Most exciting Stinger moments of 2011-12

During the course of a long year, teams go through many ups and downs.

And seeing as no one wants to relive the low points because they’re depressing, let’s use this school year’s final edition of The Concordian to take a trip down memory lane and remember the best games from this season.

Men’s basketball

RSEQ semifinals — Feb. 29

Concordia 66 vs. Laval 65

This was by far the most exciting game of the school year. Playing in front of a packed and rowdy gym at home, Concordia was a heavy favourite against the Rouge et Or. Only Laval didn’t seem to care. Despite going 5-11 in the regular season (nine fewer wins than Concordia), Laval was up six points with just over two minutes remaining in the fourth quarter and seemed poised to pull off the upset of the year. Then the Stingers turned it on. Concordia forced four turnovers in the final two minutes, electrifying the small gym which was about as loud as a 20,000-seat arena that night. All-star guard Kyle Desmarais scored five points in the final 30 seconds to advance Concordia to the RSEQ finals where they would defeat UQAM and move to nationals.

Men’s hockey came up short of the playoffs but did manage to upset rival McGill twice in the regular season. Photo by Navneet Pall


Women’s basketball

RSEQ semifinals — Feb. 28

Concordia 65 vs. Bishop’s 53

Concordia struggled down the stretch in the regular season and played a horrendous first quarter against Bishop’s. Down 24-7 after the game’s opening 10 minutes, it looked as though the season was going to come to an abrupt and disappointing end. Things began to turn around in the second quarter though. Conference MVP Kaylah Barrett scored 10 points in the quarter and helped bring the Stingers within four points of the Gaiters. After a halftime pep talk from coach Keith Pruden, the Stingers came out going for the jugular. Sharpshooting and tough defensive play gave the Stingers an eight-point lead into the fourth and the team never looked back. It was the team’s biggest comeback of the season.


Men’s hockey

Regular season — Feb. 3

Concordia 4 vs. McGill 2

Battling for their playoff lives, the Stingers were in tough on the road in McGill’s McConnell Arena playing the future national champs. Not to be intimidated by the circumstances though, Concordia defeated its archrival for the second time in the season—two of McGill’s only six losses came against the Stingers this year. Tied at one in the third period, Michael Blundon and George Lovatsis scored power-play goals within 32 seconds of each other to give Concordia a 3-1 lead that they would not relinquish. The win put Concordia in the driver’s seat in the OUA east playoff race. However, the Stingers came up short of the post-season.


Women’s rugby

RSEQ semifinals — Oct. 21

Concordia 18 vs. McGill 8

After a successful regular season, Concordia faced its rival in the semis and, for the second time of the year, defeated McGill. The game was very close, but the Stingers were able to dig deep and advance to the RSEQ finals for the second year in a row. Unfortunately, Laval put up a roadblock again, denying Concordia a trip to nationals.


Stingers get back on track with weekend sweep

Taylor Garner battles off defenders in Concordia's victory over UQAM. Photo by Navneet Pall

After watching an archrival end their perfect season last week, the Concordia Stingers were anxious to get back on the court this weekend against Laval and UQAM and atone for the loss to McGill.

Concordia turned in two impressive performances, beating Laval 80-59 on Friday at home, and then picking up a 73-62 win at UQAM.

The slow starts and periods of lackadaisical play that plagued the Stingers in recent weeks were addressed this week during practice, and the changes were noticed come game time.

“I think it was our attitude on the team [that made the difference],” said coach John Dore. “The guys had a wake-up call. We had better practices, we were more focused and intense, and maybe had a bit better understanding of what we need to do.”

While he was happy with his team’s effort, Dore was never too concerned with the overall motivation level of his team. “The guys should get excited about playing the games, that’s why we work so hard in practice,” he said. “They’re here because they want to be here, so it shouldn’t be hard to get motivated.”

On Friday night, it was guard Kyle Desmarais leading the way for the Stingers with 18 points and seven assists. Despite falling behind by nine points early in the game, Concordia battled back to take a lead into the second quarter and would not trail again in the game.

Concordia faced a quick turnaround from the Laval game and was on the court against UQAM on Saturday. The Stingers jumped out to an early 17-4 lead, and though they let UQAM back into the game, Concordia dominated play for the most part and was never seriously threatened late in the game. Rookie guard Jerome Blake led the Stingers in scoring with 16 points in just 19 minutes coming off the bench.

With five games remaining in the season, Concordia has a six-point lead over second place McGill. Thus far the Stingers have been right on par with coach Dore’s preseason expectations.

“I thought we had a chance to be in first place and I sort of expected to be in first place,” said Dore. “I don’t know if I expected [to be in first by six points]. Our goal right now is to create some distance from the pack.”

Dore has never been one to rest players down the stretch, even if playoff seeding has been determined, but given some tough late season scheduling it is not something that has been ruled out.


Concordia’s next game is this  Friday at 8 p.m. against Bishop’s at Loyola.


Second period gale gets Stinger win over Queen’s

Concordia improved its record to 5-1 at home over the weekend with a 6-1 win against the Queen’s Golden Gaels on Saturday afternoon. Concordia has yet to win away from home, though, posting a 0-4 record outside the friendly confines of Ed Meagher Arena.

Samuel Morneau (7) scored in the Stingers 6-1 win over Queen's. Photo by Navneet Pall

Saturday’s game was a quick turnaround for the Stingers who had played Friday night at home against Ryerson, picking up a 3-1 win.

Concordia looked a bit sluggish in the first period, getting outshot by Queen’s 11-7, yet the Stingers still managed to get into the first intermission with a 1-0 lead, thanks to a goal by George Lovatsis.

The Stingers awoke in the second period, though, and buried Queen’s.

“It’s hard to play back-to-back [night and day games],” said Stingers coach Kevin Figsby. “We came out a little slow in the first period, but dominated the last 40 to 45 minutes.”

Just 46 seconds into the period, captain Eric Begin stretched the lead to two. With Queen’s goalie Steele De Fazio scrambling around searching for the puck, Alexandre Monahan circled behind the Gaels’ net and passed out to Begin who buried a low slap-shot into the open net.

The crushing dagger came later in the period when Queen’s was trailing 3-0, but were operating on the powerplay.

Stingers defenceman Etienne St. Germain gained control of the puck in his own end and sent a beautiful saucer pass over the head of a Queen’s defenceman, springing Charles-Antoine Messier on a partial breakaway.

Messier, fending off a back-checker, was able to deke De Fazio onto his stomach and bury a shot into the top of the net. Messier finished the game with two goals and an assist. He now has nine points in 10 games this season.

Concordia would add another goal in the second period, en route to the 6-1 thrashing.

“The key is to work hard,” said Messier. “We were trying to focus defensively, but still gave up a lot of shots. Fortunately our goalie played well and we won.”

Peter Karvouniaris got a rare start in net, in place of Nicholas Champion who was out with the flu. Karvouniaris faced 40 shots and made some spectacular saves in the win. “It feels good a couple days before to know you’re going to play,” said Karvouniaris. “It was good for me to get mentally prepared, and any opportunity you get you try to do the best you can.”

Concordia allowed 40 shots in a game for the fifth time this season (and have twice allowed 39), and has given up the most shots in the country.

Coach Figsby, though, says the numbers can be misleading and it isn’t something he’s concerned with. “Sometimes when you’re playing on the road the home team [score keepers] will pad their [shot count],” he said. “I think a couple times our shot total has been reversed with the other teams. Once that gets on a website there’s nothing you can do about it. We’ve won four of our last five games, so if that means giving up a few more shots I’ll take it.”

The Stingers’ next game is Nov. 11 at 7 p.m. on the road against Nippissing.



Offensive outburst thrusts Stingers into playoffs

On the day when the Stingers needed their A-game the most, it was there. 

Needing a win, or a Bishop’s loss to Laval, Concordia left nothing to chance last Saturday at Molson Stadium, rolling over the McGill Redmen 58-30, and securing themselves a spot in the playoffs. In clinching the game, Concordia also won its ninth-straight Shaughnessy Cup match. The annual football showdown between Concordia and McGill has been taking place since 1969.

The Stingers were given a good fight by the Redmen in the first half, as they led by only three points heading into the second half, but 28 unanswered points in the third quarter sealed it for Concordia.

Concordia is now heading into the RSEQ playoffs as the fourth seed. They’ll travel to Quebec City next week to take on the Laval Rouge et Or.

Laval has already beaten Concordia twice this season, 36-8 and 37-4 in the two meetings. Both games were tough losses where the Stingers failed to score a touchdown in either meetings.

“The first time I think we played them really tough,” said Stingers coach Gerry McGrath. “The second game was our only bad game of the year. We just played terribly up there, and we’ve got a lot of work to do this week to prepare.”

As for the win over McGill, things started quickly for Concordia thanks to strong play on special teams from Kris Robertson.

The halfback has been impressive all season, and after a two-and-out from McGill on the opening drive, Robertson returned a punt 45 yards to the Redmen’s 35.

Raul Thompson scored on the very next play on a 35-yard run for the score. The Stingers and Redmen battled in the first half, with McGill looking to avoid a winless season.

McGill’s Austin Anderson kicked a 43-yard field goal in the final seconds of the half to cut the score to 20-17.

The Redmen had no answer for Concordia in the second half, as the Stingers moved the ball methodically with a short passing game. Concordia started the onslaught with a 14-yard touchdown pass to Sanchez Deschamps. On the next drive, they got the score quickly with a 65-yard touchdown pass to Michael Donnelly who caught the short screen pass and rumbled his way through and around the McGill defence to the end zone.

On McGill’s ensuing drive, linebacker Max Caron intercepted a pass in the red zone to stop the Redmen’s threat. Concordia turned that into more points, as Reid Quest found Kris Bastien for a 40-yard touchdown pass. On the ensuing kickoff, McGill fumbled, giving the Stingers the ball at the McGill 25-yard line. Once again, Concordia capitalized as Quest hit Edem Nyamadi for a five-yard touchdown pass. Quest finished the game with 23 completions on 31 attempts, with 356 yards, five touchdowns and no interceptions.

Caron made history in the second half, by breaking the RSEQ single season record for tackles, finishing the season with 78.5. In addition to that, he got his fifth interception of the season in the fourth quarter, and returned it 96 yards for the score.

Caron’s two interceptions brought his season total to five. He finished the season leading the CIS in tackles, solo tackles (67) and interceptions, making him the hands-on favourite to win the Defensive Player of the Year award.

“I just try to come out strong every week,” said Caron. “I’m blessed to have such a great unit around me. I’m fortunate enough to make the plays I did, but the guys around me have been a tremendous help.”

McGrath agrees that Caron deserves the award, but not just for his numbers. “He’s just had a phenomenal year, but what doesn’t show up on his stat sheet is how great of a leader he is.”

McGill added some points late when the game was out of hand, blocking a punt for a score and a late touchdown pass by Ryne Bondy to Michael Chitayat. Bondy broke the school’s single game record for pass attempts with 65.

Now Concordia will look for the huge upset on the road this Saturday. The odds are stacked against them. Laval may beat Concordia nine times out of 10, but all it takes is one win in football.


Concordia takes on Laval in Quebec City on Nov. 5 at 1 p.m. in the RSEQ semi-finals.



Stingers advance past McGill to finals

A swift Stinger charge in the second half left the McGill Martlets speechless in the RSEQ semi-finals. A passing McGill player was overheard murmuring, “I can’t believe it, I don’t know what happened.”

Ball control was crucial for Concordia in their 18-8 RSEQ semi-final victory over cross town rival McGill. Concordia faces Laval in the finals next week. Photo by Anthony Isabella

During the first half, the Stingers started off shaky by repeatedly not getting straight lineouts, and allowing McGill various free kicks. However, Concordia clearly dominated the scrums and the drives by keeping low and binding strong. As a result, the Stingers gained continuous possession and lots of yards.
Fourteen minutes into the first half, Concordia fly-half Erika Hamilton scored the first try as she pulled a clever play.
“Erika’s was a great solo effort, we had practiced shooting gaps and she shot the gap she used the other runner as a dummy that was fantastic,” said Stingers head coach Graeme McGravie.
Near the end of the first half, McGill was desperately attempting to get points on the board before halftime, since they were unable to break free from Concordia’s strong defence.
With two minutes left in the first half, Casey Thorburn, a centre for McGill, scored a try thanks to some quick passes and excellent linebreaks, evening the score, 5-5.
With 16 minutes left on the board in the second half, McGill seemed to try to play up their offence, getting dangerously close to Concordia territory when the back line was pushing through.
However, McGill was called for a penalty allowing Hamilton to quickly execute an excellent kick to the ball to clear their line.
This was followed by effective driving mauls and quick tackles every time McGill attempted a run. The pressure on McGill pushed them to make simple errors such as gaining offside penalties. This made it easier for Concordia to keep possession and charge with full force to gain territory. Concordia inevitably scored another try, winning the game 18-8.
The Stingers speedy centre, Latoya Blackwood, greatly contributed to the win. She charged fearlessly during the second half, after some great passes were made by her teammates.
“I’m proud of how we overcame challenges,” said Blackwood. A yellow card for No. 8 Hughanna Gaw was one of those moments. “We were down a player for about 10 minutes, but we stuck together and were not defeated. We did what we needed to do to win.”
Concordia played with more confidence and coordination in the second half.
“In the first half we didn’t play our game at all,” said Blackwood. “We let McGill control the pace and so second half we just wanted to go out there and accomplish the goals we planned out during practice and we succeeded at it.”
Even McGill head coach Vince deGrandpré was impressed by the Stingers. “I think that [Concordia] might be more experienced and well organized,” he said. “Those girls are committed, they’re strong, they’re fit and they deserved to win.”
DeGrandpré mentioned that star Concordia players such as Gaw, Blackwood, and Jackie Tittley are an intimidating line of players. “They’re a tough act to go up against.”
“I’m happy we won; we grabbed them down and pulled it out,” said McGravie. “They decided to stick together and play as a team rather than playing as 15 individuals.”
With a game against Laval ahead, a return to the CIS national semifinals is on the line for the Stingers. Concordia was defeated both times they played Laval this season.


Concordia will play Laval Oct. 29 at 1 p.m. in Quebec City.

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