An Uphill Battle Ends In Heartbreak

Stingers Can’t Beat Top-Seeded Rival McGill, Eliminated From Playoffs

  • The Concordia Stingers men’s hockey team were eliminated by their bitter rivals, the McGill Redmen, in the first round of the Ontario University Athletics playoffs. The Stingers searched for their first playoff series win since 2001. Photo Matt Garies

  • The Concordia Stingers men’s hockey team were eliminated by their bitter rivals, the McGill Redmen, in the first round of the Ontario University Athletics playoffs. The Stingers searched for their first playoff series win since 2001. Photo Matt Garies

  • The Concordia Stingers men’s hockey team were eliminated by their bitter rivals, the McGill Redmen, in the first round of the Ontario University Athletics playoffs. The Stingers searched for their first playoff series win since 2001. Photo Matt Garies

  • The Concordia Stingers men’s hockey team were eliminated by their bitter rivals, the McGill Redmen, in the first round of the Ontario University Athletics playoffs. The Stingers searched for their first playoff series win since 2001. Photo Matt Garies

The Concordia Stingers men’s hockey team were eliminated by their bitter rivals, the McGill Redmen, in the first round of the Ontario University Athletics playoffs. The Stingers searched for their first playoff series win since 2001.

Concordia pulled off a series-opening win over McGill at McConnell Arena last Wednesday night 6-4, but after a masterful performance by McGill in Game 2, the Stingers couldn’t obtain the series-clinching win, losing 6-3 at McGill on Feb. 15.

Stingers head coach Kevin Figsby remarked on how difficult it was for Concordia to knock off the top seeded team in the OUA conference.

“Having a very young team and finishing eighth and then playing number one ranked McGill, it’s not easy,” he said. “Beating them in the first game of the series really scared them and gave our guys the confidence—we just couldn’t hold on.

“Our game plan was to get the pucks in deep and out-skate and out-shoot them,” he added. “It’s a solid game plan but always difficult when you face a team like McGill.”

Concordia began the third game with the lead, when forward Ben Dubois scored past Redmen goalie Jacob Gervais-Chouinard 99 seconds into the game. The lead didn’t last long, however, as McGill’s Cedric McNicoll tied the game a little over two minutes later.

The Redmen got another goal by forward Mathieu Pompei before the end of the period, taking a 2-1 lead after one period of play.

McGill got off to a strong start in the second period, as forward David Rose scored his team’s third goal of the game, forcing the Stingers to switch goalie Robin Billingham in favour of backup Alexandre St-Arnaud.

Despite the switch, St-Arnaud allowed McGill’s fourth goal of the game from Pietro Antonelli with under six minutes to play in the second period.

With the score 4-1 late in the second, Concordia forward Philippe Hudon capped off a nice passing play cutting the deficit to two before the end of 40, but it seemed like the mountain was just too high to climb.

Two goals from McGill’s Max Le Sieur overshadowed Concordia’s lone marker from Dany Potvin in the third period. More importantly, it sealed the deal for the Redmen, who will face the Queen’s Golden Gaels in the next round of the OUA Playoffs.

The Game three loss also marked the end of the university careers of Stingers forward Roberto Mormina, who watched the game from the rafters, and defenceman Sean Blunden, who was on the ice in the loss.

“It’s gone fast, it’s been great, but I’ve made a lot of great friends and teammates,” Blunden said about the end of his run with the Stingers. “It has been a great experience all in all. I can’t thank them and Kevin enough for all the memories. These are people I will talk to for the rest of my life.”

Blunden has had quite a career with the Stingers, but injuries have plagued him, including a shoulder injury last season and an injured elbow suffered this season. The defenceman was among the many walking wounded for Concordia this season and Figsby feels Concordia could’ve fared better had they escaped injuries.

“We had a stretch where during 12 games we had to dress three forwards as defence and we didn’t fare well in those games,” said Figsby. “I think those games cost us in the standings. I legitimately thought we would’ve done better this season had that not happened.”

“The injuries are all a part of the game and really out of your control,” said Blunden. “You try not to, but sometimes it just happens. [The key is] trying to stay positive and move on and get healthy.”

Despite missing out on a chance to beat McGill in the playoffs for the first time since 2001, Figsby was proud of how his team performed. Meanwhile his players also kept their heads held high, looking ahead to next season.

“They put everything on the line tonight and gave it their all. There was no quit in any of them,” Figsby said.

“What a great ride in the playoffs; wish we could’ve gone further,” said Hinse. “This season also had lots of ups and downs, but we always stuck together. [The team is] a great bunch of guys, I’m really so proud of being a captain of that team. Every guy is a friend to me now.”

“I got a lot of experience and played a lot of games, more than I’m used to”, said Billingham. “With a young team, it really helped me develop myself. These are a great group of guys—we’re definitely a team to contend.”

Video of the second playoff game by Evgenia Choros

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