Concordia 2, Ottawa 0: Warm Crowd Energizes Stingers on a Cold Winter’s Night
Concordia Men’s Hockey Bounces Back From Overtime Loss With Shutout Win
Even the most winter-hardened Canadians may balk at leaving the house in minus 38 weather with an extreme cold warning in effect. Yet, that’s just what many of the Concordia faithful did on Saturday night.
As the game against the Ottawa Gee Gee’s went on and the Ed Meagher arena filled up, the Stingers certainly took notice of the loud gasps and cheers that filled the often subdued rink.
“It’s always motivating to see people in the crowd and hear some noise at minus 38,” said Concordia defender Mathieu Desautels. “I wasn’t expecting this at all. We love our fans.”
His captain was of the same mind. “I think I’m going to pay them to come back because it’s really working well for us,” joked Phil Hudon.
Perhaps the crowd was hockey starved. Or maybe, they wanted to see them bounce back from their overtime loss to the Université du Québec à Trois Rivières Patriotes the night before.
Despite the crowd’s excitement, the holiday rust was evident in the Stingers’ first period play. The early cheers were for goaltender Marc-Antoine Turcotte who stood on his head, making save after improbable save to keep the game even through the first frame.
“He was unbelievable. Spot on tonight,” said Hudon. “He gave us a living chance to win the game. It’s been that way every game of the season. He’s been tremendous for us.”
Still, frustration seemed to sink on the Stingers bench in the second as no one could give their team the lead. To solve the problem, the Stingers turned the physicality up. Forward Philippe Sanche and Hudon garnered ovations on several occasions for laying big hits on Ottawa skaters.
The frustration seemed to disappear in the third period. The Stingers looked poised and hungry, jumping first on pucks and clearing the puck out of mad scrambles in their own crease with apparent ease.
Element couldn’t be happier with how his team handled the atmosphere. “It’s going be like this in the playoffs and the whole second half of the season. We’re playing against great teams. The fact that we are able to not panic and that we were able to play a solid third period, it looks great for the future.”
With just under five minutes to play, that solid third period payed off. After two missed chances in front of the net, forward Massimo Carozza grabbed the puck and slipped it to Matthieu Desautels at the point. The defender wasted no time firing the puck through traffic and right over the goalie’s shoulder.
“Everything was open. I got a nice down low pass from Carozza and everything opened up,” said Desautels. “There was a lot of traffic but I saw the little hole top up right. I was pretty surprised by it but happy overall.”
The final five minutes served as a condensed, heavily amplified version of the previous 55. As the crowd cheered on louder than ever, the teams squeezed chances through tight defenses. Both goalies made point blank saves on what looked like sure goals and skaters fell to the ice blocking any shot they could.
It was on one such block that the Hudson closed out the game. After taking a puck shot to the calf, he popped right back up and carried the puck down the ice to score on the empty net. Element praised his leadership, saying how proud he was of Hudon making plays this.
For Hudon, it’s good to see his team winning tight games. In December, they proved they could score in bunches on a nightly basis. Saturday night, they proved they could win the tight ones.
“Teams are gonna start being on their heels when they play us,” said Hudon.
The Stingers will be back in action Jan. 12 at the Ed Meagher Arena when they take on the Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières Patriotes.
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