Concordia 3, McGill 2 (OT): Stingers Men’s Hockey Team Starts Clicking
Stingers Bounce Back From Loss in Complete Game
This was the kind of game that makes players and fans alike circle Concordia/McGill matchups on their calendar.
Stingers captain Philippe Sanche admitted as much, noting how difficult it was this week to focus on anything other than the upcoming matchup.
It would be easy to say that this was a different Stingers team than the one that lost to Carleton just 24 hours beforehand, but it wasn’t. It was just the team executing like it can.
The Stingers that earned their first victory of the season against the seventh ranked team in the nation were the same ones that fell to Carleton, but instead of getting caught up in their emotions and frustrations, stuck to the game they knew they could play.
They had plenty of excuses to rely on. Three of their players, including all-star defender Carl Neill, were suspended for the game, they had to play with just five defencemen, the lineup was full of rookies, and they were playing a top tier team.
But instead of leaning on those excuses, they embraced the challenges.
“It means a lot for our team early in the season. We’ve already had some adversity which is rare after one game in the season. We’ve got some injuries and suspensions,” said rookie forward Tyler Hylland. “It’s good to see the boys can overcome that.”
The team showed plenty of strategic adjustments after dropping their first game of the year. They applied a far stronger break out and attack on the neutral zone and used speed to create controlled entries on offense. But the most important factor in this win, is that it came from cohesion in just about every facet of the game.
That’s not to say things were perfect by any means. But the team can look at this as the so often trotted out phrase of “a complete team win.”
Goaltender Marc-Antoine Turcotte once again played a stellar game, stretching out to make key saves and earning ovations from the crowd at every turn.
In front of him, a defense played a key role in a strong coverage of their own side of the ice and an offensive push. Down 2-0 in the second period, the defense never stopped joining the rush and taking part in pushing the offense, while guarding their own end.
With the absence of Neill, it was Bradley Lalonde who took control of the number one defenceman post. He, along with veteran Alexandre Gosselin, led a defense made up of three rookies and missing several key pieces due to injury.
Lalonde’s offensive frustrations were emblematic of his team’s. He threw shot after shot at the opposing net to no avail. That changed against McGill when his signature one timer tied the game at two and earned him his first goal of the year.
“One was bound to go in. If I keep shooting like that, one’s eventually gonna go in. That’s my mindset,” laughed Lalonde, who bulked up over the offseason, knowing he’d have a key role on the team this season.
The defense in particular looked much stronger than in the first game. Head coach Marc-André Élement made sure to do plenty of video work with his blueliners between the first and second game and believes it really paid off.
While the team’s defense was strong, the key ended up being finding their spark on offense. The team went four consecutive periods without scoring a goal to start the season. That changed in the second when Jean-Philippe Beaulieu notched a powerplay marker to get Concordia back into a game in which they trailed by two.
From there, the offense began to come alive for the team. Scoring chances multiplied and McGill players found themselves chasing a team that was pushing the pace offensively and defensively.
“It’s the chemistry coming along. Second game of the season, everyone’s got their feet wet now,” said Hylland. “Once you get one, it starts to roll. It’s like a snowball coming down a hill.
The team managed three powerplay goals, including the overtime game winner by Hylland. But perhaps the most important special teams moment came late in the third period, when the Stingers
found themselves with more than a minute and a half of five on three penalty killing time to eat up, thanks to back to back calls against them.
The Stingers would end up frustrating McGill with several saves from Turcotte and multiple denied zone entries.
“You can’t think too much on the 5 on 3. You just gotta wait for them to make a play and then react. You’ve gotta be patient,” said Sanche, a key piece in the team’s penalty killing unit.