McGill 2, Concordia 1: Stingers ready to face do-or-die pressure after loss

The Stingers found themselves in a hole at the end of Thursday night.

It wasn’t an insurmountably deep hole and they’d faced plenty of pressure like this throughout the season—but the hole remains nonetheless.

“It’s not one game that’s going to bury us. We’re going to be fine. We just have to go back to the basics […] and work our balls off,” said Stingers captain Philippe Sanche after the team’s loss in game one of the OUA East playoffs.

A 2-1 loss certainly wasn’t the result that they were searching for against cross-town rival McGill, but if they want to find a different result in their do-or-die matchup on Saturday night at home, they’ll need a different start.

While the game started with the back and forth pace that comes with matchups between Concordia and McGill, the Stingers spent much of the first half of the game looking flat and lacking energy.

McGill controlled play heavily through the first period and it took Stingers goalie Kyle Jessiman making a collection of show stopping saves to keep the team together.

Carl Neill dekes around McGill’s Taylor Ford

The normally speedy, physical team looked to be missing some of the keys to what made them such a dangerous force this season.

“[The physicality] was ok. I wanted the guys to be a little bit more physical on them. That’s what we addressed between the second and the third,” said Stingers head coach Marc-André Élement. “If we do that we’ll have more success. We have to limit their time and space.”

The sleepy start mixed with some unfortunate and questionable calls by the referees left the Stingers chasing the game; a dangerous place to be in a best-of-three playoff series where every second matters so much.

“It’s always a little bit nerve-wracking to start the playoffs. You got that little bit of anxiety, it takes you a while to settle in. Especially if it’s your first year in the league,” said Stingers forward Tyler Hylland.

The team’s youth and inexperience started to show as they took the time to get used to the hard, fast, tight game that comes with postseason hockey.

Of the nineteen players that saw the ice for the Stingers, nine were in their first U Sports playoff game. Another six had only ever played two playoff games in the league. Only Sanche, centre Jean-Philippe Beaulieu, defencemen Carl Neill and Alexandre Gosselin had more experience than that heading into game one against McGill.

Those nerves did get pushed off eventually.

Tyler Hylland lines up for a faceoff

“We’re a young team, [after the first] guys were feeling more confident and in the game. We kept our game simple,” said Élement.

Midway through the second, the team started to find itself and its style a bit more. Hylland scored his first U Sports playoff goal and the play began to shift the Stingers’ way.

They dominated possession in the third period, missing chances by inches. The closest they came to evening a game in which they had trailed 2-0 came as Neill ripped a heavy shot just off the post in the game’s final minute.

Though they failed to find an equaliser in their late-game push, the control that the Stingers played with in the third felt like something they could carry over.

“If we play like we did in the third, we’ll be right back in that series Saturday,” said Élement.

It’s pressure time now though. The team will need to win at home in game two in order to keep their season alive and force a decisive game three back at McGill on Sunday.

The Stingers are now faced with two words they’ve become accustomed to this season: pressure and adversity.

They’ve been injured (missing up to eight players at times), dealt with suspensions, a young class not having a full lineup to play with, and more. It’s been a rocky season with plenty of obstacles. That’s exactly why the team feels ready for this moment.

“It’s never a good thing to have a perfect season. It helps build a team’s character to go through adversity during the year,” said Hylland. “If you face adversity as a team and you’re used to it, you know how to handle it and respond. We’re facing adversity again, it’s nothing new to us, we know how to respond.”

He pointed to the reigning Stanley Cup champions, the St. Louis Blues. The blues were last in the league standings at point and were continuously counted out before eventually winning the cup.

The Stingers have no options. It’s time to take any lessons learned this year and put them to good use with everything on the line. They should be laser focused and ready to play Saturday night.

“It’s the biggest game of the year. There’s not a nervous feeling in the room,” said Hylland.


Photos by Kyran Thicke


Stingers season comes to end in double overtime loss

Queen’s Gaels battled back from 3-0 deficit to sweep playoff series

The Concordia Stingers men’s hockey team fell short in a 5-4 double overtime thriller to the Queen’s Gaels. This put an end to the season for the Stingers as the Gaels win the best-of-three series 2-0.

Just over six minutes into the game, captain Philippe Hudon scored to give the Stingers an early lead. The momentum carried on throughout the period, where the Stingers outshot the Gaels 12-3 in the first period.

This was the third year in a row the Stingers and Gaels met in the playoffs. Concordia won in game three overtime last year. Photo by Hannah Ewen.

The beginning of the second period started similarly, as the Stingers got another early goal from Hudon, who tipped a Philippe Sanche shot in on the powerplay to make it 2-0. Only 30 seconds later, Charles-Éric Légaré beat the Gaels goalie by putting a perfect pass by Brendan Hamelin into the net.

However, just under a minute later, the Gaels got onto the board to cut the lead to 3-1. This didn’t stop the Stingers from controlling the game, as midway through the second period, the momentum changed.

The Stingers failed to convert on a 5-on-3 that lasted nearly two minutes. The momentum changed from that point, and the Gaels got a powerplay goal to cut the lead to 3-2 before the second period ended.

“Not scoring on the five-on-three gave them momentum. Had we scored, it would have been different,” said head coach Marc-André Élément. “They did a very good job and gained momentum.”  

“[The Gaels] played it really well but it isn’t really acceptable in the playoffs to not score on a 1:30 5-on-3,” said defenceman Carl Neill.

Opening the third, the Gaels left off where they finished the second, scoring only 19 seconds in to tie the game. They then proceeded to grab the lead less than two minutes into the third period with another quick goal.

The pressure on the Stingers’s backs was intense but they managed to remain calm. Sanche tied the game with eight minutes to go in regulation to send the game into overtime.

Despite a strong overtime period by the Stingers, they were unable to score. The game went to the second overtime, where the Gaels scored a minute into the period to put the Stingers’s season to bed.

This was Philippe Hudon’s final game as a Stinger. Photo by Hannah Ewen.

After the game, the team and fans cheered and thanked captain Hudon for his five years with the team. He was the first captain to take the Stingers to nationals last season. In his final game, Hudon went out with two goals and an assist. “He carried the team tonight and even last game,” said Neill on Hudon’s final performance. “Playoffs are really his thing.”

“He has been one of the best captains to wear the C on his jersey; he is up there with Olivier Hinse,” said Élément on his captain. “It is because of those guys that we were able to change the identity and culture of the program. I just told him he left a big, big footprint and I’m very proud of what he accomplished.”

An emotional Hudon came out to talk about his time as a Stinger after his final game. “It is certainly the end of an unbelievable chapter,” said Hudon. “It’s not about the sheer number of years I’ve been here; it’s about what developed over the years.”

Hudon will be missed as the team looks to the future but he hopes that his leadership on the ice sticks with the young leaders of the team. He is currently waiting to see if he will have a future in hockey over the next few months.  

“If there is one thing I want my teammates to take from me, it’s certainly not the vocals, as I’m not a vocal guy. However, it would be to work hard to the very last second,” said Hudon.

Another player who likely played his last game in a Stingers uniform is forward Légaré, who is hoping to forego his final year of OUA eligibility to play pro in Europe.  

On his time at Concordia, Légaré said, “I really enjoyed it. It has been the best four years of my life so far and it passed by so fast.”

The Stingers will come back next year with a young group led by many second and third year players.

Main photo by Hannah Ewen.


Stingers drop final home game to Patriotes 4-2

Concordia couldn’t continue momentum from Corey Cup win

The Concordia Stingers men’s hockey team lost 4-2 to the Université de Québec à Trois-Rivières (UQTR) Patriotes Friday night. This was the team’s first game since their emotional overtime win last Saturday against McGill.

Only two minutes into the game, the Patriotes got onto the board. They scored another in the period to go up 2-0 after the first.  The Stingers led the period in shots 12-8, but didn’t have any real scoring chances.

The second period was much the same for the Stingers, as they were not able to get anything going. The Patriotes scored a shorthanded goal late in the second to make it 3-0.

Captain Philippe Hudon (#7) will play in his final playoffs with the Stingers. Photo by Hannah Ewen.

“The first two periods were kind of flat, but sometimes that happens when you just played against a team like McGill,” said defenceman Carl Neill. “The rink was packed and we got a big win last week. It’s not really an excuse, especially going into the playoffs.”

“In the locker room, we told each other that we have one period to come out strong, and we did but we came up short,” said captain Philippe Hudon.

The third period started off very well; just 36 seconds in, Hugo Roy scored to put the Stingers on the board. Not even two minutes later, Philippe Pelletier-Leblanc scored to bring the Stingers within a goal.  

“We were not playing very well on the power play, so the goal was huge for our confidence,” said Roy regarding his goal.

Despite the two quick goals, it was too little too late as the Stingers weren’t able to get another one. The Patriotes iced the game with an empty netter with 15 seconds left.

“We won against McGill in a high emotion game, and sometimes these things happen but we need to get our focus back and get ready for the playoffs,” said head coach Marc-André Élement.

The Stingers lost to the University of Ontario Institute of Technology Ridgebacks, 5-3 on Saturday night. They finished in sixth place, and will play the Queen’s Gaels in the first round. The dates of the games will be released on Monday.

Main photo by Hannah Ewen.


Stingers lose OUA East final against Redmen

McGill dominated after Pépin was tossed from game

The Concordia Stingers men’s hockey team were overwhelmed by the McGill Redmen Sunday night at the McConnell Arena, losing 6-2. The Redmen won the best-of-three Ontario University Athletics (OUA) East final, advancing to the Queen’s Cup next weekend against the Brock Badgers.

“It was like a game seven,” said Stingers forward Anthony Beauregard. “For sure we were a bit stressed, but we just tried to push hard. Obviously, it wasn’t the result we wanted.”

The Stingers got off to the start they wanted, with captain Philippe Hudon scoring just 31 seconds into the game. However, less than two minutes later, Stingers forward Alexis Pépin was ejected from the game for a hit to Quinn Syrydiuk’s head.

“We had a good start, but that was a hit that [deserved] five minutes [major penalty],” said head coach Marc-André Élement. “It’s a good call, and we have to live with it […] I don’t want to blame Pépin because he’s a physical guy, and the other guy was in a vulnerable position, but that’s hockey.”

Players on both teams didn’t forget about their rivalry in game three. Photo by Alex Hutchins.

The penalty gave the Redmen a five-minute power play that would continue if they scored. And they capitalized twice. Defenceman Nikolas Brouillard and forward Jerome Verrier—the game two overtime hero—both beat Stingers goalie Marc-Antoine Turcotte on the blocker side. These goals got over 1,000 people at the arena fired up, and put the Stingers on their heels.

The Stingers shot chart. By Matthew Coyte

Despite Stingers defenceman Philippe Charbonneau tying the game midway through the first period, the Redmen regained the lead a minute later with a goal by Jan Kaminsky. That goal was all the Redmen needed, as they scored one more in the second and two more in the third, to beat their cross-town rivals.

The Stingers just couldn’t capitalize on their scoring chances. Photo by Alex Hutchins.

In the second period, the Stingers continued to get penalized when defenceman Alexandre Gosselin received a 10-minute major for hitting from behind. Élement said his players were undisciplined.

“Sometimes, in a game like that of high-intensity, the emotions are really high,” Élement added.

The Redmen are a team full of veterans, while the Stingers have many players still in their first and second years of eligibility. McGill’s composure in this series showed, considering they were a shot away from losing in overtime in game two, and climbed back to win.

“Our playoff run was huge for our program,” Élement said. “I’ve got to give them credit, they have a really good team. You know what, I hope they win the Queen’s Cup. I know it’s always a rivalry between us and them, but I hope a Quebec team wins.”

While the Redmen travel to Brock University to play the Badgers in the Queen’s Cup, the Stingers will host the York Lions

While the Redmen travel to Brock University to play the Badgers in the Queen’s Cup, the Stingers will host the York Lions on Friday, March 9 at the Ed Meagher Arena, in a bronze-medal match. The winner of that game will join the Redmen and the Badgers at nationals.

“We’re going to be ready for Friday,” Élement said. “We just hope we get the chance to win it on Friday and play [the Redmen] at nationals.”

Main photo by Alex Hutchins.


Redmen stun capacity crowd with overtime win against Stingers

OUA East final now heading to a deciding game three

Jerome Verrier’s overtime goal gave the McGill Redmen a 3-2 win over the Concordia Stingers men’s hockey team Friday night at the Ed Meagher Arena. The best-of-three Ontario University Athletics (OUA) East final is now tied, with the series going to a deciding game three.

The Ed Meagher Arena, which has a capacity of about 800 people, sold out for the game. For the fans who showed up a bit later, they had to stand along the boards, in the rows or sit on stairs. The crowd was full of energy for the whole game.

“We’re sorry we didn’t end up winning for [the fans],” said Stingers captain Philippe Hudon about the packed arena.

The Ed Meagher Arena was standing room only on Friday night. Photo by Alex Hutchins.

Hudon opened the scoring five minutes into the game with a power-play goal, and the pro-Concordia crowd erupted into a frenzy. Hudon described the atmosphere as “unbelievable.”

“It gives you that constant drive even though we played nearly four whole periods,” he said.

The Redmen responded a minute after Hudon’s goal, with Guillaume Gauthier beating Marc-Antoine Turcotte with a high shot. The Stingers were undisciplined in the first period, with forward Alexis Pépin taking two penalties, and forward Massimo Carozza had another. The Redmen went 0/4 on their power-play opportunities all game.

Turcotte, who was the game-one star with 43 saves in the win, was not the better of the two goalies in game two. Although he had a fantastic game, making 44 saves, McGill’s Louis-Philip Guindon won the goaltending duel, with 50 saves. He made several important saves in overtime too.

The Concordia Stingers shot tracker on Louis-Philip Guindon. Bolded are the goals. Tracked by Matthew Coyte.

“He was strong, but we have to take advantage of his weaknesses,” Hudon said about Guindon. “He really played an unbelievable game, just as much as Turcotte did, but we just have to keep firing away. We know we could beat this guy, but it’s just a question of being in his face at all times.”

The Redmen took their first lead of the series in the second period, when Michael Cramarossa scored seven minutes in. With five minutes left in the second, Cramarossa took an interference penalty, and the Stingers took advantage when Carozza scored a goal from the high slot to tie the game.

Both of the Stingers’s goals in the game came from a power play. Stingers head coach Marc-André Élement said he isn’t worried his team couldn’t score on five-on-five.

“We just have to put more pucks on net,” Élement said. “We’re going to watch video and analyze our game, but I think putting more pucks on net [during] five-on-five will be the key.”

After winning game one on the road at McGill’s McConnell Arena, the Stingers will have to go back there to close off the series. This is not a situation they’re unfamiliar with, as they had to do it in the last series against the Queen’s Gaels. The Stingers won both games on the road, including game three in overtime. In the playoffs, Concordia is undefeated on the road.

“It’s a positive thing that we didn’t lose any away games, and I’m confident we’re going to bounce back from this tough one,” Élement said. “They have a good team, and it’s not easy to win two games [in a row] against those guys.”

The Stingers opened their regular season in October away against the Redmen, and won 3-2. Now, they don’t want their season to end where it started: on enemy territory.

Game three is on Sunday, March 4 at 7 p.m. at the McConnell Arena.

Main photo by Alex Hutchins.

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