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The three-peat is complete: Stingers women’s hockey wins RSEQ championship

Stingers beat Université de Montréal Carabins in winner-take-all game three.

Following a series win against the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees, the Concordia Stingers women’s hockey team shifted their focus to their next and final opponent in the RSEQ final— the Université de Montréal Carabins.

Though both Montréal and Concordia had clinched their tickets to the U SPORTS National Championship tournament by becoming provincial finalists, there was plenty at stake coming into this series. For the Stingers, a series win would make it their third straight RSEQ championship, a feat that has not been accomplished by Concordia since 2002. On the Montréal side, a first RSEQ title since 2019 was up for grabs, as well as revenge from last year’s heartbreaking final that saw them lose to the Stingers in three games.

The first game of the 2024 RSEQ final took place at the Ed Meagher Arena on Thursday, Feb. 29. Defense on both sides was the story of the first period. Concordia was held to 10 shots while Montréal only managed to total five, meaning quality scoring opportunities were minimal. The first period would come to a close as a scoreless draw.

Thirteen minutes into the second frame, Stingers forward and assistant captain Rosalie Bégin-Cyr broke the deadlock. Forward Jessymaude Drapeau patiently held onto the puck before finding her linemate who buried a shot past Carabins goaltender Aube Racine.

It did not take long before the Carabins evened up the game. A deflected shot from the point found its way past Stingers goaltender Jordyn Verbeek, tying the game 1-1 late in the second period.

As the third period got underway, Montréal took its first lead of the series, scoring one minute into the frame. The Stingers began to show desperation as they fired everything they had at Racine. With five minutes remaining in regulation, a golden opportunity emerged as the Stingers earned a late power play.

On the ensuing advantage, the Stingers tied it. Forward Émilie Lavoie scored on a seeing-eye wrister from the blue line, tying the game 2-2. Unfortunately, the momentum of the Stingers was short-lived.

With less than one minute on the clock, a deflected shot from the Carabins found its way into the Stingers’ cage, sealing game one for the Carabins. Stingers head coach Julie Chu offered some insight on what the message would be going into game two.

“I said to the team [today] the same as I did against Ottawa— ‘we have to reset, we have to get going and make sure that this loss is just a loss for today. So process it as you need to and don’t let it hit your heart,’” Chu shared after the loss. The message sent was received for the Stingers in game two.

As the first period got underway at CEPSUM Arena at the Université de Montréal on Saturday, March 2, the pace of play was the epitome of playoff hockey—fast-paced, physical and scoring opportunities at both ends. The Carabins came out of the gate firing, knowing the RSEQ title was in their hands with a win; but the Stingers knew if they lacked effort, their RSEQ season would end. Despite the quality chances, the first period ended 0-0.

Five minutes into the second period, the Stingers broke the tie. Forward Megan Bureau-Gagnon parked in front of the Montréal net and capitalized on a perfect deflection off a shot from forward Émilie Lussier. Bureau-Gagnon spoke on what it meant to score the opening goal.

“It felt good. The couple of shifts before the goal, we were buzzing around them so it was just a question of timing—and to put that [goal] in, it gave us a little room and we started to play freely which was great.” Once going up 1-0, the Stingers did not look back.

A goal by Drapeau in the second period and a goal by Lavoie in the third gave the Stingers the insurance they needed to close out game two. The Carabins got a goal of their own to narrow the deficit to two, but the Stingers would add an empty netter and win the game by a score of 4-1. Coach Chu spoke about returning home for the winner-take-all game three.

“We love playing at home. For us, we’re going to enjoy [the win] today but we’re going to turn the page really quick because [game three] tomorrow is going to come fast.”

The Ed Meagher Arena saw a packed crowd for the rubber match of the provincial final on Sunday, March 3. As fans supporting both sides piled in, the puck dropped to begin action. In what became a theme in the series, the first period resulted in both goalies making key saves to keep the game scoreless. This would change drastically in period two.

Three minutes into the middle frame, Montréal opened the scoring on a rebound that was put home by forward Marie Terriault. The lead for the Carabins, however, would not last long.

For a second game in a row, Bureau-Gagnon netted a huge goal for the Stingers, this time tying the game 1-1. This ignited the Stingers to take over the play overwhelmingly, resulting in an onslaught of goals.

Four goals by the Stingers over the next 12 minutes put them in command up 5-2, heading into the final period with the championship in their sight. For the players, the three goal lead, although nice, was not satisfying enough.

Following two goals by Drapeau and one from Lussier, defender Camille Richard and forward Emmy Fecteau, Concordia put the game to rest. The Stingers defeated the Carabins soundly by a score of 10-4, clinching their third straight RSEQ title. Coach Chu closed out the RSEQ season by sharing what this win means to the team heading into the National Championship.

“Anytime you win, it builds momentum. If anything, it helps us feel confident that we can go through a game where we are down a goal, where we are going through ups and downs of emotions, where the fans are incredible and the energy is great.”

The U SPORTS National Championship will be the next stop for the Stingers women’s hockey team. The team will head out to the University of Saskatchewan for March 14 where they will face the best university hockey teams from around Canada. The matchups and game times are still to be determined.

Hockey Sports

Senior night success for Stingers hockey

Both Stingers hockey teams came away with wins to close out last home games of regular season.

The Concordia Stingers men’s and women’s hockey teams both played their final home games of the regular season at the Ed Meagher Arena. With these being the final home games of the regular season, the graduating players of both Stingers teams were celebrated after their games.

After the men’s team took to the ice on Feb. 8, upcoming graduates, namely, forward Charles-Antoine Giguère, forward and assistant captain Tyler Hylland, andforward and captain Phélix Martineau, were commemorated. It was an emotional night for head coach Marc-André Elément. 

“The players gave so much time, energy and passion to our program, we always have to acknowledge that,” said Elément post game. “It is such a huge commitment to play hockey and be a student athlete, I am just so proud of them.”

If the Stingers wanted to head into the playoffs on a high note, they would have to beat the Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières Patriotes– the first-placed team in the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) East division standings. 

The Stingers took command early. Forward Nicholas Girouard opened the scoring on a shot that beat Patriotes goaltender Alexis Gravel, Concordia a 1-0 lead just four minutes into the game. Nobody would find the back of the net until the early stages of the second period.

The Patriotes’ second-highest point-scorer, forward Conor Frenette, capitalized on the power play to knot the game at one goal apiece. Scoring opportunities would continue to come at a premium, as the high-powered offence of each team was held to just 14 shots a piece through two periods.

The defence of both sides had the game locked in a stalemate for the first 15 minutes of the third period. Finally, the Concordia broke through. Stingers forward Édouard Charron received a pass from defender Simon Lavigne and scored on a close-range shot past Gravel, opening up a 2-1 Concordia lead.

The Patriotes would pull their goalie and fire all they could at Stingers goaltender Nikolas Hurtubise, but it would not be enough. The Stingers held on to a 2-1 win and closed out their regular season by beating OUA’s top team in the East division.

The Stingers men’s team will return home to Ed Meagher Arena on Friday, Feb. 16 when they take on the the Queen’s University Gaels in game two of the OUA East quarterfinals. On Feb. 14, the Stingers took the first game of the best-of-three series by a score of 3-1. Concordia will look to close out the series this Friday at 7 p.m.

On Feb. 9, it was the Stingers women’s team’s turn to celebrate their seniors. The graduates include defender Sandrine Veillette, goaltender Madison Oakes, forward and assistant captain Justine Yelle, forward and assistant captain Rosalie Bégin-Cyr, as well as forward and captain Emmy Fecteau. After the game, head coach Julie Chu spoke on how much the graduates have meant to the team over the years.

(From left to right) Dave Singh, Julie Chu, Sandrine Veillette, Madison Oakes, Emmy Fecteau, Rosalie Bégin-Cyr Justine Yelle, Devon Thompson and Olivier Gervais
Photo Credit: Concordia Athletics

“All of [the graduates] have had such a big impact on our team’s success and have helped turn the program into what it is today,” said Chu. “Every time you have a chance to honour people who have meant so much to our program, it’s very special and we are extremely grateful for their contributions.” That same success was put onto display early into their game against the Bishop’s University Gaiters.

Stingers’ top goal-scorer, forward Émilie Lussier, scored three goals in the first 14 minutes of the game to cap off a first period hat trick. Just one minute later, forward Jessymaude Drapeau added a goal of her own, opening a 4-0 Stingers lead and forcing the Gaitors to change goaltenders.

In the second period, the Stingers began to defend their lead rather than pressing on offence. The Gaitors got one goal back in the middle frame, but the Stingers were still in command of the game. Concordia owned a 30-11 shot advantage going into the third period.

Two minutes into the final period, forward Chloé Gendreau added a fifth goal for the Stingers as she split the Bishop’s defenders and scored on a beautiful backhand shot. The Gaitors would add a goal of their own, but the Stingers skated away with a win by a score of 5-2. Chu spoke about the team’s performance during this year’s senior night.

“We used our speed and we took care of the puck,” Chu explained. “Doing the little things right will always generate a lot of offense and also allow us to spend less time in the defensive zone. I think we did a lot of that tonight.”

The Stingers women’s team still has one regular season game remaining. They will play on the road against the Université de Montréal Carabins this Friday. After that, the quest is on to defend their RSEQ provincial title.

Hockey Sports

Stingers hockey teams split their weekend games as playoffs near

Men’s team drops defensive duel while women’s team continues its winning ways.

Ed Meagher Arena was home to a busy weekend of Stingers hockey. The men’s hockey team faced off against the Queen’s University Gaels on Jan. 20. Winners of their last six matches, the men’s hockey team sat in second place in the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) East division standings coming into the game.

Prior to puck drop, only two points separated the top spot in the division from fourth. Queen’s came in five points behind the Stingers, making this contest highly anticipated.

The first period kicked off with a Queen’s penalty that saw Concordia earn their first power play opportunity of the game. As the Stingers maintained possession in the Queen’s defensive zone, forward Vincent Nardonne found defender Simon Lavigne who fired a shot by Gaels’ goaltender Christian Purboo, making it 1-0 Concordia.

Not long after the Stingers tally, Queen’s forward Dalton Duhart, who is currently third in USports for points scored, tied the game 1-1.

As the second period got underway, the physicality between the two teams was increasing as the penalty minutes were adding up. Despite earning a four-minute double-minor power play late in the second frame, the Stingers could not capitalize. They finished the period with 19 shots but Purboo stood tall. Defensively, the Stingers kept high-danger opportunities to the outside of the Queen’s attacking zone, keeping shots away from their own goaltender Jordan Naylor. Neither team would find the back of the net in the second period.

The final frame got off to a quick start. The opportunistic Gaels team buried their second goal of the game coming just two minutes into the period. Shortly after, the Stingers earned an extended five-on-three power play with a chance to tie the game. More chances, but Queen’s made the timely saves, killing the penalty and gaining back the momentum. 

Gabriel Proulx (right) and Dalton Duhart (left) battle for the puck behind the net.
Photo Credited to Concordia Athletics

Stingers’ head coach Marc-André Élément discussed the team’s power play struggles postgame. “You have to give [Queen’s] credit,” Élément said. “They blocked a lot of shots and we will take a look at the video to see where we could improve. They did a good job and we need to execute a little bit better.”

The Stingers continued to claw away with chances in the offensive zone but could not buy a goal. The Gaels added an insurance marker and took the game by a final score of 3-1.

The lack of scoring seen in the men’s game was thrown out the window when the women’s game took place the following day.

The Stingers women’s hockey team faced off against the Bishop’s Gaiters on Jan. 21 in hopes of keeping their undefeated record alive. Concordia entered the game with a perfect 17-0-0 record, atop the Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec (RSEQ) division standings and the USports women’s hockey rankings for yet another week.

The first period got off to an action-filled start. Stingers forward Émilie Lavoie got the scoring started with a breakaway goal put top shelf behind Gaiters’ netminder Erika Gagnon. In the next five minutes of play, Bishop’s scored back to back goals to get a lead of their own, but this would be short-lived as well.

Just nine seconds after the Bishop’s go-ahead goal, Stingers defender Léonie Philbert scored to get the momentum back on the home side. Forward Rosalie Bégin-Cyr followed this up with a wrist-shot goal, giving the Stingers a 3-2 lead after the first period.

With frustration building for the Gaiters in the second frame, the penalty minutes continued to add up. The Stingers saw themselves on five power plays in the period, three of which they would score on. Both teams traded even-strength goals, resulting in a 7-3 score after 40 minutes of play.

The Stingers changed their game plan in the final period, sitting back on their offensive forecheck and maintaining solid defensive play. The Gaiters were held to just four shots in the third period, earning the Stingers the 7-3 victory on home ice.

Despite splitting the two games over the weekend, both Stingers teams sit in good positions with the playoffs around the corner. The men’s team will go on the road for the next two games and return home for their final three. They hit the ice next on Jan. 25 against the Royal Military College Paladins. Meanwhile, the women’s team sits peacefully atop their division in the RSEQ with seven regular season games remaining. They will face off against the Carleton Ravens in their next game on Jan. 26.

Hockey Sports

The PWHL era of hockey has begun

The new league continues to break barriers for women’s hockey just days into its start.

When the puck was dropped for the first time on Jan. 1 in Toronto, it was apparent that the new Professional Women’s Hockey League (PWHL) was bound for success.

In the span of just four months, the league has been built from the ground up. In September, each team took part in the first PWHL draft where rosters began to take shape. Fans had their first glance at what each roster would look like, sparking interest and ticket sales through the fall months. By November, teams had finalized their rosters and prepared for training camp. Once the calendar flipped to 2024, the time for teams to take to the ice was finally here.

The inaugural game saw Toronto host New York at the Mattamy Athletic Centre. The game reached a historic viewership, gathering 2.9 million views through its coverage on CBC, Sportsnet, and TSN. On top of this, Minnesota hosted Montreal on Jan. 6 in front of 13,316 fans, a new record for a professional women’s hockey game.

Locally, Montreal played their franchise’s first home game on Jan. 13. The game took place at the sold-out Verdun Auditorium in front of 3,245 fans. The large crowd at the historic venue made for an electrifying home opener. With names like Ann-Renee Desbiens, Erin Ambrose, and superstar forward Marie-Philip Poulin, it should be no surprise that Montreal’s passionate fan base is ready for a second professional hockey team. The team will split the remainder of its home games this season by playing at the Verdun Auditorium and Place Bell in Laval. 

All of the milestones this new league has already accomplished is an outstanding sign of what is yet to come. It is sometimes tough to gauge how a brand new league is doing in terms of interest from the first week of its existence. In the case of the PWHL, there is no debate that fans are ecstatic to see the action and talent this league has to offer.

As the season progresses, the PWHL will undoubtedly continue to display the skills and talent of its star players. For the first time outside of non-league tournaments, we are seeing a best-on-best professional women’s hockey league. It is the beginning of a new era— an era that is truly exciting for the players, the cities, and the fans of women’s hockey.

Basketball Hockey Sports

The new year boasts riveting home openers for the Stingers

Stingers women’s hockey stays undefeated, while the men’s and women’s basketball teams show grit against rivals at home in the new year.

The Concordia Stingers’ women’s hockey team picked up where they left off in 2023, skating to a decisive 7-0 victory over the Carleton Ravens. Both women’s and men’s basketball teams faced McGill on Thursday night, and the gym was packed for an electric night. Both Stingers squads showed tremendous grit, as matchups against McGill always spark extra emotion.

Coming into the winter break with a perfect 13-0-0 record, the Stingers have been at the top of the USports women’s hockey rankings since Nov. 7. While the team’s record speaks for itself, the fashion in which the Stingers are winning is simply remarkable.

It is not everyday that a team has six different players scoring at a point-per-game pace. But with Concordia’s Émilie Lussier, Jessymaude Drapeau, Émilie Lavoie, Chloé Gendreau, Emmy Fecteau, and Léonie Philbert, we’re witnessing this rarity. Moreover, goaltenders Arianne Leblanc and Jordyn Verbeek are ranked in the top five for goals-against average in the USports national rankings. The Stingers offensive dominance was put on display yet again when they faced off against Carleton on Jan. 6.

Right off the opening faceoff, the Stingers jumped in front of their opponents. Forwards Chloé Gendreau and Jessymaude Drapeau both scored power-play goals in the first three minutes of the game, giving the Stingers a 2-0 cushion early.

Shutdown defence and a consistent forecheck from the Stingers continued through the second period. Forwards Émilie Lavoie, Rosalie Parent, and Rosalie Bégin-Cyr all added goals of their own in the middle frame, extending the Stingers lead to 5-0.

In the final 20 minutes, Gendreau and forward Caroline Moquin-Joubert added one more goal each, while goaltender Jordyn Verbeek secured a shutout and her eighth win of the season. The Stingers’ 7-0 victory moved them to a 14-0-0 record, which was followed by a 5-0 win against the Montréal Carabins, as well as a 5-1 win against the McGill Martlets. They will look to stick to their winning ways when they faceoff at the Ottawa Gee-Gees on Jan. 19.

Concordia Stingers women’s and men’s basketball teams faced McGill on Thursday, and the gym was packed for an electric night. Both teams showed tremendous grit, as matchups against McGill always spark extra emotion.

The women’s basketball team started off hot in the first quarter. As the Martlets showed consistent offensive pressure, the Stingers displayed tough defence. Stingers forward Gretta-Olivia Ineza executed a steal and three defensive rebounds throughout her 34 minutes of gametime. However, forcing McGill to commit a shot clock violation and a few more close-calls wasn’t enough—the Stinger’s largest lead of the game was only by six points towards the end of the first quarter. At the same time, the Stingers put up their best scoring quarter of the game, putting up 20 points.

The two top scorers of the game played on the away side, as centre Kristy Awikeh and point guard Daniella Mbengo put up 21 and 17 points, respectively. Both showed incredible stamina to find the play, regardless of how much pressure was applied. Mbengo, who played for 30 minutes, recorded six assists, more than anyone else on the court, making it look easy to find the right decisions in tough situations. She also made all five of her free throws. 

It was too little too late for the Stingers, as the Martlets were up by 15 points towards the end of the third quarter, and started the last quarter ahead by 11. It seemed as though star point guard Areej Burgonio’s nasty fadeaway-and-one three-pointer reignited the flame for the home team in the last seconds of the third quarter. The crowd erupted into a cacophony as she held up three fingers with both her hands from the ground. Despite exuberant and desperate efforts in the last 12 minutes of the game, it seemed as though Burgonio’s efforts weren’t enough. The Stingers lost 74-66.

“[McGill] played with a lot more heart, a lot more grit,” said Stingers head coach Tenicha Gittens. “The biggest thing for me was on the rebounds. [McGill had] 25 rebounds and we got 16. You’re not going to win a game like that. Pretty much everything else is even on the stat sheet.” Despite the eventual loss, Gittens seemed satisfied with the reduction of caused turnovers compared to before the break.

“We’re trying to get to the championship game and win it,” the head coach concluded. “So you can’t just sit in your loss. This can break us, or it can make us better. And we’re going to make it make us better.”

The Stingers then lost to the Martlets 68-50 on Saturday. Concordia sits in third place out of five in the RSEQ, with a 4-4 record.

The men’s game was a real nail-biter as the teams traded even blows throughout the 48-minute period. In fact, the two teams alternated in out-scoring each other for each quarter, and they both layed down a hefty 29 points in the last, which sounds like an NBA stat.

The Stingers showed incredible team depth, as five of the seven bench players dropped an accumulative 28 points. This included new recruit Gabriel Bourdages, who recorded five rebounds, a steal, a block, and seven points within nine minutes of his debut. “I thought he showed some really good minutes in the first half,” said head coach Rastko Popović after the game. “He’s gonna get better as we get to practise.”

On the other hand, while the McGill Redbirds didn’t display much  depth, they had a great sixth man, power forward Joshua Soifer. The 4-man recorded 12 points, two assists, two rebounds and a steal in 15 minutes of playing time.

Amongst the players on the Concordia team, the guards shined the brightest. Alec Phaneuf and Sami Jahan together stole the show combining for 36 points, seven assists, eight rebounds and making all of their 11 free throws. “I thought [Phaneuf] was doing a great job in the third quarter when he built the nine-point lead,” said coach Popović.“Then we had one possession where we didn’t execute and then our point guards really made a lot of huge plays down the stretch.” 

Junior Mercy came off the bench and had a few highlight plays in the first half, including a nasty steal for a coast-to-coast and one layup, as well as a huge block and assist play to Bourdages.

Yet another third-quarter highlight occurred when centre Bradley Louidon pulled a reverse slam dunk on the towering opposing star centre Saransh Padhy, and caused an eruption from the crowd, as well as heated arguments from both benches. Despite many fouls and a missed call on a McGill flop, the Stingers pulled an 89-86 win for their first game of 2024. 

“I think our defence has to be more consistent,” Popović said. “That’s way too many points we gave up today, so you know we’ve got to clean up our defence and a little bit better execution offensively and I think we should be okay. It’s gonna be a hard game on the road, so we’ve got to get ready.”

The Stingers then beat the Redbirds 71-61 on Saturday. Concordia currently sits in second place in the RSEQ with a 6-2 record, just under UQÀM. 

Hockey Sports

Stingers’ associate head coach Caroline Ouellette inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame

The four-time Olympic gold medalist became the 10th woman to get the call from the Hall.

On Nov. 13, the annual Hockey Hall of Fame induction ceremony was held. In the Hall are about 300 legendary players and 115 builders who helped grow the game of hockey. During the 2023 meeting of the Hall of Fame Selection Committee on June 21, Caroline Ouellette’s nomination was a no-brainer despite it being only her second year on the ballot.

The road to this point for Ouellette was never an easy one. The player shared in her acceptance speech that when she was growing up, it took her two years to convince her parents to allow her to play hockey. Once she was able to convince her mom to help her buy her first pair of skates at the age of nine, Ouellette played on different all-boys teams until she was 17.

“I heard about every possible type of name-calling,” Ouellette shared during the speech. “These challenges helped me develop a deeper appreciation of how lucky I was to play hockey when so many women around my age couldn’t have the same opportunity,” she said. 

Ouellette got her first taste of professional hockey in 1995 when she joined Team Quebec during the Canada Winter Games. She won her first gold medal in 1997, playing for Team Quebec at the National Women’s Under-18 Championship.

After putting up a whopping 60 points in 27 games in the 1998-99 season for the Montreal Wingstar of the National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL), Ouellette played in her first of 12 International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) World Championships. She would go on to win six gold medals and six silver medals in World Championships, ranking eighth all-time with 68 points in 59 games played.

In 2000, Concordia University got introduced to the hockey phenom. In her short time playing for the Stingers, Ouellette put up 19 points in just seven games. Oullette moved on to play three seasons for University of Minnesota-Duluth, where she also became the team’s captain for two seasons. Luckily for the Stingers, Ouellette would be back with the team in the future.

Ouellette played in the Winter Olympic Games four times between 2002 and 2014. She became the only ice hockey player to this date to win gold in all four Olympics she took part in. Ouellette put up 26 points in 20 career Olympic games played, cementing her legacy as one of the best international ice hockey players the sport has ever seen.

Having played in her last World Championship in 2015, Oullette played three more years of professional hockey for Les Canadiennes de Montréal in the city where it all began. She rejoined the Stingers as an assistant coach in 2016.

Coaching stints with the University of Minnesota-Duluth, International Canadian teams, and the Concordia Stingers have made up her ongoing career. She is currently the associate coach for the Stingers alongside partner and head coach Julie Chu, and the two have led the team to back-to-back national championship final appearances, including a gold-win in 2022.

Hockey Sports

Introducing the new professional women’s hockey league

The PWHL strives to bring more attention to women’s hockey and the talent its players offer.

On Aug. 29, 2023, it was announced that there would be a brand new ice hockey league in the works for a start date in 2024. The newly-launched league would be known as The Professional Women’s Hockey League (PWHL), which will include three teams in Canada and another three in the United States.

Why is this league a big deal? It all goes back to 2019 when the Canadian Women’s Hockey League (CWHL) had to cease operations due to economic hardship. Following this situation, the Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association (PWHPA) was created. The union consisted of dozens of female ice hockey players who worked to ensure adequate funding, health insurance, and resources to the women players of different hockey leagues.

Though the CWHL shut down in 2019, the National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL) was still active and had offered to add the players affected by the shutdown. However, the former CWHL players declined the offer, refusing to play in a North American league again until sufficient resources and funding was presented to the players.

This year, the NWHL—now named the Premier Hockey Federation—made an announcement that they would be selling the league to a new owner. This new owner would be the founder of the new PWHL. The members of the PWHPA have finally established a league that would have the resources and financial structure to support the athletes who had been fighting for change for several years.

The PWHL owners established a collective bargaining agreement that will be effective through 2031 by working closely with the PWHL and partnering with the Billie Jean King group. This is great news for the future of women’s hockey. Not only does the collective bargaining agreement include a minimum salary that the members of the PWHPA are satisfied with, but it also ensures that the league will be around for several years—allowing it to grow instead of fearing another league shutdown.

The National Hockey League (NHL) also released a statement following the announcement of the PWHL that they look forward to helping grow the sport and supporting the new league. Past collaborations of the NHL with women’s hockey leagues, like their All-Star Game, have already brought positive attention to women’s hockey. 

The future is bright not only for the players of the PWHL, but for the fans as well. As we know so far, there will be six franchise locations: in Boston, New York, Minneapolis, Ottawa, Toronto, and Montreal. 

Montreal hockey fans already have a reason to be excited. Star players Laura Stacey, Ann-Renée Desbiens, and even Marie-Philip Poulin—known to many as the best women’s hockey player of all time—have agreed to contracts with Montreal’s new team.

Fans tuned in to watch the inaugural PWHL draft which took place on Sept.18. Franchises until this point have been able to sign up to three free agent players to contracts. During the draft, the six teams were able to fill out the remaining spots on their rosters. The draft player-pool includes some impeccable talent, including dozens of Olympic medalists as well as rookie players. With 268 athletes from around the world eligible to be drafted, it surely is a sight to see for hockey fans.

With this being the first time that the best women’s hockey players will be playing against each other in a league, the start of the PWHL is certainly one to be excited for. Once the teams are set following the draft, training camp will open shortly after. Fans should keep an eye open for information on purchasing tickets, as the league is yet to announce dates, times, and venues for its games. Before we know it, the calendar will flip to 2024, and the first PWHL season will be ready to launch. Whether you are a player or fan, it is undoubtedly an exciting time for women’s hockey. 


The Concordia Stingers come out on top of the Montreal Carabins 2-1

Goaltender Alice Philbert shines for the Stingers this weekend as the women’s hockey team improves to 7-2

Though forward Emmy Fecteau scored the overtime winner for the Concordia Stingers, goaltending was the highlight story on both sides in the Stingers’ win over the University of Montreal Carabins on Friday, Nov. 18 at the Ed Meagher Arena.

“Montreal has a great goaltender. We have a great goaltender. There isn’t a team in this league that doesn’t have a good goaltender,” affirmed Stingers’ head coach Julie Chu after the win. “We have to get traffic to the net. That’s how we’re going to be able to beat them.”

The Stingers started the game slowly, getting outshot 13-7 in the opening frame, largely due to taking three penalties. They rebounded after that however, and outshot the Carabins 27-16 the rest of the way.

Stingers’ forward Émilie Lavoie and Carabins’ forward Raphaëlle Pouliot traded power-play goals in the first period, and the game was tied 1-1 after 20 minutes. Stingers’ goaltender Alice Philbert kept the game tied for her team in the first period, making 12 saves.

Both teams’ goaltenders stole the show after that, as Philbert and Carabins goaltender Aube Racine shut the door for the following 40 minutes, making 14 and 26 saves respectively.

But Philbert was not intimidated by her counterpart’s performance.

“In our league, there are some really good goalies. It’s like this in every game,” she explained. “For me, it’s just a motivation to push even harder, and be ready for the next shot every time.”

Fecteau finally broke the deadlock with 15 seconds remaining in the first overtime period. She rushed down the right wing and snapped a shot over Racine’s right shoulder, earning the Stingers’ a 2-1 victory.

“There were several moments where it was going well for our team,” Fecteau said. “We were putting on good pressure. I think the goal was coming.”

The Stingers made a point of getting in the Carabins’ shooting lanes and blocking shots in this game. Chu was impressed with her team’s courage in that respect.

“I emphasize it a lot because I’m a big believer in it,” Chu explained. “We’ve worked on it in practice, they’ve embodied it and they want to do it, which are huge momentum moments for us.”

Philbert also thought her team’s effort was a big factor in the win.

“They worked really hard,” she said. “The first period was not the best, but we bounced back in the second and third.”

Chu thinks that the Stingers need to figure out how to play a physical game without taking too many penalties.

“The last two, three games we took a lot of penalties and we’ve got to find that balance,” she noted. “We want to play aggressive, we want to play physical, but we don’t want to stay in the box all day.”

The Stingers improved to a 6-2 record with this win over the Carabins. They defeated the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees 2-0 on Sunday, Nov. 20 to improve to 7-2. The Stingers now sit in first-place in the Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec standings.


The Concordia Stingers defeat the Ottawa Gee-Gees 3-2 in a thrilling game

The women’s hockey team’s resilience and capitalization in overtime play get them the win

Last Friday, the Stingers’ women’s hockey team delivered a great performance against the Ottawa Gee-Gees in a rousing game that left fans on the edge of their seats at the Ed Meagher Arena.

The first period was full of back and forth between the Stingers and the Gee-Gees to get the first goal of the game. After around 16 minutes of play, Stingers’ forward Jessymaude Drapeau breached the barrier of Gee-Gees’ goaltender Aurélie Dubuc to bring the score to 1-0.

“It was a big team effort, but a huge goal in the first period to start the game,” said Drapeau.

The game slowed down for both teams in the second period. Eventually, the Stingers were able to take seven successful shots. The Gee-Gees, however, couldn’t get hold of the puck enough to tie the game.

But within the first half of the third period, the Gee-Gees hit their stride. Ottawa forward Katherine Birkby finally tied the game and Abygail Moloughney, another forward, gave the Gee-Gees the lead when she intercepted a pass from Stingers’ goaltender Alice Philbert who was away from her net.

“I know it was a big mistake, but at the same time we have to learn from our mistakes and the team really stepped up for me so I’m happy with that,” said Philbert, doubling down on how she always feels the support from her team.

Indeed, the Stingers quickly repressed the Gee-Gees and a few seconds after Moloughney’s goal, Stingers’ forward Megan Bureau-Gagnon slid the puck past Dubuc to bring the game to another tie, leading to overtime.

No goals were scored during the first period of overtime, but the second kept fans on their feet. The winning goal was thought to be scored by Drapeau but the referees called it back due to goaltender interference by Stingers’ forward Emmy Fecteau.

“For sure, it’s rough,” said Stingers’ forward Émilie Lavoie, who had two assists in the game until that point. “You think the game is over, and all of a sudden everyone has to go back. But we have a team that’s competitive all the way around, it’s just reset and go back.”

During the second period of overtime, in a last-ditch effort while caught between two Gee-Gees players, Lavoie scored the game-winning goal for the Stingers. She was named the game’s first star for her stunning performance.

“It feels good, but, at the end of the day, it’s a team effort,” said Lavoie. “Everyone put the effort in, I took the puck at the end, but we kept the puck the whole time during 3-on-3.”

“I think that game was everything beyond our expectations,” said Stingers’ head coach Julie Chu. “I think we had some tremendous moments and we also had some moments where Ottawa put us on our heels and we had to play a more defensive game.”

Chu also spoke about Philbert’s performance and noted her ability to bounce back from her errors. She emphasized how crucial Philbert was for the win and how she loved to see her players’ response to moments of adversity.

The Stingers women’s hockey team will be back at the Ed Meagher Arena to play against the McGill Martlets on Nov. 11 at 7:30 p.m.


Concordia Stingers women’s hockey banner raising and home opener

Stingers’ forward Émilie Lavoie and other returning champions waiting to get called on the ice to join the graduating students, new students, and coaching staff for the U Sports championship banner reveal.

The 2021-22 Concordia Stingers’ women’s hockey team looking up at the hidden banners in anticipation of the big reveal at the Ed Meagher Arena on Oct. 30, 2022.

“I didn’t expect I’d get a little emotional because we really got to celebrate last year… but it was really special,” said Stingers’ head coach Julie Chu. “I think it was a really proud moment also to see the faces of our players.”

The 2022 U Sports women’s hockey champions (right) and this season’s rookies (left) in front of the championship banner at the banner-raising ceremony before the home opener.

“It’s a lot of emotions for sure,” Stingers’ goaltender Alice Philbert said. “But we knew we had a game to play after so we enjoyed the moment but after that we had to reset… But it was fun to have players from last year coming back to experience this and for sure tears in our eyes, a little emotional.”

“We have a title to defend and I think that’s what we’re going to do this year.”

The class of 2022 added to the conference and national championship banners, and a new 2022 champions’ banner.

Stingers’ defender Sandrine Veillette celebrating with her teammates after scoring and earning a 2-1 lead early in the second period vs. the Bishop’s Gaiters.

The crowd of 290 people cheering on the Stingers in their home opener vs. the Bishop’s Gaiters.

The Stingers celebrating forward Emmy Fecteau’s game-winning goal.

The Stingers and Gaiters lining up to shake hands after the 3-2 Stingers’ victory.


How to grow women’s hockey

Increasing visibility and investment and paying a living wage could be the key

Brooke Boquist, a forward for the Toronto Six in the Premier Hockey Federation (PHF), works in real estate by day and plays hockey by night and during the weekends. She said her lifestyle can be tough.

“If you’re working and making these trips every weekend or every couple of weeks, it’s pretty busy. So it’s definitely not easy, but we find a way to make it work,” she added.

Before signing with the Six last season, Boquist played two seasons in the Swedish Women’s Hockey League (SDHL), where she didn’t need a second job and was able to completely focus on her game.

“But now here, I can’t just play hockey and not work,” said the 25-year-old forward. “It’s just that you don’t make enough money to do that. And living-wise, I live in downtown Toronto. It’s like a whole different story, right?” she said and laughed. Despite city living costs, she’s happy to have found an interest outside of hockey that she can pursue at the same time.

Boquist said her team has practice on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and plays games on the weekends. Each PHF team is projected to play 20 games this season, whereas in Sweden her team used to practice every day and play almost every weekend.

Being a professional female hockey player in North America isn’t easy. As opposed to professional male hockey players, female players can’t only focus on their passion, and train, play, and breathe hockey, as that simply doesn’t earn them a living wage. 

The PHF along with the Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association (PWHPA) are the two professional leagues for women’s hockey in North America. The PHF is comprised of six teams, and the PWHPA of five. That’s a total of 11 professional women’s hockey teams compared to 108 professional men’s teams in five different leagues across North America, including the National Hockey League (NHL).

Many female players, current and former, want women’s hockey to grow to allow these athletes to make a living wage by playing hockey, just like male players.

Julie Chu, head coach of the Concordia Stingers’ women’s hockey team and four-time U.S. Olympic medalist in hockey, said that in order for women’s hockey to get there, the investment has to come first.

While this would allow players to earn a living wage, it would also let them train full-time and “put a product on the ice that is going to be really strong and be top quality,” Chu said.

However, she added that it’s really difficult for players to be able to get to that stage, even if they want to, since they need to have a full-time job, as is the case with Boquist and her teammates.

“There are some amazing athletes still playing in the PHF and the PWHPA, and they’re able to do this,” Chu said. “But just imagine if those athletes have the ability just to be professional athletes and the time and investment that they can put into being a great hockey player, resting, recovering, getting stronger, […] all those resources. That just increases the product itself. So, we need that investment to make the product better.”

Chu played in what used to be the Canadian Women’s Hockey League (CWHL) with the Montreal Canadiennes (who were formerly known as the Montreal Stars). Being in different situations, Chu said it has really made a difference in understanding that “we can only be as good as we can be, with the resources we have.”

She also strongly believes that increasing visibility would be a big step in making hockey more accessible to women.

“I’m a big believer that, if we’re able to see it, if things are visible, then we have the opportunity to think about wanting to do it,” Chu said.

She said that promoting current athletes at the elite level for the female game is really important. Chu described adding women’s international hockey in the video game NHL 22 as a “huge milestone” for the visibility of women in the sport. There are several ways better representation has been achieved, such as having female player cards in Tim Hortons’ new hockey cards collection.

“I think we do have to make a more conscious effort to make sure that in our local organizations, we’re giving value to each of them equally, versus having the women just be an afterthought,” Chu said. For example, women might not be included within boards of local hockey organizations, or they might not be given the best ice time because they are an afterthought, so a good solution for shared facilities between men’s and women’s teams would be to alternate good ice time – which usually refers to daytime access to facilities – according to Chu. 

She added that we need to make sure that women are part of conversations or part of the solutions if organizations are looking at things that concern both female and male teams.

Another way to increase visibility would be to expand the PHF. The league announced on Jan. 18 that the plan is to expand to Montreal next season.

“I think the main goal for women’s hockey is to get the exposure out there right now and to, eventually, at some point in time, have the girls make a living wage,” Boquist said. “That’s the sole focus. And I think that expanding the league to get more exposure is everything in the right direction.” Currently, the average salary for PHF players is $15,000 per season with a team salary cap of $300,000. With the cap increasing to $750,000 next season, the average salary should reach $37,500.

“It would be awesome to expand into Montreal […] and across Canada,” Boquist said. 

“Obviously we should focus on one thing at a time, but it would be nice to have another team in Canada.” The other three professional female teams in Canada are part of the PWHPA: Team Sonnet of the Toronto Region, Team Harvey’s of the Montreal Region, and Team Scotiabank of the Calgary Region.

However, Chu added that more needed to be done prior to taking that step. She said there’s currently a disconnect in the women’s hockey world since the PWHPA and PHF are separate entities, and that the two should find a way to merge or dissolve separately to then come together in a new league in order to have everyone working together in one entity.

The most ideal situation for her would be for the PHF and PWHPA to merge and launch right after the Winter Olympics. She said using the momentum and visibility of the worldwide event would make the transition a bit easier.

Boquist believes the PHF’s expansion will provide women in Montreal an opportunity to be part of the league without having to relocate. She also thinks the league will benefit from a potential rivalry with Toronto.

Along with an expansion to Montreal, the PHF announced a possibility to add new American teams to the Federation. For the moment, the PHF’s Board of Governors will invest $25 million to the players over the next three years, starting with $7.5 million next season. The plan isn’t only to improve the players’ salaries, but also healthcare benefits, as well as to update facilities, buy new equipment, and increase ice time in terms of both practices and games. The plan is to expand the schedule to 28 games.

“This is amazing news for the league and for women’s hockey,” Boquist said. “Such a great step in the right direction, not only with raising the salary cap but also the expansion (…) particularly to another Canadian team in Montreal.”

At the end of the day, the ultimate goal for Chu, Boquist, and for women’s hockey in general, is to be able to pay players a living wage.

“I believe in everything the PHF is doing right now,” Boquist said. “We’re getting there, we’re making the right steps and doing what we can so one day, I don’t know how long it will take, but one day, hopefully, the girls will be able to just focus on hockey.”


Photograph by Catherine Reynolds


Stingers upset in home opener versus Ottawa

Concordia women’s hockey team lost in nail-biting fashion at the hands of the Ottawa Gee-Gees

The Concordia Stingers women’s hockey team lost their home opener 2-1 in double overtime against the Ottawa Gee-Gees Friday evening at the Ed Meagher Arena. Though the Stingers made the Gee-Gees play on their heels, the main takeaway from the game was Concordia’s inability to capitalize on their many advantages. 

“We have to make it difficult on goaltenders and have a better net front presence, and ultimately we’ve got to bear down and score more than one goal,” said Julie Chu, Stingers head coach.

Whether it was an odd-man rush or a power play, the Stingers weren’t capable of capitalizing on chances, especially against Gee-Gees goaltender Aurélie Dubuc who stood on her head stopping 35 out of the 36 shots. Though scoring was a problem, breakouts plagued the Stingers offence in some instances, in-zone turnovers created scoring chances for the Gee-Gees. 

“The first period I don’t think we were reading [the breakout] well, the third period same thing. The passes were there, we just weren’t seeing it quick enough,” Chu said.

Regardless of the breakout, both teams were evenly matched and scored in similar fashion. The Stingers broke the ice early in the second period, scoring off an intercepted pass in the neutral zone. Defencewoman Brigitte Laganière intercepted the puck and passed it to Stingers captain Audrey Belzile, resulting in a two-on-one pass to Stéphanie Lalancette who tucked it in to put the Stingers up one.

Later on, Belzile drew a penalty for the Stingers while on the penalty kill. Now 4 on 4, a similar cough up in the neutral zone resulted in a sudden turnover by the Stingers. The Gee-Gees took full advantage of the error, zooming past the defence and scoring off a beautiful shot that slowly trickled behind Stingers goaltender Alice Philbert, tying the game 1-1.

Throughout the game, both teams were evenly matched creating a combined total of nine penalties shared between both teams. Especially near the end, as emotions ran high, things got chippy near the goalies in between whistles.

In the opening overtime period, the Stingers created many chances, including an empty-net that they couldn’t capitalize on. On the defensive end, Concordia was tightly positioned and blocked necessary shots to keep the Ottawa team from scoring in the first overtime sequence.

The final minute of the second overtime period was where the Stingers made a breakout error in their own zone, resulting in a sudden turnover right in front of Philbert. Gee-Gee’s forward Ariane Aubin exuded patience as she slowly went forehand to backhand, slipping the puck behind the net gave Ottawa their first win of the season.

“This is the first game out of 25, there’s still the whole season and we still got a point today,” Belzile said. “We’ve got to build from the positive things, so we don’t go down as a team.”

Belzile and the rest of the Stingers are still hungry for their first win as they face off against McGill on Sunday.


Photograph by Aashka Patel

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