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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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