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Stingers men’s hockey team finds roster transformed since the U Sports pause

The Concordia Stingers men’s hockey team is looking very different now compared to before the winter break

The Concordia Stingers men’s hockey team has lost eight players since U Sports, the national governing body of university sport in Canada, was forced to pause in December, according to Marc-André Elément, the head coach for the Stingers men’s hockey team. Universities in Quebec, Ontario, and the Maritimes were affected by the shutdown.

Four players have signed professional contracts: two in the United States with the ECHL (East Coast Hockey League), and two overseas. The other four players who left the team decided to stop playing hockey.

Elément said pausing the season now after having a season-long shutdown last year has been difficult for his team.

“We only played eight games in two years, so that’s hard on the guys,” Elément said. “And they wanted to play games, they wanted to play hockey, and that’s what they chose.”

Bradley Lalonde is one of the players who decided to leave the Stingers to play professional hockey in the ECHL, along with Chase Harwell. Lalonde signed a contract with the Greenville Swamp Rabbits in South Carolina until the end of this season.

Lalonde said he didn’t believe the Stingers would be able to play a full rest of the season, given the restrictions in Quebec.

“I needed to kind of build my hockey career,” he added. “And playing those eight games in two years was just not enough.”

“It was really a decision that I made based on where I wanted to go with my hockey career and what I wanted to do for the next few years,” said Lalonde.

This is Lalonde’s last semester at Concordia, majoring in political science with a minor in law and society. He has three classes remaining and was able to find fully remote courses, which played a big part in accepting Greenville’s offer.

The 24-year-old defenceman had a few opportunities to play throughout the ECHL and in Europe, but he thinks Greenville makes the most sense hockey-wise.

“And it is a little bit warmer here,” Lalonde said, calling from his new apartment in sunny Greenville. “So I wanted to enjoy seeing a different part of the world. I’ve never been to South Carolina or even anywhere this south in the United States, so I just kind of wanted to explore a different area a little bit.”

He added that staying in the same timezone works out well with his online classes, considering he has an evening class, which would be in the middle of the night or even early morning in Europe. So Greenville was the simplest option for him.

Bradley Lalonde, Greenville Swamp Rabbits, 2022. Photograph by Emily Lipshetz

Lalonde got to Greenville on Jan. 17. He passed a physical exam with the doctor, and was on the ice practicing the same day. He was supposed to make his debut on Jan. 21, in Norfolk, Virginia. But according to Lalonde, the Zamboni wasn’t working, so there were problems with the ice, and that game, along with the other weekend games, ended up being rescheduled. That pushed his debut to Jan. 26. He has played in five games since then.

Tyler Hylland, an alternate captain for the Stingers, said he had opportunities to sign with different places during the pause, but wanted to stay with his team.

“For me, personally, I felt like I wanted to honour my commitment to my team that I’m on now, and I want to finish my school and I have some stuff going on here, and my family,” Hylland said. “So for me, I felt it was important to stay, and especially seeing a lot of guys on our own team leave […] I didn’t want to leave the program in a tough spot if the season were to restart.”

He added that at the end of the day, they’re all just trying to get through this pause and hope to be able to play again soon.

Elément said the team took on more players in case they found themselves in a situation where some of them left the team. They also added some players from their Division II program, which is another hockey program at Concordia where the players only practice, and now some were given the chance to join the team and play once the season restarts.

Elément said the team is “more than ready” to play again once they’re allowed to and that they’ve been waiting for a long time.

Lalonde said that leaving the Stingers wasn’t the way he wanted to end his time and career at Concordia.

“I would have loved to lead them to a championship, or win our division, win our league, and end up at Nationals,” he said. “It’s just that this was the thing that I needed to do to advance my hockey career.”

“The opportunity presented itself for me to pursue a professional hockey career and graduate at the same time, and that opportunity was just kind of too good to pass up,” Lalonde said.

 

Photograph by Kyran Thicke

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Corey Cup lives up to its hype in tight affair

Concordia took advantage of home crowd for 4-3 win over McGill

In front of a packed house at the Ed Meagher Arena, the Concordia Stingers men’s hockey team won the 32nd annual Corey Cup against the McGill Redmen. This victory makes it the Stingers’s second-straight Corey Cup win, having won 4-3 both this year and last.

“The guys were excited,” said Stingers head coach Marc-André Élement about the Concordia-McGill rivalry. “It means a lot. With the stands packed like that it’s good for university hockey and it’s good for the city.”

The officials were quick to break up Zachary Zorn’s fight with Nicolas Poulin. Photo by Hannah Ewen.

This game had all the elements expected from a rivalry. The two teams combined for 18 penalty minutes, 14 coming in the second period. Midway through the second, McGill’s Nicolas Poulin went after Stingers forward Zachary Zorn after he delivered a huge hit. The players dropped their gloves for a fight, but were only given two minutes for roughing.

“It was cool [to see] and it kind of gets the boys going on the bench,” said rookie defenceman Bradley Lalonde. “We were proud of [Zorn] because he stood up for himself.”

Indiscipline also played a factor in this game. McGill’s opening goal late in the first period was scored on a power play, and gave them a 1-0 lead at the first intermission. After forward Charles-Éric Legaré tied the game early in the second, McGill retook the lead with another power-play goal after Zorn’s penalty.

Third-year forward Philippe Sanche scored his 12th of the season to tie the game 2-2 with eight seconds left in the second period, also on the power play. “[Sanche] has been playing amazing,” Élement said. “He’s a huge leader and that was an amazing goal.”

Charles-Éric Legaré scored at the beginning of the second and third periods. Photo by Hannah Ewen.

Legaré scored his second of the game, and 11th of the season, early in the third period to give the Stingers a 3-2 lead. In eight regular-season games against McGill these past two years, Legaré has five goals and an assist, including a goal in last year’s Corey Cup. Élement said Legaré plays his best hockey against McGill because he enjoys the large crowds.

Stingers Captain Philippe Hudon played in his fifth and final Corey Cup, and it’s the third time he’s won it. He said he’s proud he’s been able to win the trophy in front of the home crowd two years in a row.

“It’s something that kind of rivals the Montreal [Canadiens]-Boston [Bruins] rivalry,” Hudon said. “Throughout the years, I’ve grown to not like McGill and really stick it to them every single game […] I’m happy a lot of people are coming because there should be more exposure to this kind of hockey.”

Midway through the third period, with the game tied 3-3, Hudon skated wide into McGill’s zone and dropped a pass for Hugo Roy. Roy blasted the puck past Louis-Philippe Guindon, igniting the crowd with the eventual game-winning goal. Hudon said he didn’t see the puck go in but heard the crowd’s roar, and celebrated like he scored a goal.

“It was a relief because it was such a back-and-forth hockey game,” Hudon said. “We were able to get the one-goal lead near the end, then bare down for the rest of the game.”

With the game tied three times, Lalonde said it helped to have the crowd behind them the whole game. “It’s a rivalry, so we know we’re never going to get behind no matter what happens, especially with the crowd into it,” Lalonde said.

With the win, the Stingers improve to 15-9-2 on the season and are in fifth place in the Ontario University Association (OUA) East with 32 points and two games left. McGill sits in fourth with 36 points, so the two teams could meet in the first round of the playoffs. McGill beat them in the OUA East final last year.

“This is what I live for; take ‘em on,” Hudon said. “If we play them this year, I’m giving it all I have.”

Main photo by Hannah Ewen.

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Sanche overtime goal seals win for Stingers

Hugo Roy’s two-goal effort helps in come-from-behind victory

The Concordia Stingers men’s hockey team won in an overtime thriller Friday night against the York Lions at home, 5-4.

The Stingers took on the hard-charging York Lions at the Ed Meagher arena for the first time since the the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) bronze-medal game in March. Concordia took that game 3-2 on that occasion.

“It’s a huge win,” head coach Marc-André Élement said about Friday’s game. “I think we showed a lot of character. It’s a huge comeback for us. There’s a lot of relief among the guys that we can score some goals.”

The first period was a straight slugfest and included a rash of Stingers penalties. The first resulted in a Lions goal by Scott Feser. By the end of the period, despite the four penalties, the Stingers had a 15-10 advantage in shots.

Bradley Lalonde scored his first goal for the Stingers. Photo by Hannah Ewen.

The second period played much of the same as the first. But this time, the Stingers’s defence came up strong, allowing four shots against. Stingers defenceman Bradley Lalonde opened up the scoring with a top-shelf shot and tied the game five minutes into the period. Another slew of penalties fell onto the Stingers, which the Lions fully capitalized on. Josh Lafrance scored to put the Lions back up 2-1.

The third period opened quick on the scoring chart for both teams. Concordia’s Hugo Roy scored on the power play just over a minute in, which was quickly followed by a Lions goal by Morgan Messenger. Midway through the period, the pace settled down a bit. The Stingers struck again, as Roy scored his second of the night to tie the game at three.

“I think I played good hockey.” Roy said. “I had a good third and I think it’ll help me tomorrow and into the season.”

The craziness of the third period didn’t end there. Lions Alex Mowbray added a goal on a four-on-four situation to take the lead with less than five minutes left. A roughing penalty by the Stingers shortly after looked to end their chances at a win. But it was forward Charles-Éric Légaré who scored a short-handed goal to tie the game with under two minutes left. The Lions received an interference penalty with 10 seconds in the game, to send the Stingers to overtime with a power play.

The overtime started and finished within 15 seconds thanks to the Stingers’s power play. Forward Philippe Sanche took his shot and buried the rebound to win the game for the Stingers 5-4.

“[Hugo Roy] is a fast skater and he creates offence,” Élement said. “This is a huge two points for us. We’ve still got to work on some stuff though.”

The Stingers improve to 2-2-0 heading into the second game of the weekend against the Ryerson Rams on Saturday night.

Main photo by Hannah Ewen. 

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