Gone in a Flash
McGill Redmen Put a Swift End to the Stingers’ Season
It took 26 games for the Concordia Stingers men’s hockey team to clinch the sixth spot in the Ontario University Athletics East Division and their first playoff appearance since the 2010-2011 season.
It took only two games for that appearance to end.
Facing the Canadian Interuniversity Sport no. 6-ranked McGill Redmen in the opening round of the playoffs last week, the Stingers were eliminated after losing 3-1 on Wednesday and 8-4 on Friday in a best-of-three series.
“It’s disappointing that our season is now over,” said Stingers head coach Kevin Figsby.
“But I can tell you I thought our kids have competed hard and represented our university very well.”
The first game on Wednesday night at McGill’s McConnell Arena was a tight seesaw battle. The game was scoreless after the first period, but McGill took the lead just over six minutes into the second.
Less than a minute later, however, Stingers sophomore centreman Olivier Hinse tied the game up at one-apiece as he batted the puck in mid air off a shot by teammate George Lovatsis for the power-play goal.
“After [Lovatsis] took the initial shot I saw the puck rise in the air,” said Hinse.
“And then I did like when I was younger and played baseball, and gave it a good solid swing and it went in.”
Late in the period, Redmen forward David Rose potted his second of the game on a big rebound, getting the puck past Stingers goaltender Antonio Mastropietro, before centreman Marc-Olivier Vachon gave McGill the much-needed insurance just over a minute later.
Friday night’s game at the Ed Meagher Arena was as tight throughout the first two periods as the first one.
McGill opened the scoring, but backed by an electric crowd and a packed house, mostly there to cheer on the Maroon and Gold, Concordia answered with two back-to-back goals to put them ahead.
First, defenceman Gabriel Bourret finished off a swift passing play by the Stingers with a wrist shot that eluded Redmen goaltender Jacob Gervais-Chouinard on the power play.
Then, five minutes later, Stingers Dany Potvin and Hinse broke out shorthanded with a give-and-go passing play finished off by Hinse to make it 2-1 at the 16:34 mark.
“I can tell you I’m very proud of each and every one of our guys,” said Figsby.
“I’m proud of the way they competed, it may have gotten a bit frustrating at times, but they hung in there and really battled hard.”
However, the wheels started to come off as McGill scored three straight goals in just over two minutes to make it 4-2 McGill at the end of the first period.
But once again the Stingers answered, getting two quick goals by alternate captain Kyle Armstrong and Lovatsis respectively to tie the game up at 4-4 just over three minutes into the second period.
“It was nice to get the goal and to tie the game up,” said Lovatsis.
“Unfortunately it didn’t last very long, but what can you do. I’m still very proud of our team and how well we did. Nobody expected us to get this far.”
The roof came off the building after Lovatsis’s goal, as the Stingers were back into the game with 37 minutes left.
The feeling was short-lived however, as just 26 seconds later, Redmen forward Neal Prokop scored his second goal of the game after finding an open spot in the slot right in front of Mastropietro.
By the end of the second, it was 6-4 McGill, and the shots were a commanding 32-15 for the visitors.
A lack of discipline hindered the Stingers, whistled down for a total of 12 minor penalties in the game compared to the Redmen’s nine.
It proved to be the difference, as McGill forward Cedric McNicoll would go on to score two power-play goals in the final frame to end any hope of a Concordia comeback.
The final horn sounded and with the Stingers’ season over, a sentimental moment happened by the Concordia side—each team member took a moment to hug and say their goodbyes to their leader, Lovatsis.
Friday’s game was the 24-year-old captain’s last in a Stingers uniform, something that took a very emotional toll on him both during and after the game.
“I have no one else to thank but all the great teams I’ve been a part of,” said Lovatsis.
“Kevin gave me all the opportunities in the world; he’s been amazing to me and I really appreciate all the things he’s done for me.”
Lovatsis was the last one to leave the ice and the last to leave the dressing room following the elimination, taking in all the memories from Concordia.
“At this point all I can do is look back and reflect on all the great memories I’ve had,” said Lovatsis following Friday’s game.
“Honestly, the last five years have been amazing for me, and an incredible experience. I think I’ve matured a lot as a person for being here.
Everybody here at Concordia has been great to me, and I’m in debt with them forever.”
Coach Kevin Figsby said that the game that evening was for Lovatsis, regardless of the outcome.
“Tonight was a night for George Lovatsis,” said Figsby.
“He’s a fifth-year guy, and he’s been a team leader. I can’t tell you how proud I am of Georgie tonight. What he’s brought to our program the last five years, he can’t be replaced.”
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