A whole new ball game for the Concordia Stingers

A bright future lies ahead for the baseball team.

After a season-opening 6-3 win against the McGill Redbirds on Sept. 6 at Pierre Elliot Trudeau Park, the Concordia Stingers and their head coach Howie Schwartz are optimistic about their upcoming season and their future in varsity baseball.

This year, the Stingers will be competing against teams from the Ontario University Athletics (OUA), as well as other Quebec universities who are trying out for a potential new league for the 2023-24 season with the Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec (RSEQ).

“We have four teams now: Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières, McGill, Concordia, and University of Montreal. Bishop’s is going to be available next year, and then we’ll have an official league. We’re playing those three teams unofficially on a sixteen-game schedule and in the OUA on a sixteen-game schedule,” said Schwartz.

The coach also expressed a lot of satisfaction and confidence in his team, which is mostly made up of rookies.

“Our team is just much stronger defensively. We’ve had three games so far and our defence has picked up considerably from last year. I still want to see some improvement with our hitting, but even [that] has strengthened.”

Out of a roster of 40, only about 12 are returning from the 2021-22 season. However, Schwartz noticed that the rookies have been acclimating nicely to the program. Due to his heavy recruitment efforts in the off-season, some of those recruits came from as far as B.C. to play for the Stingers.

Catcher Mack Lake, a first-year student in economics from B.C., said he wanted to stay in Canada to play baseball in university. His first meeting with Schwartz cemented his decision to come to Concordia.

“Howie was just wonderful. Talking to him was really nice and I felt like he wanted me to come,” said Lake, a baseball player for almost a decade.

“Most of all, on the mound, we have a much stronger and deep pitching staff, and, at this level, pitching is going to make a difference. I’m very pleased with our pitchers this year,” continued Schwartz.

Against McGill, such a bullpen was beneficial to the team. Due to a rotation of five talented pitchers, the Redbirds’ batting lineup could never get used to any one of them. But that same bullpen will be stretched thinner as they prepare for an intense week ahead.

The Stingers will be facing the Redbirds for the third time this season on Sept. 20.

“They’re surely going to be ready for us. They don’t like losing to us and we don’t like losing to them,” said Schwartz with a chuckle.

On Sept. 12, the Stingers played an exhibition game against the John Abbott College Islanders that resulted in a 10-8 win for Concordia. The Stingers will be headed to Trois-Rivières for an exhibition double-header against Collège Laflèche on Saturday, while their next league double-header will take place on Sunday in Ottawa against Carleton University.


Concordia’s men’s hockey team hold Ottawa scoreless in a 2-0 victory

Stingers’ goaltender Jacob Delorme comes up big in a 42-save performance to get his first shutout with the Stingers

The Ottawa Gee-Gees tested the Concordia Stingers in their third consecutive matchup, however, Jacob Delorme was up to the task and helped his team get the 2-0 victory over Ottawa last Saturday, March 5.

“It was a good game,” Delorme said. “We lost Wednesday in Ottawa so we wanted to beat them, and right now the standings are really close for the playoffs, so it was a big win for us.”

Despite the Gee-Gees starting to pressure the Stingers right out of the gate, it was Paycen Bjorklund who opened the scoring for the Stingers around 14 minutes into the game, from a pass by Vincent Nardonne.

The second period was the busiest for the goaltenders, but it also remained scoreless. Ottawa had some good chances to tie the game, but Delorme made all 18 saves.

Concordia didn’t allow as many shots in the final frame, as they were also pressuring to double their lead. Alexander Katerinakis was able to do that after beating Ottawa’s defence with Isiah Campbell with about two minutes remaining in the period.

The last two minutes of the game were very intense, as Ottawa pressured to try and tie the game. The Gee-Gees’ late push resulted in a Concordia penalty in the last two minutes, and Ottawa pulled their goaltending for a 6-on-4 opportunity. However, the Stingers did a great job defensively, and Delorme continued his perfect performance. Concordia took another penalty with 15 seconds remaining, but it was too late for Ottawa to come back.

“It was a tight game,” said Marc-André Elément, the Stingers’ head coach. “Our guys battled and played hard tonight and we got the win so it’s huge.”

With two games in hand, Concordia currently ranks third in the division, right behind Ottawa. Having played against the Gee-Gees four times in the last five games, Delorme said they would be ready to potentially face them in the opening round of the playoffs, if that were to be the first series.


Photograph by Kyran Thicke 


Concordia’s team effort stands out in 5-2 victory over Ottawa

The Stingers men’s hockey team bounced back in the second half of back-to-back games on Friday and Saturday, and got the win in their first home game in 2022.

The Concordia Stingers’ team effort persisted throughout 60 minutes, as they came together to take the 5-2 win over the Ottawa Gee-Gees on Feb. 26.

This was the Stingers’ second game in two nights, bouncing back after a 0-4 defeat against the UQTR Patriotes on Friday.

The Stringers struck early with Maxim Trépanier opening the scoring only a minute and a half into the game. The first period ended with shots 13-11 in favour of Ottawa, while Concordia’s goaltender Jordan Naylor stood on his head and kept his team in the game.

“In the first period we were a little hesitant, we had to get our legs back,” said Tyler Hylland, centre for the Stingers. “We hadn’t played back-to-back games in a couple of months, so I think the guys were feeling it out, but I think we found our legs in the second period, and we finished strong, so it went well.”

Right at the beginning of the second frame, Ottawa scored twice in a minute and took the lead in what was a pretty back and forth game up to that point.

About seven minutes into the second frame, two Ottawa players collided with Naylor. Trainers joined him on the ice to evaluate him, but he remained in net until the end of the period.

It didn’t take too long for Concordia to tie the game afterwards, with a goal by Alexandre Desgagnés around the midway mark of the period, which gave the Stingers some momentum back.

They found themselves on the powerplay a couple of minutes later, where Jeffrey Durocher capitalized and gave his team the lead again.

Naylor didn’t return for the final period, and Jacob Delorme came in instead after having played the previous night as well. Stingers head coach Marc-André Elément said that Naylor didn’t sustain an injury and that he will be okay.

Hylland doubled the Stingers’ lead around 12 minutes into the third period after creating a turnover and having a breakaway chance.

“It was kind of a broken play in the d-zone, a turnover, and I kind of saw the opportunity that I could maybe get it by them, and I took it, and then I went in on the goalie and put it five-hole,” Hylland said.

The Gee-Gees pulled their goaltender with two and a half minutes remaining, leading to Trépanier, who had opened the scoring early on, to seal the win for the Stingers with an empty-net goal.

Delorme continued Naylor’s effort and stood tall, stopping all 11 shots he faced in that period, while the defence also did their job and kept blocking shots.

Although the final shots were 39-30 in favour of the Gee-Gees, the Stingers weren’t giving them many good scoring opportunities, and if they did, the goaltenders made the saves.

“I think we were ready for tonight’s game,” Elément said. “We have a good team and we needed to compete tonight, and I think the guys showed a lot of character when we were down… And [when] you’re losing your goalie going into the third period, and your other goalie steps in, that’s a big big team effort there.”

Elément added that Delorme kept them in the game in the final frame. He also mentioned how important the defence was in the game, highlighting Kyle Havlena and Marcus Tesink’s performances in particular.

“It was a big team effort tonight and I’m really happy about the win.”


Photograph by Kaitlynn Rodney


Stingers athletes growing restless from extended layoff

Concordia student athletes reflect on how the COVID-19 pause has affected their plans

In response to growing concerns around the COVID-19 Omicron variant over the winter break, the Concordia Stingers’ hockey and basketball seasons were once again put on hold. Only recently have things started to return to normalcy as teams were allowed to start practicing again in small groups on Jan. 17, with full team practices permitted as of Jan. 31.

Teams are expected to start playing games again in February, but there has yet been an official announcement about whether or not the missed games will be played at a later date. Tyler Hylland, an alternate captain on the Stingers men’s hockey team, said that having this season paused after not playing for a full year in 2020-21 was disappointing.

“For a lot of us that’s our biggest passion and to get it taken away, and not even be able to fully practice and participate was tough,” Hylland said. “And then, just when we think we have it back to get it ripped away again, is really kind of devastating, to be honest.”

Areej Burgonio, a player on the women’s basketball team, had similar thoughts on the situation.

“Honestly, it’s just annoying. A lot of my friends play in the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) in the States where they actually had a season, even last year,” she said. “ I would hate to be on the sidelines again.”

Hylland added that U Sports, the governing body of university sport in Canada, was put at a disadvantage compared to other leagues.

“I felt like a lot of other leagues were given designations where they could play, and they didn’t seem to consider our league when we’re equally as elite as them or as dedicated as them. And we deserve every opportunity that other leagues were given.”

Phélix Martineau, the captain of the men’s hockey team, added that missing a month worth of practice and games within a season is hard to recover from.

“But at the same time, it’s going to be like that for everyone. So we’re going to have to make the most of it,” he said. “And hopefully, it won’t affect us too much in the end, but […] we’re not sure if we’re even going to have playoffs or nationals so it’s tough to say what our goals are going to be like.”

Due to the uncertainty of the season, the men’s hockey team lost some players who decided to sign professional deals during the holiday break, which meant the team had to bump up their roster.

Both the hockey and basketball teams are not sure whether they will be playing more games in the same amount of time as planned, or will just be playing fewer games this season.

Burgonio said her team was supposed to have 12 games remaining, but they’ve already missed six since the break. If these games aren’t rescheduled, they would only have half of the initial games remaining to work towards making it to the nationals.

“Every game would literally be do or die,” Burgonio said.

But the most frustrating part of the shutdowns and pauses is the long-term effect on these athletes’ futures, according to Hylland. A lot of them, himself included, are still trying to play professional sports after graduation.

“It’s tough to get noticed by pro teams, and it’s tough to make a case for yourself to have a contract after you’re done with school,” Hylland said. “So I think it’s definitely put us behind the eight ball when it comes to our future.”

At the end of the day, all these athletes are hoping for is to be able to play soon and that the league won’t shut down again.


Photograph by Kaitlynn Rodney


Update on the basketball/hockey winter season schedule

Ongoing and evolving COVID-19 developments have made the eventual return of university sports a complicated process

In order to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the Concordia Stingers basketball and hockey seasons will be postponed until further notice. 

The latest public update from the RSEQ was shared on Dec. 22, where they announced the suspension of all sports activities until Jan. 9 to comply with the Quebec government. Since then, a realistic timeline hasn’t been established as the RSEQ awaits the government to lift restrictions. Both of Concordia’s basketball teams, in addition to the women’s hockey team, compete in the RSEQ.

“We [RSEQ] are following guidelines specific to recreation and sports […] where indoor sports are suspended unless they involve one person, two people —in pairs — or the occupants of the same private residence,” said Benoit Doloreux, the RSEQ’s university director.

The men’s hockey team play in the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) association, which originally announced on Dec. 17 it was pausing their original schedule until at least Jan. 24. Catherine Grace, the Stingers communications and media officer, said she has yet to hear anything definitive about the upcoming hockey and basketball seasons.

“I have been informed the teams require two weeks of practice before resuming games. They are not currently practicing. With that in mind, the earliest they can hold games is the week of Jan. 25. Until we hear more from the RSEQ and OUA, there’s no way to tell if that will happen,” Grace shared in an email to The Concordian earlier this week. 

Once the student-athletes are permitted to train as a team in athletic facilities, the winter seasons will resume following the two-week training window. The OUA is pushing for government restrictions to be lifted sooner so teams can practice immediately and the league can forgo delaying the schedule further, although there has been no response from the province. 


Photograph by Kaitlynn Rodney


Ottawa 7, Concordia 2: There’s a job to do

After a collection of tight games and surprising many with a wild run to the OUA East finals, the Stingers fell in a 7-2 blowout to the now division champions, the Ottawa Gee Gee’s.

There was no time to sit and sulk though. There is still work to be done.

“It’s a tough loss but we’re not done, that’s what’s fun,” said Stingers head coach Marc-André Élement.

After a playoff run that included a victory over their most bitter rival, a sweep of the league’s top team, a triple overtime win, and eventually being swept themselves, the Stingers have one last challenge to face on their way to pushing for a berth at the national championship in Halifax.

They will be one of two teams vying for the bronze medal of the OUA and the final spot at nationals. They take on the loser of the OUA West final in a winner takes all, one game elimination battle later this week.

“It’s a game seven right away. So we have to be on our toes and play Stingers hockey,” said captain Philippe Sanche.

Because of new rules, regardless of the opponent and prior seeding, any Quebec team is not eligible to host such a game, so they’ll be traveling down to Ontario for the matchup.

The Stingers will need to work to get back to the team that toppled both Carleton and McGill as opposed to the one that showed up against Ottawa. The Gee Gee’s got them to lose their composure, taking penalties that simply hadn’t been a problem before this series. The vicious forecheck of the visitors left the Stingers scrambling and giving up turnovers in game two.

The Stingers’ offensive creativity that had gotten them so far seemed to dry up in the game after an intense first period in which both teams scored twice, including a late shorthanded goal by rookie Tyler Hylland.

The Stingers have liked playing with their backs against the wall this season and situations like that have provided some of their best hockey this year. It’s that exact scenario that they find themselves in now: Win and you’re in.

The team is refocusing themselves already and setting their eyes on where they can still get to.

“Obviously it’s hard because you want to win the league but you still have a chance to go to nationals,” said Sanche who went to nationals two season ago. “In my experience, even if we lost [at nationals two years ago], it was a great experience.”

There may be some doubting that they can get there now. They were a low seeded team heading into the playoffs, are now coming off of a blowout loss, and have to travel into enemy territory in Ontario.

That kind of adversity and underdog mentality is what the team has thrived on all season though. Whether it was injuries, suspensions, officiating trouble, the players reminded themselves that they had something to push back against.

“It’s been kind of our story the whole year,” said Stingers defenceman Carl Neill. “We didn’t play to our best capabilities throughout the season, so coming into the playoffs we ranked a bit lower. It might be the case next week now. It’s familiar territory for us. I’m sure the boys will be ready.”

They’re back to embracing that idea and certainly aren’t feeling scared of the new challenges this last chance game is going to bring them.

“It’ll be good for us to go down there and just work,” said Sanche. “We don’t have pressure. We’re just gonna play hockey and get a win.”

Some players have been in this exact spot before. Neill, Sanche, defender Alexandre Gosselin, and centre Jean-Philippe Beaulieu were all on the Stingers team that fell to McGill in the playoffs two years ago before beating the York Lions and earning a spot at nationals.

These players and their coach are reminding the young team that, regardless of the loss, their goal is right there for taking because they’ve seen it before. That’s certainly rubbed off on the rest of the Stingers.

We’ve been going through adversity all year, this is just another stepping stone,” said Hylland. “We’re going to take the sting of this loss with us and we’re going to carry it into the next game [as motivation].”

Hylland and his team feel they can make some noise and upset the country’s best. Now they just need to earn the chance to do so with one more win.


Photos by Ora Bar


Concordia 3, Carleton 1: The Stingers have caught fire and are a breath away from a championship

The underdog upset has actually been completed.

The Concordia Stingers, who had just 31 points and 13 wins in the regular season, have swept the OUA’s top team, the Carleton Ravens.

These are the Ravens that shutout the Stingers in the first game of the year, finished the season with 49 points and just four losses, and were ranked as the third best team in Canada.

Not one word of that mattered when the Stingers took the ice Saturday night.

“The good guys came out on top,” said Stingers defenceman Carl Neill.

In an arena with a crowd that spent the night cheering and chanting (a few creative ones got thrown Carleton’s way, particularly by the Stingers football players in attendance), the Stingers’ play was as electric as the atmosphere that threatened to blow the roof off the Ed Meagher Arena.

Like last week against McGill, the Stingers were a model of efficiency.

They generated chances from different areas to keep the Ravens defense guessing, the controlled play with simple, smartly executed rushes, and they shut down almost every chance that came their way.

It wasn’t always pretty. It was always smothering, fast, and effective.

The team was roaring at every level of play. Their forwards were pushing the Ravens into their own end and forcing them to scramble. The D broke up play after play while joining the rush and goalie Kyle Jessiman showed up big (more on him later).

The second period against the Ravens may have been their best of the season. Three goals, over 20 shots, few chances against, and a sense of dominance.

“It looked like the ice was tilted in their end. The puck wasn’t getting out and we had a bunch of  chances. When they did get a few chances, [Jessiman] stood on his head,” said Neill.

While the game was a good example of every player rolling, Jessiman and a few others shined. The rookie goalie shut down everything, earning chants of “MVP” from the crowd, particularly after two late saves in the second that both looked like sure goals.

The team’s second line was also unstoppable. Jean-Philippe Beaulieu played the game of his life, scoring two goals and stymieing Carleton chances all night. He, along with Chase Harwell and Felix Lauzon shut down Carleton while creating chance after chance offensively.

“I wouldn’t even say it’s the second line. I’d say it’s a 1a/1b situation. That’s huge for us. That depth is what you need in the playoffs,” said rookie Tyler Hylland.

Now the Stingers find themselves in the OUA East finals. Two wins from a spot at nationals. It’s been a bumpy road, but one that they feel has made them stronger.

They battled for their position in the standings all season, finishing fifth in the division.

The Stingers were plagued with injuries, losing both starting goaltenders, their top veteran forward for half the year, one of their top rookie recruits, and up to eight players on a given night.

They also dealt with several suspensions, including one to one of their top players in Neill. Adversity has been a frequently used word around the team.

We were frustrated by bad luck. Injuries, suspensions. It felt like we could never get our full team out there,” said Hylland.

The team believed in itself though. One thing kept being repeated: “when we’re at our best we can compete with anyone in the country.”

It may have sounded off early in the year, but when they caught fire after Christmas, when the team was finally healthy and added Jessiman in net and Lauzon on the wing, it began to look more and more true.

They were competing with, and beating, top teams. All of a sudden the offense was potent and they were allowing fewer and fewer goals.

[We’re] starting to play like the team that we are,” said Neill.

Now, they’ve solidified themselves as true contenders. They’ve beaten rival McGill in a close series and swept one of the best teams in the country. They’re riding the high of underdog wins against teams that they certainly don’t like.

The mood is great for the Stingers.

“This is one of the best years in my entire career,” said Sanche. “The guys are having fun and it shows on the ice. We’ve been having fun since after Christmas. Even when we lost four in a row. Then we just started rolling. The boys got onto the bus and they’re playing simple, great hockey.”

The Stingers will take on the Ottawa Gee Gees in the OUA East Final, a team they had a 2-1-0 record against in the regular season.

While they may not have entered the playoffs at the top of the standings, they came into the postseason winning four games in a row and six of their last seven. Back then, Hylland said that regardless of their position in the standings, teams knew they didn’t want to play Concordia.

Two playoff series and another four game win streak later, and the Stingers have certainly proven that they’re not a team anyone should look forward to facing.


Photos by Alex Hutchins


Carl Neill: a Stingers odyssey

It’s not unusual for Carl Neill to spend plenty of time handling the puck—he’s the Stingers’ top defenceman.

Even for a defenceman, in the first period against the Nipissing Lakers, his teammates were making sure to feed him the puck as much as they could.

Finally, near the end of the period, the puck went from Neill’s stick to the back of the net. It was a powerplay goal, like many he’d scored before. But this time, the celebration by his teammates was something special.

“I’m really, really proud of him, we all are,” said Neill’s coach, Marc-André Élement.

Neill’s goal was his 84th point as a member of the Concordia Stingers. He had just moved into first place, as the highest scoring defenceman in Stingers history.

“It’s a great honour,” said Neill, who sits just one short of the team’s all-time assist record as well. When he learned he was approaching both records after just three seasons with the team, the stingers alternate captain was shocked.

Carl Neill reflects on his three years as a Concordia Stingers

“I know Concordia’s been around forever,” said Neill. “I imagined there’s some guys a couple hundred years back that must have got a few points so I never really thought of that.”

Maybe he was surprised, but anyone that’s watched him over the last three seasons shouldn’t be. He’s dominated the university game since day one. He’s been one of the country’s best blueliners and made his mark in the Stingers’ history books.

In his three years Neill has collected awards on and off the ice, all-star nominations, and a collection of impressive stats that any player would be proud of.

He has played overseas representing his country, gone to the national university hockey championships, and done it all with the flare to his game that’s allowed him to be one of the top players in the league.

Neill joined the Stingers with a shining resume in junior hockey. He was captain of the Sherbrooke Phoenix in the QMJHL, where he set records just like he’s started to do with the Stingers.

His 178 points rank fourth all-time in Phoenix history while his 139 assists are second overall. Among defencemen though, he is the sole leader in both, along with goals (39).

Sherbrooke was also where he would end up meeting his best friend, future roommate and Stingers teammate Chase Harwell.

The two played three seasons together with the Phoenix and joined forces again a few years later at Concordia. Harwell’s face lights up with a big smile whenever the topic of his teammate and former captain comes up.

“He’s my best friend,” said Harwell. “We grew up together. He’s a great guy, I’m just so happy to see him have that success. He deserves it.”

Chase Harwell and Neill have played together as teammates for six seasons at the junior and university levels combined

His impressive junior career was enough to get him drafted into the NHL. In the fifth round of the NHL entry draft, the Vancouver Canucks chose Neill. He went on to play in several professional training camps before deciding to take the U Sports route and earn a degree before trying to head to the pro leagues when things didn’t work out in terms of the NHL.

Looking back, there’s no doubt in his mind that he made the right choice by going down the U Sports path.

“I made the right decision coming here,” said Neill. “Coming out of junior, not knowing much of what U Sports is Marc told me it was a good program here. I had faith in him and he had faith in me. It coupled well. I’m really happy about my decision. I’m happy I didn’t go to McGill [instead].”

While it’s been gaining traction and notoriety, U Sports isn’t a league that every player knows about coming out of junior. Neill was entering a completely new world and system of hockey. He’s become a major advocate for the league now, but three years ago, it was a leap of faith.

From the moment Neill walked into the Ed Meagher arena, the expectations were sky-high for him. He was the marquee rookie of a strong class of first years. His coach expected him to come in and become a number one defenceman early on.

“He’s going to be the guy who leads the power play, he’s going to be the quarterback,” said Élement just before Neill’s rookie season in 2017. “I’m pretty sure he’s going to be one of the top defencemen in the league.”

Despite any internal or external pressure to come in and be a top player in a new league, Neill played like a veteran from his very first game.

A cerebral player, he was a key contributor in what would be an explosive offense that season. He showed the vision and ability to rush the puck up ice that earned him NHL attention and became an instant player that opposing teams had to gameplan for.

“He certainly lived up to the expectations,” said former stingers captain Philippe Hudon. “He never second-guessed his decision to play U Sports hockey, and coupled with his desire to become a better hockey player, he was an immediate impact to our team and has done wonders since then.”

Neill would end up leading the entire country in scoring by a defenceman with 31 points in 28 games. His team was one of the top eight in the league, earning a trip to the national championship for the first time in over 30 years for Concordia.

Neill has been the back bone of the Stingers’ defensive group since he joined the team back in 2017

While Neill and the Stingers ended up losing, the defender was rewarded for his impressive rookie season. He was named to the OUA East first all-star team as well as the U Sports all-rookie team.

Off the ice, he was presented with the Guy Lafleur award for his combination of success in the game as well as in the classroom. All in all, a good start to his university career.

His second season, the team lost their top two scorers, including league MVP Anthony Beauregard. Instead of an offensive step back, or sophomore slump, Neill kicked it up a notch. Despite a less productive team, he upped his season totals to 33 points, good enough for second in the country among defencemen. He was named to the OUA East all-star team and earned OUA defenceman of the year honours.

On top of that, he was selected to the FISU games to represent Canada in Russia once his season ended. He was among the team of top university players that won bronze at the tournament.

At the start of the year though, another of Neill’s talents was recognized. He was named an assistant captain for the team and his leadership became a major part of his role on the team. The message constantly repeated by teammates is that Neill takes care of people.

As much as his sarcastic prodding and joking are a part of him, he is someone who truly cares for the wellbeing of his teammates.

He helped recruit former teammates like Harwell and Hugo Roy and made sure they and their fellow rookies were brought into the fold immediately and never had to feel like outsiders.

“Obviously he’s an amazing hockey player but on the other side he’s just a great dude,” said Harwell. “If a guy needs a ride, he picks them up. If a guy is having trouble at home or with his girlfriend, he’s there for you. He’s the guy you want on your team.”

Neill’s goal was always to make the guys comfortable, to show them the ropes and have his teammates enjoy an environment where they felt supported and relaxed.

“It’s important to have that on a team,” said Neill, listing past teammates like Hudon who helped him as a rookie. “I came here my first year, not really knowing what was going on. It’s good to pass the torch and help the boys along.”

He’s the kind of player that teammates light up when asked to talk about him. The respect for Neill in the Stingers locker room is evident.

While this past season may not have been as statistically dominant as the last two (20 points in 25 games), Neill had plenty to celebrate.

He played a preseason game as a member of a Quebec U Sports all-star team against the top prospects of the Montreal Canadiens and etched his name across the Stingers record books.

“All the credit goes to him and his work ethic,” said Élement.

Neill now sits 12th all-time in scoring in Stingers history in addition to sitting second all-time in assists and leading among defencemen.

And for the first time, his Stingers future is uncertain. Neill has turned down pro offers every season. He has focused on finishing his degree before turning to the professional world.

Where he’ll be next year, whether it’s at Concordia or on a new team in the pro sphere, is unclear.

If he is wearing a non-Concordia jersey next season, those around him think he’ll be just as successful in that league as he has been in U sports.

“I certainly think he can bring that same impact at the pro level,” said Hudon. “He has tremendous hockey sense. [He’s] capable of effectively fending off attackers as much as anchoring the blue line. Not to mention his high skill level and smooth skating abilities.”

If it’s Neill’s last run with the Stingers, there would be no better way to cap it off than another run to nationals. Despite an up and down year for the team that has been plagued by injuries, the Stingers are red hot heading into the postseason.

Neill called the mood in the room similar to the excitement of his first year where they made their run to nationals.

He definitely has his mind set on getting back there and his teammates can tell.

Neill amassed 84 points in 81 games as a member of the Concordia Stingers

“He wants it bad, he’s pushing even harder,” said Harwell. “It motivates the guys to go even harder as well.”

Looking back to the end of Neill’s first season, when asked if he felt like he was a number one defenceman as his coach had suggested, the rookie said not yet, but maybe next year.

Since then he’s become a franchise leader for defensive scoring, collected all-star nominations, academic awards, represented his country, and made his mark on the team.

When asked the same question at the end of this season, he had a similar answer.

“I don’t know, there’s a lot of number one defencemen in our league. I guess it depends on the night,” said Neill.

After all of this, it is probably safe to say that Neill can call himself not only a number one defenceman, but one of Concordia’s all-time greats.


Concordia 2, McGill 1: Efficiency over flash as the Stingers win the battle of Montreal

The Concordia Stingers are moving on after winning the battle of Montreal. With a game three win against McGill, they’ve made their way into the OUA East semifinals.

After a barnburning comeback victory the night before, another high flying, flashy shootout of a game wouldn’t have been out of the question.

Instead, the Stingers provided a tight, smothering, efficient game of fundamental hockey that would be any coach’s dream.

Two powerplay goals in the second period and a complete shutdown of their cross-town rivals in the third was a recipe for success.

“It was the way both teams had the game plans set up, like a chess match,” said Stingers defenceman Carl Neill. “There weren’t many goals going, not many chances. But when we got our chances we put them in, luckily, so for us it was about keeping their chances to a minimum.”

They certainly did that. McGill’s potent offence was stymied as Neill and the rest of the defence smothered McGill’s forwards, cutting down shooting lanes and moving the puck out of their end with composure.

That, combined with some key saves from rookie goaltender Kyle Jessiman and a strong puck management game from their forwards showed another side of Concordia that McGill just wasn’t ready for.

It may not provide a collection of highlight reel goals but the Stingers game plan and execution were textbook examples of how to win when it comes to tight, low scoring playoff hockey.

The fact that they could roll four lines and three defensive pairings that could handle this made it that much easier to do this throughout the series.

“Everyone chipped in,” said Stingers forward Tyler Hylland, who had three goals in the series. “We had guys up and down the lineup step up all series long. It wasn’t just one guy or one line. The two games we won, all the lines were going, everyone was playing well. That’s what you need in the playoffs.”

What’s interesting is that the Stingers started the series on the other side of a 2-1 loss at McGill. However, it was in the late stages of that game that they started to figure out what exactly they needed to do to win this series.

Stingers winger Chase Harwell noted that the team spent much of game one focusing on McGill and their game. They were playing a game based on McGill’s style of play, rather than focusing on what had brought them success in the past: their game.

From that point on, it was Concordia’s series. They controlled the play completely in the third period of the first game, outshot McGill by double in the second game, and fully stifled their rivals’ offence in the third. All by playing their game.

“We’ve been sticking to our game, focusing on ourselves and what we can do to beat them. We stuck to our thing and they couldn’t handle it,” said Harwell.

McGill couldn’t get under their skin in game three, but Concordia forced their opponents to take some penalties out of frustration.

The tight, efficient, in-your-face style of game that may not always be pretty was exemplified by Harwell who scored the game-winning goal off of a tough rebound.

Harwell was all over McGill both offensively and defensively. He found success on the powerplay and penalty kill, drew penalties, and threw a collection of hits that kept McGill players looking over their shoulders.

“He battled the whole series,” said Stingers head coach Marc-André Élement. “He’s a playoff guy, he blocked shots. I found he was the best player on the ice tonight. He was in their face, playing the right way. I’ve gotta give him credit.”

With this win, Harwell and his teammates found out that they can win big games whether they’re high scoring battles or defensive showdowns; a major confidence boost for them as they move further into the playoffs.

“We’re a young team still. Having both [experienced both high and low scoring wins] just adds to our experience, knowing that we can play in any [type of] game,” said Hylland.

They’ll need that confidence as they get set to take on the Carleton Ravens, the top seeded team in the division. It’s sure to be a difficult matchup with plenty of animosity. If there’s a team that rivals the bitterness of the Concordia/McGill matchup, it’s Carleton.

But the team is feeling confident heading in, and, for a few hours after the game at least, they’re soaking things in.

“It doesn’t get much better than this,” said Neill.


Photos by Laurence Brisson Dubreuil


Concordia 5, McGill 4: Stingers win OT thriller to force game three

Plenty of coaches and teams love to preach character and attitude, to the point where it becomes a cliché. 

Then games like game two between Concordia and McGill happen and the definition becomes clearer.

In one of the most intense, exciting Stingers games in recent memory, Concordia mounted a comeback to force a decisive game three in this opening round of the playoffs.

Looking like underdogs early in the game and facing elimination with a loss, the team never slowed down or looked to have quit throughout the game, regardless of their cross-town rivals’ advantages at different points in the game.

“No one doubted us in the room. There was good vibes in the room and good vibes on the bench too,” said Stingers defenceman Carl Neill.

Neill and his team trailed 2-0, 3-1, and 4-2 throughout the game and climbed right back into things each time. Neill said they embraced their “us against the world” mentality and just pushed through a number of roadblocks in the game.

The Stingers battled a slow start and some self-inflicted damage caused by penalties leading to McGill goals in the first period. They dug themselves a hole that got deepened by factors that would be hard to lay at their door.

For example, captain Philippe Sanche was hauled down at the opposing net but somehow earned a penalty himself for that.  Then there was the penalty shot.

Philippe Sanche was mixing it up physically all night

McGill was awarded a penalty shot late in the second period, leading 3-2. After the shot, a no-goal call was made, only for the referee to change his mind seconds later and call it a McGill goal—something coaches and players had never seen before. There are no goal reviews in U Sports so reversing calls is not something that usually happens.

The puck looked to have stopped on the line or against the post but once the no-goal call was overturned, McGill’s Michael Cramarossa skated over to Concordia’s bench for an extravagant celebration right in the Stingers’ faces, earning himself a ten minute misconduct penalty.

Several stingers players called this the true turning point of the game. Concordia was already outshooting McGill and controlling much of the play in the second. But suddenly, down 2 goals and headed into the third, they had some extra motivation right in their face.

“I don’t want to say it’s childish, but at a certain point, you’re in the playoffs,” said Neill. “I believe in the hockey gods and karma, so I wouldn’t be doing anything like that. If that’s your thing go for it. But I’ve never seen that turn things in your favour.”

The Stingers of the third period were something else. The team began to use its speed to push McGill, breaking through the neutral zone and creating strong rushes on the fly. McGill was suddenly getting beat back more and more and by the end of the game, the Stingers nearly doubled the visitors shot count with 50.

“We’ve been working for two weeks on our neutral zone regroups and I think we applied that really well tonight,” said the Stingers’ hero of the game, Anthony Beauchamp who made an impressive play to set up the Stingers third goal before tying the game at four with a goal of his own midway through the third.

Jake Fletcher battles for the puck against McGill’s Nikolas Brouillard

The Stingers never-say-die attitude carried them through the third and much of the second. Smiles could be seen across their faces and there was no doubt that the teams matched each other physically in a heavy hitting matchup like this. When Stingers winger Chase Harwell spent some time berating and challenging McGill’s entire bench, it didn’t seem out of place thanks to the Stingers maintaining what Neill calls their swagger.

“I’m proud of the guys,” said Sanche. “If you want to be successful, especially in the playoffs, you have to be in their face. You can’t go down, it’s do or die. That happened tonight.”

As the Stingers dominated the third and forced overtime, everyone appreciated the team effort, but Beauchamp was the clear focus of the win.

One of the Stingers’ fastest players, he has consistently been referred to by teammates as one of their hardest workers as well. When he was on the ice, McGill often found themselves scrambling to keep up with his speedy breakouts and forceful rushes.

“He started on the bottom line and climbed his way up [the lineup tonight], so I’m really proud of him,” said Stingers head coach Marc-André Élement.

So who better to finish this underdog comeback? On a rush into McGill’s zone in overtime, a McGill player ended up on his knees as defenceman Gabriel Bilodeau skated in with Beauchamp suddenly unguarded.

As the pass slipped over to him, Beauchamp closed his eyes and ripped a shot with everything he had. His teammates knew it was the game winner before it had the time to even bounce back out of the net. The Ed Meagher arena exploded in cheers as coaches jumped up and down and the bench emptied of players on their way to swarm their teammate.

“That’s why we play hockey. Everyone in the room got goosebumps after that,” said Beauchamp with a smile.


Photos by Cecilia Piga


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


Concordia 5, Ontario Tech 1: Stingers cement fifth place finish in regular season

The Concordia Stingers men’s hockey team won their last regular season game against the Ontario Tech Ridgebacks in convincing fashion by a score of 5-1. 

In a season of ups and (a lot) of downs, the Stingers head into the playoffs in a great position. Since Christmas, the Stingers have a 7-3-2 record and have won four straight games. On top of it all, Kyle Jessiman has done a fantastic job replacing Marc-Antoine Turcotte—in 10 games, Jessiman has a .919 save percentage.

Head coach Marc-André Élement was pleased with his team’s overall play on Friday.

“We had a really good start, the guys showed up,” said Élement. “It’s the last game of the season, so we wanted to start on a high note heading into the playoffs. I thought it was a really good team performance.”

The Stingers dominated the game from start to finish, outshooting the Ridgebacks 31-19. But even with the low work rate needed from Jessiman, he still managed to make some highlight reel saves.

“He’s playing really well, he plays the puck well too and it really helps out the [defence],” Élement said. “He deserves all the credit. He works really hard.”

One of the many positives coming out of the game was the team’s depth players contributing most of the offense in the game. Colin Grannary scored two goals and Jeremy Diotte scored his first goal as a member of the Stingers.

Captain Philippe Sanche, who also scored a goal, was very happy with the team’s game as well, and felt like a lot of pressure is being taken off of him, Tyler Hylland and Alexander Katerinakis as their depth has been pitching in offensively.

“You always want to get help from all four lines. That’s why we’re having success right now,” said Sanche. “[Jake] Fletcher and [Colin] Grannary have been getting points, it’s really good for us overall.”

The Stingers’ opening round playoff opponent is still to be determined, but what is known is that game one of their series will be on Wednesday night, against either McGill or the University of Ottawa who still have two games left in their seasons. Game two will be at the Ed Meagher Arena on Saturday and should there be a need for a game three, it will be on Sunday.

Feature photo by Kyran Thicke, Concordia Stingers Athletics

Exit mobile version