Concordia 4, Queen’s 2: Stingers Surprise Gaels in Game One Victory
Strong Goaltending and Defense Give Stingers Chance to End Series at Home Friday
It was the start to a second-round rematch for the Stingers. After falling to the Queen’s University Gaels in last year’s playoffs, the Stingers men’s hockey team were hungry for revenge.
Early pressure by the Gaels had Concordia trapped in their own zone but Queen’s just couldn’t break through goalie Marc-Antoine Turcotte or the defense in front of him.
An early goal off of a deflection by rookie forward Massimo Carozza past Queen’s goaltender Kevin Bailie put them in front. Carozza’s first period was a collection of scoring chances and strong forechecking as the rookie looked dangerous in the offensive zone.
The calm, controlled play of Turcotte that gave them confidence because the Stingers looked relaxed and effective in all three zones to start the game, particularly their own.
Any chance that came at them early on was knocked away and became a rush heading right back into the Gaels’ zone. This kind of pressure brought the Stingers their first powerplay and second goal of the game as forward Raphael Lafontaine buried a rebound to double his team’s lead in the dying seconds of the numerical advantage.
The multi-goal lead wouldn’t last as the Gaels found a second gear, applying pressure and notching their own rebound marker to bring the game within one. The final minutes of the opening frame were filled with a barrage of Queen’s chances but a set of steady blocks by defenders and saves by Turcotte kept the score 2-1 heading into the second.
The second period’s pace was high as team’s traded chances early on. The matchup felt less like a battle of will and skill than a chess match at times as Concordia tried to solve Queen’s ability to neutralize even the best of offenses while Queen’s tried to shut down the run-and-gun style that has made the Stingers so successful.
With five minutes to go in regulation, the Stingers missed out on two odd-man rush chances while the Gaels answered back by forcing Turcotte into a difficult save. Both teams were pushing for the goal that would decide the rest of the game.
That goal came a minute later off the stick of forward William Gignac who picked up the puck off of a broken play in front of the net, scoring a backhanded goal right through Bailie’s five-hole assisted by forward Alexis Pepin and defender Curtis Gass. It would stand as the game-winner by the end of the night.
While the Stingers made sure to press for a fourth goal early in the third period, the final frame was characterized by heavy defensive effort from the Stingers. Players on both sides threw themselves in front of shots in true playoff fashion and the Stingers made sure little got through to their goaltender.
Heavy hits had recently healthy forward Philippe Sanche down for a while in the third but he returned to play at the end of the game without trouble.
Though Queen’s managed one more goal, the Stingers put on a clinic defensively in their own zone through late penalty kills and Queen’s empty-net man advantage. In the final seconds, captain Phil Hudon continued his streak of inspired play, scoring the empty-netter and ending the game.
The Stingers will play game two at home Friday night with a chance to end the series at Ed Meagher Arena.
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