It’s a fast game, there’s a lot of hitting,” he said. “So, if you’re not mature enough, you’re going to be scared and you’re not going to be good. With a year [of experience], you’re better.”

Hinse will be going into his third year in child studies at Concordia. As a francophone, going to an English school wasn’t a tough decision.

“Nowadays, you need English everywhere,” he said. “You need to speak in English everywhere, if you want a good job, if you want to travel, you need to know how to speak English.”

Hinse has plans to open his own daycare once he’s done school, and wants to teach the kids both English and French, while including sports in the program as well.

But Hinse is not giving up on his dream to play in the NHL just yet.

“I want to maybe go to Europe, to play a couple of years of professional hockey. If it all works out, maybe I’ll get a tryout to play in the AHL [the NHL’s farm system], because my dream is still to play in the NHL, that’s for sure. If I can get a tryout, why not? After that, I’m starting my daycare,” he said.

For now, you’ll find Hinse at the Ed Meagher Arena with the C on his chest, hoping to lead his Concordia Stingers to their second straight playoff berth.

Concordia’s first regular season game will be at Carleton on Oct. 3, before coming home and playing Carleton again for their home opener on Oct.10.

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Jeb Brovsky: Montreal’s unsung hero

The Impact midfielder has embraced this city with a smile

Photo by Abdallahh on Flickr

In a city where the Montreal Canadiens are the number one sports franchise, where people live, breathe, and dream about the bleu, blanc et rouge, so much so that hockey is considered a religion more than a sport, sometimes the city’s other teams, and their athletes, can get overlooked.

In a city with so much past sports success (the Habs have won a record 24 Stanley Cups since 1909), there is always so much fan pressure to win. With the 24/7 hype that surrounds the Canadiens, some fans often fail to notice the work of some of Montreal’s finest athletes that don’t play for the Habs.

One perfect example is Jeb Brovsky, a defender for the Montreal Impact. If you’re asking, Jeb who? then the point has been proven. The Lakewood, Colo., native came to Montreal in 2011 when the Impact picked him in the Major League Soccer (MLS) Expansion Draft from the Vancouver Whitecaps. When you look at Brovsky’s work and what he has done for this city, for the game of soccer and for kids around the world, it cannot and should not be overlooked simply because he’s not a hockey player.

Unlike many hockey players who are reluctant to come to Montreal, Brovsky arrived here with open arms. On his Twitter account, he often tweets in both languages, and according to an article in The Globe and Mail in May 2012, he was doing whatever he could to be more fluent. The effort itself should already have won the hearts of all of Quebec. If he were playing for the Canadiens, he would have received much more praise for the effort.

In the last minutes of a game against the Whitecaps back in May, Brovsky’s nose was broken after he accidentally collided with Vancouver defender Jordan Harvey, as they both were trying to go for a header. Brovsky left the field momentarily with a bloodied face. However, he quickly returned to finish the game, getting much admiration from the team.

“He’s my hero,” MLSSoccer.com reports teammate Hassoun Camara said at the time. “I mean, he strings games together regularly, and at a high level. I’m really proud to play with a player like him. With the mentality he instills in his partners, he’s an example.”

In 2010, Brovsky founded his non-profit organization called Peace Pandemic. He and his wife, Caitlin, have travelled around the world, mainly in Guatemala and India, “to teach leadership and nonviolence through sports camps and to facilitate cross-cultural connections between kids, all who can be future leaders of peace, giving them the chance to make an impact in their own communities,” according to the organization’s official website.

“Peace Pandemic’s mission is to empower youth through peaceful action,” Brovsky said, according to the Peace Pandemic website. “Peace Pandemic (or at least the idea of Peace Pandemic) began when I was younger. I was exposed to violence at a young age; tragedies like the events that occurred at Columbine High School where I grew up, were close to home and I learned some lessons the hard way.”

In November, the 25-year-old was nominated for the MLS WORKS Humanitarian of the Year Award, given to a player “for his outstanding work within the local and international communities,” according to the Impact official website. The award however, went to Matt Reis of the New England Revolution.

His work with his organization and his attitude coming into Montreal shows what kind of person he is. All athletes do charity work in the city they play in, including the Canadiens, but players like Brovsky should get just as much attention as CH players do. Unfortunately, in a city like Montreal, where the Habs mean everything and anything, it’s hard for that to happen. But if you’re ever looking for inspiration Montreal, just know that instead of looking inside the Bell Centre,you should try going across town at the Saputo Stadium instead.

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Caroline Ouellette returns to Concordia for friendly game

The university brings back Olympian to help develop women’s university hockey in Canada

Photo by Brianna Thicke

Members of the Concordia Stingers women’s hockey team returned to Ed Meagher arena on Saturday afternoon. But this time it wasn’t a usual Canadian Interuniversity Sports (CIS) team wearing the visiting colours.

Former Stinger and four-time Olympic gold medalist, Caroline Ouellette, and some of her Montreal Stars teammates teamed up with the Stingers for a friendly game against Director of Recreation and Athletics, Patrick Boivin, and some of his friends, along with Adam Nugent-Hopkins and Kyle Armstrong from the men’s hockey team.

Saturday marked the first time Ouellette was at Concordia since the university renovated the arena back in the summer. The Stars forward played for the Stingers in 2001 and coached the team last year, but spent the past year with the Canadian national team. Ouellette captained Team Canada to a gold medal at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

This event was to celebrate her career as an athlete, and to raise awareness for women’s hockey programs in Canada, said Boivin.

“She’s the most decorated athlete and ex-Stinger we have,” he said. “Alexandre Bilodeau [comes to Concordia]. He’s a student at JMSB. But he never actually played for us.”

“[We’re] raising awareness for women’s hockey and the role we can play as a university in women’s hockey.”

Boivin said that it’s important that women hockey players know that if they want to go to university and continue playing hockey, that they don’t feel they have to go to the US to do so, because they have some good programs right in their own backyard.

Boivin also added that in the future, he hopes to organize other friendly games and tournaments to help with the development of the women’s hockey program.

The game itself was free and anyone was welcome. The women’s side took the game 7-6, with Ouellette scoring a hat trick, and two assists. It was a back-and-forth contest, and each team took the lead several times in the high scoring affair.

There was an injury scare in the third period. When Boivin’s squad scored to take a 6-5 lead, Stars netminder Catherine Herron stretched out her leg to try to make the save. She went down as the goal-horn went, favouring her outstretched leg. After medical staff tended to her for several minutes, she was able to stay in the game.

After the game, Ouellette met the fans who showed up to the game in the Concordia gym, taking pictures and signing autographs with her Stars teammates.

This isn’t the first time the Stingers have hosted the Stars. Twice this season they played a league game at Ed Meagher arena.

“We’ve built a relationship with them [the Stars],” Boivin said. “We’ve had a lot of our girls who’ve played for us and go on for the Stars afterwards.”

Though the game was free, both teams was accepting donations from spectators, with all proceeds going to a scholarship fund for future players.

 

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Tough season for Stingers women’s soccer team

Concordia falls six points after almost making the playoffs in 2012-2013

The 2012-13 season for the Concordia Stingers women’s soccer team saw them make huge strides. They finished with a 6-5-3 record and 21 points, good enough for fifth in the Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec (RSEQ) division. Though they failed to make the playoffs, their record was a major improvement to their 2-9-3 record from the year before. The Stingers saw their head coach, Jorge Sanchez, win a Coach of the Year award as a result of the jump in production.

Coming into the 2013-2014 season though, the Stingers failed to build on that momentum, as they finished with a 5-9-0 record and just 15 points, still in fifth place in the RSEQ, but 12 points short of the fourth and final playoff spot.

Tough season for Stingers women’s soccer team. Photo by Brianna Thicke

It wasn’t all bad for the Stingers, there were many positives to take out of the season. Defenders Shannon Travers and Kayla Myre both made the RSEQ second all-star team at the end of the season. Myre was the team’s leading scorer, and Travers was third in team scoring. Midfielder Alyssa Ruscio was named to the RSEQ all-star team in the indoor season.

Myre is returning to play for Concordia in her fourth season next year,and Ruscio will be back for her second year on the team. But Travers is one of five players leaving the program next season. One thing to remember is Concordia has a young squad, with nine first-year players on their roster this season, including Ruscio, and they could definitely use the veteran Myre to lead the team next season.

Their inexperience creeped up in some games. They played very well against the top team in the RSEQ, the Montreal Carabins, on Sept. 8 for example, but an unlucky bounce for Montreal led to the only goal of the game. They outmatched Montreal in the second half, and hit a crossbar that would have tied the game late in the second half. One month later on Oct. 6, they also played very well against the Carabins in a 2-1 loss. They held a 1-0 lead for most of the game, but allowed two quick goals  in the final minutes to lose 2-1.

Ruscio is known for her defensive play, and having a year under her belt will not only help her own performance, but will help the team keep the ball out of their own net in those close games.

In their indoor season, the Stingers were fairly inconsistent. They finished fourth in the six team league. They earned an impressive 2-0 victory over cross-city rival McGill, tied their next two games against the two bottom teams, Sherbrooke and L’Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières (UQTR), then fell to the two best teams in the RSEQ, Montreal and Laval.

Their 1-2-2 record earned them a playoff matchup against the fifth place UQTR, who finished without a win in the indoor season. The Stingers couldn’t capitalized and lost that game 1-0 and their season was done.

Though the record is not what the Stingers have wanted, the adversity is something to build on. They competed hard against the league’s best and with a few lucky bounces, some of those losses could have turned their way. With that in mind, the Stingers are well poised to make a playoff run next season if they could start winning some of those close games they weren’t winning this season and take advantage of their scoring chances.

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Sports

Stingers miss playoffs on tiebreaker with Redmen

There is optimism for Concordia’s men’s soccer team heading into next season

The biggest addition to the Concordia Stingers men’s soccer team in 2013-2014 was appointing former Montreal Impact goalkeeper Greg Sutton as their head coach, who would replace former Impact striker Lloyd Barker. But it was not an easy season for the first-year coach, as his team finished with a 5-7-0 record. They were tied with McGill for fourth place with 15 points, but the Redmen took the last playoff spot because they held the tiebreaker.

It was an up-and-down season for the Stingers. Concordia opened the season with a 5-1 loss  at the hands of the eventual top Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec (RSEQ) team, the Montreal Carabins. The Stingers followed that up with a solid come-from-behind victory against the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM) Citadins. But after that big win came three straight losses to Laval, McGill and the last-place Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières (UQTR), respectively.

Photo by Brianna Thicke

The Stingers did end the season on a high note, winning three of its last four games, but two losses on the season to McGill proved to be the difference, as their cross-city rivals narrowly beat them out for the last playoff spot.

In their indoor season, the Stingers would once again be tied with McGill for fourth place in the RSEQ with a 2-3-1 record. Their only tie came against the second place team, the Montreal Carabins, who finished their indoor season without a loss.

In the playoffs, Concordia fell to McGill 3-1 in the quarter-finals. The Stingers had their fair share of scoring chances throughout that game, but could not capitalize, while the Redmen took advantage of the Stingers defensive breakdowns, which ultimately led to the loss.

The good news for the Stingers is that they will have their two leading scorers from 2013-2014 back next year. Rookie forward Massimo Tartaglia finished the season with four goals and two assists to lead the Stingers offensively. Veteran forward Andrew Bryan will return for his third season as a Stinger. The Philosophy major is a 2012 RSEQ second-team all-star and was second in Stingers scoring this year with three goals. Bryan also led the Stingers in scoring with three goals in just four games in their indoor season. He was named to the 2014 RSEQ all-star team for the indoor season. Second-year midfielder Amadou Lam was named to the second-all star team for the indoor season.

Coach Sutton made some important moves during the winter semester to move the team forward into next year. He brought in six-foot-four goalkeeper Wes Aucoin from John Abbott, defender Justin Gibson from Ottawa and Oliver Georges, another defender from the Champlain St. Lambert Cavaliers. Georges comes in from a Cavaliers program that went 7-0-3 last year.

The Stingers weren’t far off from making the playoffs this time around, but they were missing that extra edge in the close games. Bringing in Georges, whose previous team hadn’t lost in an entire season, will allow the Stingers to add a winning player into their locker room.

Both Tartaglia and Bryan will be important parts to the team next year, especially in close games when they need some extra scoring punch. Couple these two things together, this should help Concordia improve their record from their 2013-2014 season.

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Sports

Concordia’s very own sports network

A group of journalism students form The Starting Rotation on CJLO

If you’re a sports fan in Montreal, you know of TSN 690, the all-sports English talk-show. If you’re a sports fan at Concordia, you’re in luck, because there’s another all-sports English talk-show right at your doorstep.

The Starting Rotation is one of the newest additions to CJLO, Concordia’s community radio station. The sports-talk show airs on CJLO 1690am every Thursday from 12-1 p.m. and includes six co-hosts, all Concordia journalism students: Julian McKenzie, Robert Arzenshek, Daniele Iannarone, Justin Ferrara, Giordano Cescutti and Matthew Shanahan. The show also airs “tentatively Wednesday from 8-9 a.m., but that may change with the semester fast approaching to an end,” according to Shanahan.

From week to week, the six hosts rotate shifts, as not all of them can be on air at once, hence the name The Starting Rotation.

“We decide as a group which sports we will be discussing and the style of the segment, days before the show. Some segments take

Graphic by Jenny Kwan

callers, while others have guest interviews and generic sports banter,” said Shanahan. “Julian McKenzie generally produces the show and takes care of the technical side, while the rest of us take care of the content for the show.”

Some of the guests they’ve had include Sofiane Benzaza, founder of Mount Royal Soccer, a website that covers the Montreal Impact, Mitch Gallo of TSN radio and the founder of Exposnation.com, Matthew Ross.

Shanahan originally pitched the idea at the start of the fall semester to some of his friends in the journalism program.

“They all got on board relatively quickly and started the process to getting our show started which included sessions with Alex Massé, the station director, as well as sitting in on other shows at CJLO and completing our volunteer hours,” said Shanahan. “Being an intern at TSN radio here in Montreal, I wanted to host my own sports-talk show. It’s not only something that I plan on doing during my time at Concordia but also after as I plan to make a career out of it. I am very passionate about sports and I love to share that passion with others, which is why hosting a show is a no-brainer in my mind.”

As of March 25th, The Starting Rotation has had 12 shows so far this semester. Shanahan likes the direction the show is going, but thinks it’s still too early to say how successful the show is going to be in the long run.

“Many of our friends listen to the show and we definitely get callers from time to time,” he said. “We’ve only had nine shows thus far, so I think success will be measured better on how much we improve and how we are able to handle things regarding our show when we are put under pressure to perform.”

If you can’t catch the show live on Wednesdays or Thursdays you can listen to it on the CJLO iPhone app, or on the podcast version that you can find on their Twitter page at @TSR1690.

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Sports

Sports in the News – March 18, 2014

NFL free agent frenzy

Only a few days into NFL free agency, the Denver Broncos have made a big splash, with three key signings. According to Sports Illustrated, they signed safety T.J. Ward to a four-year, $23 million contract, with $14 million guaranteed. They also signed former New England Patriot cornerback Aqib Talib to a six-year, $57 million contract, with $26 million guaranteed. Lastly Denver signed defensive end Demarcus Ware, who had just been released by the Dallas Cowboys, to a three-year, $30 million contract, with $20 million guaranteed.

Denver’s rival, the New England Patriots, also got into the mix in free agency. Having lost Talib to Denver, they needed a replacement. So, they signed cornerback Darrelle Revis to a one-year, $12 million contract, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. This came just after Revis was released by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. To view all the free agent signings go to NFL.com

 

Impact still winless

The Montreal Impact took on the Houston Dynamo on Saturday night in Houston. The only goal was scored in the 40th minute, by Houston forward Will Bruin, whose shot hit Impact defender Eric Miller before going into the net. The Impact are now 0-2 to start the season and they will play again next Saturday against the Seattle Sounders, in their home.

 

Habs complete comeback

The Montreal Canadiens were down 4-1 to the Ottawa Senators with under four minutes to play on Saturday night, but the remaining fans at the Bell Centre got an unexpected surprise from the home team. In three-and-a half minutes, the Habs scored three goals to complete the comeback, the tying goal coming with just 0.3 seconds left in the game and then won it 5-4 in overtime.

Lars Eller made it 4-2 at 16:38 of the third period, and captain Brian Gionta made it 4-3 less than a minute later. At 19:59, defenceman PK Subban fed David Desharnais on the power play to tie the game at four.

Defenceman Francis Bouillon then scored the overtime winner, on a play the Senators thought should have been blown dead, as they thought goaltender Robin Lehner had froze the puck before Canadiens’ forward Max Pacioretty poked it free to Boullion.

 

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