Concordia 4, McGill 3: Rivalry Back to Full Form in Instant Classic
Comeback Moments Earn Stingers Hockey Their Revenge
Along with the sight of snow hitting Montreal, another familiar view hit Stingers fans at the Ed Meagher arena on a cold Friday night: Concordia vs. McGill at its best.
Last year, fans were treated to some of the best action university sports has to offer, four hard fought, tight, one goal rivalry games preceding one of the most exciting playoff matchups in years.
Last week, the” first game between the Montreal rivals left less of an exciting taste, and more of bloody, sour one in fans’ mouths”:https://thelinknewspaper.ca/article/mcgill-6-concordia-3-scary-start-scary-finish.
This fit better.
It was a classic, hard fought rivalry matchup, no dirty non-hockey plays. Regardless of who came out on top, every person in the packed arena got a show.
“It really does feel good. Especially when it comes against our cross town rivals. It was a bit of a bummer last week, the game as a whole,” said Stingers captain Philippe Hudon.
It was also fitting to see starting goalie Marc-Antoine Turcotte back in net after he suffered an injury in the previous week’s matchup, putting up “a huge game” in round two according to his coach.
Despite a back and forth duel, the Stingers’ game came down to comeback moments. While they never fell behind by more than a goal, McGill capitalized at key moments that could easily have broken a team’s spirit.
Late in the second period, after what head coach Marc-André Élement described as some of their best hockey of the season, the Stingers were leading. Then McGill managed two goals in the dying minutes of the period to take the lead. The Stingers tied the game and took the lead again in the third, yet McGill scored with just ten seconds left to force overtime.
The home team was undeterred.
“Our guys have a lot of experience in the captains and leaders. They took charge and said ‘we’re gonna get it,’” said Élement.
“It really does feel good. Especially when it comes against our cross town rivals. It was a bit of a bummer last week, the game as a whole” — Philippe Hudon
Hudon noted that a key to that attitude was just staying positive and focusing on the game plan. Something that showed in particular on defence and the penalty kill.
That PK got to work early when defenceman Carl Neill seemed to be pushed into McGill’s goalie and was called for interference.
“Felt something in my back. I think it was a crosscheck but I don’t have eyes in the back of my head. I think it was a bit of a crosscheck. But who knows these days,” laughed Neill, tongue in cheek.
He had reason to smile, as he exited the penalty box, he set the tone for the Stingers offence with a goal that came after a tough situation and as result of the blend of skill and work that coaches love.
Neill darted out of the box, catching a stress pass and pushing to beat defenders right behind him, he pulled to his back hand and closed his eyes as his shot trickled into the net and opened the scoring.
It was a similar mix for the next two goals as the Stingers tied the game early in the third of a roofed puck by rookie Chase Harwell in a net front scramble.
After that Hudon, who had been buzzing around the net all night, picked up a broken play by defenceman Bradley Lalonde and fired a laser to put the Stingers up 3-2.
“After two breakaways [earlier in the game], I was just like ‘just put the puck on net you never know what happens’ […] good things happen sometimes,” said Hudon.
Just as the best Concordia/McGill games always do when both teams play to their capabilities, this one came down to the wire.
A late goal to force overtime and then your goalie having to make several key saves in the extra frame are not usually great signs. Regardless, the message from the Stingers’ leaders stayed the same: keep it simple and stay positive.
They forced a shootout next and with goals from Philippe Sanche and Hugo Roy along with some pad saves from Turcotte, the Stingers found a win that might be the launching point they need.
“Man, I’d love it if we could go on a streak ‘til the end of 2018 at least,” laughed Hudon. “No certainly, we’re coming off a win against a really good team […] hopefully it’s gonna propel us.”
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