Weekend wins keep Stingers men’s hockey team in playoff hunt
Consistent inconsistency has been the Stingers men’s hockey team theme thus far in the new year.
For a team that had been consistently losing to start the season, that’s a step in the right direction.
Entering the winter break, the Stingers were barely clinging to the eighth and final playoff spot with a 4-8-3 record.
Following this past weekend’s wins, they now sit comfortably in sixth place with an 8-10-3 record.
Hitting the road for this past weekend’s games, the Stingers first travelled to North Bay, Ont. to take on the Nipissing Lakers on Friday night.
The Stingers scored in the first minute of the game when Dany Potvin solved Laker goaltender Kirk Rafuse 49 seconds in. The Lakers, were relentless, however, scoring two goals before the end of the first period when forwards Matt Paton and Craig Campbell both found the back of the net to make it 2-1.
The Stingers, meanwhile, were resilient, with winger Ben Dubois tying the game with just under five minutes left in regulation.
After overtime proved fruitless the teams went to a shootout, which the Stingers took by a 2-1 margin as rookie Hugo Vincent and captain George Lovatsis both got shots past the Lakers goalie.
“From the start of the second period and through the game our momentum kept building, and we saw that they could not match our speed,” said Stingers head coach Kevin Figsby. “They were trying to play a short bench and we were rolling four lines and six defence, and they couldn’t match our intensity.”
Saturday evening started off on the wrong skate for Concordia as Laurentian Voyageurs forward Dylan Fitze beat Antonio Mastropietro just six seconds into the contest.
It didn’t faze the Stingers, however.
Late in the first period, while on the powerplay, sophomore and standout Olivier Hinse scored his team-leading 16th goal of the season to tie the game at 1-1.
“We’re very happy from our weekend’s performances,” said Hinse. “Everybody has been working really hard and everybody is contributing. [Personally] I had a very good weekend and it’s great confidence [to have] heading into the playoffs.”
In the second period, the Stingers and Voyageurs battled a closer game up until the 8:34 mark when Vincent found the back of the net, giving Concordia a 2-1 lead.
After Laurentian tied the game at two-apiece, Vincent and his linemates, Nicholas Samoluk and Francis Beauregard, were at it again. This time, Samoluk scored past Voyageurs goaltender Alain Valiquette for his first-career CIS goal to make it 3-2 in the second period.
The third period was one won by Laurentian in the shot department, but when it came to goals, Concordia amped up the pressure by scoring three additional goals.
Veteran defender Sean Blunden rounded out the scoring, getting his team’s sixth and final goal of the evening with just under three minutes to go.
The Stingers’ goaltending wasn’t an issue as Mastropietro was solid, turning aside 31 saves and helping give his team a four-point cushion over seventh-place University of Ontario Institute of Technology.
“[Mastropietro] made every key save as all critical points in the game and allowed us to build our momentum,” Figsby said.
Next up for the Stingers is a Wednesday evening match-up against the red-hot Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières Patriotes, currently riding an 11-game winning streak and in second place in the Ontario University Athletics East Division. Puck-drop is at 7 p.m. at Ed Meagher Arena.
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