The Concordia Stingers women’s hockey team knew it had to win games against teams it had beaten in the past if it was to climb out of the basement of the standings.
The women could handle a 4-0 defeat two weeks ago to run-away leaders McGill, but the other games would have to be capitalized on.
The losses last Friday and Saturday thus came as a hard pill to swallow as the Stingers remain at the bottom of the league.
Though Concordia scored first in both games, the Stingers were unable to hold onto leads against the Montréal Carabins and the Ottawa Gee-Gees.
In the Friday night game at Montréal, Audrey Gariepy scored first, but the Carabins came back with five straight goals.
Second place Montréal is a team the Stingers had beat once and lost to twice in the first half of the season. It is a team that coach Les Lawton knows his team can and needed to beat if they are to challenge for second place.
If Friday night’s loss was a tough pill to swallow, Saturday’s was a shot of gasoline.
Ottawa and Concordia were tied in points going into the game, but Ottawa topped Concordia 4-2, further dismantling the team’s ambition of moving up in the standings.
The Stingers scored first when Emilie Bocchia converted a first period power-play goal, her second in as many games. Ottawa tied it up, but Concordia came out in the second period blazing. Catherine Rancourt put one in 52 seconds into the second period retaking the lead.
It was all Ottawa from then on, however, as the Gee-Gees scored three straight goals to win the game.
The women now sit at the bottom of the standings with six points, two back of Ottawa, though the Stingers have a game in hand.
The Stingers’ next game will be at home against Ottawa on Sunday, Jan. 29 at 3 p.m.
It wasn’t just the Flyers and Rangers playing under the open sky this holiday.
The Concordia Stingers men’s hockey team played an outdoor classic of its own on a recent holiday Euro-trip.
The team was in high spirits as it came back from Switzerland and Italy, acting as school ambassador in a series of European games. The men played outdoors in St. Moritz, Switzerland before jumping the Alps and playing in Italy.
“We were driving up to the top of the Swiss Alps in a snow storm, on a one lane highway,” said coach Kevin Figsby. “With a snow bank on the right side, and a 3,000 ft. drop on the left side, and the guys were asking if it gets any better.”
Figsby said that the experience in Europe inspired the Concordia hockey players, who can draw on a history of graduates who play professional overseas.
Figsby said in the past 13 years, Concordia has put more players in pro-hockey in Europe than any other university in Canada. There are currently 19 former Stinger players playing in Europe. There are three graduating players on the current roster, who have a real possibility of playing overseas within the next two years.
The trip highlighted for the players the real possibilities aside from the NHL for those with the skill to play competitive hockey professionally.
“We had an absolutely fabulous trip,” said Figsby. “I thought our players did a tremendous job as ambassadors for our university.”
The experience is one that will stay with them forever, and they hope to keep the inspiration and experience going into the winter semester.
It is a young team with nine first-year players and 14 second-year players, and the team needs to tighten up and stay competitive in the tough second half, according to Figsby.
“If we continue to build and take the positive experience from Europe, I’m expecting an exciting second half,” he said. “We’ve got a pretty good chance to finish in the top half of the pack in the second half.”
The high-flying duo of George Lovatsis and Michael Stinziani look to continue their explosive ways as the team finishes off their season.
Concordia has four home games coming up in the next two weeks, all at the Loyola rink.
Their next game is Wednesday night, Jan. 18 at home against UQTR.
The women also did some jet-setting during the holidays, but they went across the other pond.
The women travelled to a country known for bento boxes, kendo sticks and… hockey? The Stingers’ trip to Japan gave them innumerable cultural experiences that they can call on for inspiration in the winter term.
They played the Japanese national team in Sapporo, and then, in Tokyo, played a number of club teams.
“We embraced the culture and had a wonderful time,” said coach Les Lawton.
The experience is one that the women can use moving forward in the season. The samurai spirit will need to be fostered on the young team as they fight for a positive end to the season.
Concordia’s women’s hockey team needs to move in one direction heading into the second half of the season: up. They struggled in league play at the end of December.
Lawton acknowledged that his team is relatively young, but hopes that his players will use the experience they learned in the first half of the year and improve.
“We have to bring a little more intensity to our games,” said Lawton.
He is looking to Alyssa Sherrard, and the young goaltenders to pick up their games in the second half.
The tough veteran defensive pairing of Meghan George and Alynn Doiron will be leaned on as both players head into the tail end of their university sports careers.
The women’s next game is Friday, Jan. 20 at Université de Montréal at 7 p.m.
The goal brought the Stingers’ bench to its feet, as sticks started smacking the boards.
“I thought once we got down there for a moment we really picked ourselves back up,” said Stingers captain Alynn Doiron. “I think the team this year is so much better than all the other years I’ve played because we’re so determined to come back and really strong mentally,” she said.
McGill converted on a quick power play goal after a checking to the head penalty by Meghan George, and scored again to end the period 6-1.
“We’ve got to step it up a notch,” said Martlet captain Cathy Chartrand. “It’s still a game, and there’s still 40 minutes to go, and we have to play a structure like we’ve been practicing, and I think that’s what we did.”
A period that had started off so promisingly for Concordia was not to be.
The Stingers got a late consolation prize in the form of a power play goal with five minutes remaining in the third period, from Audrey Gariepy off a set-up by Meghan George to end the game 6-2.
Concordia’s captain was optimistic in the face of defeat.
“Our team showed a lot of determination even if the score didn’t show how we were playing,” said Doiron. “It was good to see us win the last period and finish the first half of the season on a good note.”
For McGill, the season just keeps getting better.
“We’re working every day each practice to get better as a team,” said Chartrand. “I think since the beginning of the year we’ve been improving a lot. We just try to get better as a team every day. Hopefully we’re going to get there.”
Concordia is now in a tie for last place in the RSEQ.
The Stingers face off against McGill again on Jan. 13 at 7:30 p.m.
Five minutes before the period’s end, Barker scored again making it a hat-trick plus two for the Napierville, Que. native.
The game was a frustrating one for Concordia, who worked hard, but saw its work bear little fruit.
“There was effort, but it wasn’t directed in the right direction,” said assistant captain Meghan George. “We weren’t angling right. We got two next weekend, so that’s what we’re going to build towards.”
Concordia plays Carleton next Saturday, before their final game of the year 2011 against McGill on Sunday at 3 p.m. at Ed Meagher Arena.