Concordia 4, McGill 1: Stingers women’s hockey win RSEQ championship
Staunch goaltending and clean sweep of playoffs leads to provincial title
Fans were packed in like sardines Friday night to watch the Concordia Stingers’ women’s hockey team face-off against the McGill Martlets for game two of the RSEQ championship finals.
Goalie Alice Philbert stood on her head making 34 saves on 35 shots. She thwarted every McGill offensive attack, ending with a score of 4-1 for the Stingers.
The game itself started off full of moxie. Both teams’ aggressive plays sparked chances at each end of the ice. The Stingers used their speed to create partial breakaways, yet Martlets goaltender Tricia Deguire was sturdy. The Martlets themselves used their size to apply pressure in Concordia’s zone, creating turnovers which led to Stingers’ Philbert being tested early.
“She’s earned it,” said head coach Julie Chu post-game when asked about Philbert’s status as top goaltender. “She’s proven it not only in practices every single day with the way she pushes, but in the way that she’s competing and playing in games.”
Concordia would get on the board first. From an offensive zone face-off, the puck found its way to forward Rosalie Begin-Cyr who was able to sneak the puck into the bottom left corner past the pad of Deguire with 6:10 remaining in the first frame.
Moments later, Concordia was on their second of three penalty kills of the first period—one of six on the night-when Stingers’ forward Emmy Fecteau was sprung on the breakaway while McGill attempted to change lines. Fecteau’s initial shot was saved by Deguire, but forward Audrey-Anne Rodrigue would knock home the rebound, making it a 2-0 game in favour of the Stingers.
Despite the strong start, in the second period Concordia landed in hot water. After a double-minor penalty was assessed to the Stingers’ defensemen Olivia Hale for illegal contact to the head, Concordia was short-handed once again. A shot from the Martlets blueline hit off of Philbert and into the crease causing a scrum of players pursuing the puck. One poke from the stick of McGill captain Jade Downie-Landry made the score 2-1 Stingers.
“Special teams are important in the postseason,” said coach Chu. “[...] Special teams are going to be the difference-maker when you have really good teams that are well matched.”
With the double-minor still intact, Fecteau drew another penalty for goaltender interference meaning the Stingers would have to fend off a five-on-three penalty kill. Concordia’s defence would put bodies in the way of shots, and manage to fend off the Martlets.
“When we’re playing hard, when we’re playing intense[ly] and we’re playing gritty, we still have to play under control. We still have to find that balance, and so that’s a big part of what we have to adjust,” said Chu.
Concordia would catch a break later on in the second. The Martlets’ Emma Piers would get called for slashing, and Laura Jardin would get called for tripping seconds later, sending Concordia to their own five-on-three powerplay. Stingers’ forward Stephanie Lalancette carried the puck into McGill’s zone with a burst of speed. She’d find her own rebound and score with 7.8 seconds left in the second period, making it 3-1 Concordia heading into intermission.
In the third period McGill would throw everything they had left at Philbert whose stellar goaltending was impossible to beat.
“I look at the game five minutes at a time and try to stay focused,” said Philbert. She added post-game that she understood the importance of being named the starter, and that she had to remain prepared for the endeavour.
In the final minutes, McGill pulled their goalie, sending out an extra attacker, as desperation set in. Concordia’s defence was sound. Stingers’ captain Audrey Belzile would fittingly score the empty netter sealing the win for Concordia. The Ed Meagher Arena roared with boisterous cheering as the clock hit zero, as Concordia was crowned the RSEQ champions.
“It’s just incredible. After the year of Covid that cancelled the year, I think we came back a long way and we were ready for this year,” said Belzile. “For me and all the graduates it was our last chance and I think we showed what this team is capable of. The next step is [national] championships, so we’re ready for that.”
The Stingers now set their sights on nationals, which will be held in Charlottetown at Prince-Edward-Island University from March 24-27.