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Stingers Struggle in 46th Annual Theresa Humes Tournament
Playing competitive hockey at the top of your game isn’t always an easy task coming off a month-long hiatus, let alone coming back to play three games in three days.
For some more than others, it’s difficult to get back into the groove.
That was the case for Concordia’s women’s hockey team, who took to the ice over the weekend for the first time since Nov. 30 as they hosted the 46th annual Theresa Humes Tournament at Ed Meagher Arena.
The team finished a disappointing 1-2 on the weekend, losing a tight 3-2 game to the York Lions on Friday before edging St. Thomas University 3-2 the following day and finally losing 5-0 to the nationally fourth-ranked Queen’s University on Sunday.
“When you’re off for six weeks everybody is in the same boat; it just looked like we may have not been ready in the nets,” said Stingers head coach Les Lawton.
Three of the five other teams participating finished 1-2, but only the Stingers finished with a minus-5 point differential overall, worst in the tournament.
Despite his team’s struggles, Lawton nonetheless took away some positives from the exhibition games.
“Our team play was really great and didn’t fold the tent all weekend. I’m happy with where we are.”
His players felt similarly.
“Playing in my second [Theresa Humes Tournament], it’s really special, and for a great cause,” said sophomore Stingers goaltender Carolanne Lavoie-Pilon, who started the team’s first and third game in this year’s tournament. “It’s definitely a challenge to play against teams we only saw once [in September], but it feels good because it shows how we’ve evolved since the beginning of the year.”
The Stingers showed some signs of rust in their first game of the tournament, falling behind 2-0 in the second period to the Lions—a team they had beaten 5-3 in an exhibition game earlier this season.
But Concordia found its groove soon thereafter, with blueliner Gabrielle Meilleur squeaking the puck past Lions goaltender Megan Lee with just over three minutes left in the period.
Less than a minute later, rookie defender Emily Even sent a long stretch pass to veteran Jaymee Shell, who went upstairs on the backhand to even the game at two-apiece.
“It felt really good; it’s definitely something I’ve been practicing a lot with our skills coach [Nathaniel Marx],” said Shell of the highlight-reel goal.
“That was payback for being off all of December. It’s the longest I’ve been off the ice for six months; that was definitely a confidence booster.”
The two sides fought back-and-forth in a more balanced third period, but the scale eventually tipped in York’s favour when the Lions’ Sarai Whitty found Lavoie-Pilon out of position for the game-winning score.
The Stingers were more fortunate in Saturday’s game. Facing off against St. Thomas, who they had lost to at the Lethbridge Tournament in preseason, the Maroon and Gold scored seven minutes into the contest when a Tommies defender was stripped in her own zone by third-year winger Audrey Morand, who shot the puck past goaltender Kristin Wolfe for the game’s opening score.
Just over six minutes later, after another Tommies defensive turnover, veteran Alyssa Sherrard took a feed from teammate Tracy-Ann Lavigne and sniped a shot top shelf to extend the Stingers lead to two.
St. Thomas finally got on the scoreboard with a power play goal midway through the second period, but the Stingers put the game out of reach late in the third when rookie winger Kerianne Schofield tipped a shot through Wolfe’s feet to make it 3-1.
The final score read 3-2, but it didn’t tell the whole story: the Stingers out-shot the Tommies 34-8 on the day.
“I’m disappointed that I didn’t score with all those chances our line had,” said Lavigne. “But I know it will come because we are just missing the goals. Other than that we (line of Marie-Pier Cloutier, Erica Porter and Lavigne) played an awesome game together.”
“We really played a full 60-minute game tonight,” added rookie defender Caroll-Anne Gagné. “Everybody really worked hard tonight, and it was a fun game.
As defence we had lots of confidence, and not letting them the chances helped.”
But whatever confidence the Stingers built on Saturday was of little help in Sunday’s finale.
Queen’s dominated the game from the start, scoring three times on seven shots in the span of 4:48.
Lawton had seen enough at that point, pulling Lavoie-Pilon and replacing her with third-stringer Frédérike Berger-Lebel, who’s last start was in September.
“I’m not going to lie, I’ve been waiting for a little while [to play],” said Berger-Lebel. “I was ready, had a good warm-up, but I was stressed having not played a game in four months. Down 3-0 already was tough to come in, but I did my best.”
The Stingers fought valiantly the rest of the game, but it wasn’t enough as Queen’s went on to score two more goals to win the game 5-0, and finish first in the tournament with a perfect 3-0 record.
The rough loss hit particularly hard for captain Erin Lally and alternate captain Mary-Jane Roper, both of whom have played their last Humes Tournament as their eligibility runs out at the end of the season.
“I personally am really trying not to think about it at all,” said Lally. “Any great thing coming to an end is really sad. I’m not going to let that bring me down.”
“For the longest break and quickest transition it still felt good to be back on the ice,” said Roper. “If we didn’t have so many turnovers it could’ve been a different outcome.”
The Stingers, currently sitting in fourth place in the five-team Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec Conference, next take the ice Jan. 12 against the Montréal Carabins at Ed Meagher Arena for their first regular season game of the year. Puck-drop is at 3:30 p.m.
“When you’re off for six weeks everybody is in the same boat; it just looked like we may not have been ready in the net.”
—Les Lawton, Stingers Head Coach
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