Concordia 7, Nipissing 2: Stingers Men’s Hockey Leaders Shine in Blowout Win
Concordia Routs Visiting Lakers
Before his team’s game against the Nipissing Lakers, an opponent chasing the Stingers closely in the standings, head coach Marc-andré Élement delivered a simple message for his players.
“Leaders, lead the way.”
They did just that in a dominant 7-2 blowout. Despite some recent losses, the Stingers veterans were ready to make sure their coach knew they were listening to what he had said.
“When your coach asks for more, you gotta put your work in on the ice. It’s easy to say yes but you have to show it with actions,” said captain Philippe Sanche.
Sanche and his teammates jumped out to an early 3-0 lead, including a shorthanded goal by the captain during a four-on-three penalty kill. You’d think with a start like that, the team would be happy with the game’s opening frame.
“We didn’t like the first period to be honest. We had a 3-0 lead and we took stupid penalties,” said Élement.
Nipissing stormed back to make the game close with two goals and the Stingers knew that they were in a precarious position. The Lakers may not be a team high in the standings, but as the Stingers know after beating some top teams this year, once the puck drops, the standings don’t decide anything.
It was time for the team’s leaders to lead.
“We realized we were playing on our heels. We were a little comfortable with 3-0. In this league, any team has enough talent to come back,” said Carl Neill.
Neill and Sanche knew what had to be done for the rest of the game. They took charge, and, for the most part, the rest of the game was all Stingers.
The Lakers never touched the back of the net again, while the Stingers added four more goals, including one less than a minute into the second by Sanche.
The Stingers captain added another goal in the third, notching a hat trick and spending the night coming at Nipssing from every angle.
Sanche’s goals put him in sole position of fourth place on the all-time goal scoring list for the Stingers with 43. Though Olivier’s Hinse’s team record of 72 seems to be out of reach before Sanche graduates at the end of next season, the second place mark of 52 looks to be well within reach for Sanche.
He’s also now seventh all time in points and just three shy of the top five.
“It makes me feel like I’m getting old,” said Sanche with a laugh. “When I got here, the program was on the rise with [Élement] making a lot of moves. It’s fun to see. I hope some guys in this locker room are gonna stay here four or five years like me, catch me, and beat me.”
Sanche was the star of the show, but Neill was just as productive. The Stingers top defenceman chipped in with three assists while taking care of things handily in his own end. Neill was a force throughout the night, leading rushes and playing deep into Lakers territory to generate offence while shutting down any chances coming the other way.
“It helps a lot. This weekend is big for us and seeing guys like that produce for us is awesome,” said rookie goaltender Kyle Jessiman, who recorded his first win in the game.
The efforts and production of these two leaders gave a big push to their younger teammates. Second-year William Leclerc scored off of a Neill assist, rookies Jeff de Witt and Alex Katerinakis each scored as well.
Second-year Colin Grannary chipped in with a deflection goal. Rookie defender Gabriel Bilodeau made his presence known with a pair of assists.
The Stingers have to be happy with the offensive burst as they’ve had trouble on that end recently. The celebration may be dampened by the potential return of the injury bug.
De Witt, Leclerc, and Jeff Fletcher all got hit with injuries late in the game after some questionable plays by Nipissing. Leclerc in particularly had to be helped off in a great deal of pain. There were no updates on them post game but Fletcher returned to the bench after a heavy hit and did not go off to the locker room before the end of the game.
The Stingers next play Jan. 19 against the Queen’s Golden Gaels at the Ed Meagher arena.