Carleton 2, Concordia 0: A Dark, Violent Start to the Stingers’ Season
Men’s Hockey Fall to Carleton in Ugly Finish
A player writhing on the ice, a fight, and a collection of dirty hits. The Concordia Stingers men’s hockey team’s first game of the season probably won’t be remembered for the play, so much as what happened outside of it.
“Hockey’s an emotional sport. Everyone gets heated, everyone wants to win […] sometimes tempers boil over,” said rookie forward Tyler Hylland.
The matchups between Concordia and the Carleton Ravens—ranked sixth nationally—have a history. They’re not quite like those of the Concordia-McGill rivalry for example, which are tight and hard-hitting, occasionally breaking out into extra physical or dirty play.
The two teams do not like each other and tend to show it every chance they get. Games are penalty-filled and often start as the kind of scrappy, hard-hitting games that many hockey fans adore. They then turn into games with punches thrown and injuries caused.
This time was no exception.
On the surface, the story seems simple. A 2-0 loss for Concordia where their goaltender, Marc-Antoine Turcotte performed incredibly well and a young offence couldn’t find its legs due to a mix of nerves and a lack of execution, despite a strong showing by their defenders.
The problem is that several incidents derailed that simple storyline. Hits from behind, slashes, and ugly hits made it difficult to focus on anything else.
Newly named captain Philippe Sanche took a hit to the face half a rink away from the play. He spent nearly 20 minutes in the locker room and returned with a full face mask.
Hylland, who grew up in the same hometown as his captain and played junior hockey with him, was happy to see him return, heaping praise on the diminutive forward.
“To see him go down and come back out doesn’t surprise me at all. The guy’s a warrior. He does that all the time,” said Hylland. “Nothing can keep him down. I think that’s why he’s our captain.”
Others had a more sour view of what happened.
“It seems like he always gets the short end of the stick, he’s always getting hit in the face,” said Stingers forward Chase Harwell. “It definitely doesn’t make the guys happy.”
Sanche does have a history of players getting physical with him. He is a pest on the ice and tends to take hit after hit. The one that took him out of the game for that stretch did not result in a powerplay for the Stingers.
“They put their biggest guy against the smallest guy in the league and stuff like that happens. we’ve gotta deal with it,” noted head coach Marc-André Élement.
Despite this and other illegal hits made by Carleton, the Stingers certainly can’t call themselves blameless.
Rookie Nicholas Blachman instigated a fight after spending his time on the ice playing his part in some heavy physicality. Fighting is not permitted in U Sports hockey and Blachman looks like he will be facing a suspension.
While both teams fought and did plenty of hitting—clean and dirty—Concordia had their own version of the Sanche hit.
As the clock wound down and the play stopped with less than two seconds remaining, words were being exchanged by the players on the ice.
Frustration got the better of all-star defenceman Carl Neill who slashed at a Carleton player stick and lower body. The player immediately fell to the ice grasping his knee and screaming in pain.
Players yelled from both sides, referees and linesmen intervened as others tried to grab each other.
The chaos of the scene mixed with the sounds of pain coming from the ice made for an upsetting image. The game’s final seconds were called off.
U Sports hockey has been on the upswing, proving itself to be a skilled league and a viable option for recruitment to the pros. Games like this that go past simply tough hockey, push back against that idea.
Players get hurt in the game, it’s fast-paced and hard-hitting. But there’s no reason for elbows to the face far from the play or last-second slashes that leave a player screaming and unable to get up.
These are two skilled teams full of players with an elite junior level of experience. There’s no need to transform heavy rivalry games from hard-nosed, high-level hockey, into this.