Concordia 2, UdeM 1: Bégin-Cyr Two-Goal Outing Edge Carabins
Stingers Outlast Carabins in Tight-Knit Contest
On March 2, the Concordia Stingers hung on to win a hard-fought battle 2-1 over the Université de Montréal Carabins in game one of the Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec final.
The Carabins sucked the oxygen out of the home crowd early on. Sitting atop the league as the least penalized team in the regular season with 147 minutes, the women’s hockey team played their usual tight-checking, defensive game, giving the Stingers barely any wiggle room to craft scoring chances.
“Montreal plays a really disciplined game,” said Stingers head coach Julie Chu. “They oftentimes have at least three players back, if not a fourth. So for sure, in regards to the flow of the game, it slows it down a bit. But this is playoff hockey. What we told our team is to make sure we just stay committed to our structure. And with time, it’s going to come along, and I was really proud that our players did that.”
The second period resumed at a turtle’s pace, with the Carabins clogging up the neutral zone and denying oncoming rushes. But their aggressive forecheck was not enough to stave off Stingers forward Rosalie Bégin-Cyr, who zipped past the defence before sliding a backhand shot inside the right post to open the scoring 13 minutes in. She erupted in celebration, jumping into the arms of forward Emmy Fecteau.
“We waited patiently for the first goal,” Bégin-Cyr said in French. “We knew that they would play well defensively and respect their game plan. But we tried to put pucks on net, [...] apply pressure, and just play our game.”
Bégin-Cyr and the Stingers dictated play as the period progressed. Only four minutes later, she gave her team a two-goal cushion on a five-on-three power play, releasing a wrist shot from the left circle that sailed past the opposing goalie’s shoulder. Bégin-Cyr’s tally marked her fifth goal in three playoff games.
“Rosalie has been a big-time player for us her entire career,” Chu said of No. 13. “So I think for us, it’s fitting that in these big games, we’re able to call on her. We’re not asking her to do more than she can. She’s just able to elevate her game because she wants to. And we saw it today, and I’m happy for her.”
Bégin-Cyr’s line with Fecteau and Jessymaude Drapeau did not only contribute on the scoresheet but also defused Carabins forward Audrey-Anne Veillette and her high-powered offence for parts of the game. The RSEQ first-team all-star led all Canadian players in goals this season with 26.
“She’s a great goal scorer,” Bégin-Cyr said of Veillette. “But we know how to shut her down. We just had to put pressure on her, keep her to the outside, not let her get to the net, and that’s what we did.”
The Carabins came out hungry in the third period, peppering Stingers goalie Alice Philbert with 14 shots, more than half their total for the game. With under six minutes to play, Carabins forward Amélie Poiré-Lehoux deflected a shot in from the blueline to put her team within one. But the comeback fell short, as Philbert held the fort in the latter stages of the frame to snatch the first game in what is shaping up to be a tightly-contested matchup.
After the victory, the Stingers strung together a series win, beating the Carabins 4-1 in a decisive game three to bring a second consecutive RSEQ title to Concordia. The Stingers now look to build on their swagger at the U SPORTS national championship starting Thursday, March 16 at the CEPSUM arena.