Men’s Hockey: Better Effort, Same Result

Stingers Can’t Avenge Pre-Season Losses to UQTR Patriotes

Stingers forward Ben Dubois takes a faceoff against Felix Plouffe of the UQTR Patriotes at the Ed Meagher Arena on Friday, Oct. 17, 2014. Photo Rosalie Masella

Following the Concordia Stingers men’s hockey team’s 6-2 preseason defeat at the hands of the UQTR Patriotes last month, which itself followed a 9-3 drubbing a few days earlier, head coach Kevin Figsby noted his team suffered from indiscipline and lack of energy and had made key mistakes in the loss. The Stingers also allowed four power play goals that game.

This past Friday night, in their first regular season tilt with the Patriotes, their energy had improved and they were perfect on the penalty kill, fending off four penalties including a five-minute major. However, it was the Patriotes who left the Ed Meagher Arena with a 7-4 victory and two crucial points.

“It’s a 7-4 loss. I don’t think it’s a 7-4 game tonight,” said Figsby. “I thought there were a couple of goals that we’d like to have back tonight and I thought there were a couple of shots that we left on the table tonight, but from a competing level I thought we competed for about 85 per cent of the game.”

The Patriotes secured the victory off the strength of a 10-minute stretch to end the second period when they scored three unanswered goals to take a 4-1 lead. The Stingers would battle back twice to narrow the deficit to two goals, but completing the comeback against the CIS no. 4 ranked team in the country seemed just too tall an order.

“We were in it for about 51 minutes and there were a couple of guys who didn’t bring their A-performance, and when you play a team like that and not everybody’s bringing their A-performance you’re going to give up one or two goals,” said Figsby.

“It’s a tough game. They caught some good breaks,” said defenceman Youssef Kabbaj.

“We got out of that five-minute PK with momentum, but they had those two little goals that kind of brought the momentum down and we had to play from behind for the rest of the game.”

Defensively, the Stingers struggled, as goaltender Robin Billingham wasn’t given a chance on any of the goals. Of the seven goals allowed, two were of screened shots from the point, while the other five were scored up close, either from scrambles in front of the net or from UQTR players being left alone in front.

“Robin kept us in there,” said Kabbaj. “We gave a lot of odd-man rushes, we could have done a better job clearing in front of the net, a few goals were screened, so we’re going to have to clean up our defensive play.”

After one period, the game could have gone either way. Dany Potvin scored for the Stingers to tie the game at 1-1, and the Maroon and Gold were putting up some good pressure and impressing with their speed off the rush.

Captain Olivier Hinse and alternate captain Antoine Houde-Caron led the charge offensively, each scoring a goal while Houde-Caron added two assists. However, they simply weren’t able to withstand the barrage of Patriotes goals from the second period on.

“There are a lot of positives from the game, but you always want to get better,” said Houde-Caron. “I think the PK did a really good job, especially in the second when we killed a five-minute penalty. At this moment I thought momentum was on our side but then they scored two quick goals.”

A scary moment occurred in the second period as Victor Provencher got his stick up too high on UQTR’s Olivier Hotte, cutting him above the ear and earning a five-minute major penalty. Hotte left the game and returned with a bandage on his head, but rink therapist Alexandra Bergeron confirmed that it was just a small cut and he is doing well.

With the Stingers facing a nearly insurmountable deficit in the third period, the rough stuff began. The frame was highlighted by skirmishes involving players from both teams, and the rivalry was in full swing.

“I don’t really like them, to be honest,” said Kabbaj. “I have a few friends on the other team but their team in general I don’t really like.”

Kabbaj called the Patriotes “a very good team,” but added, “They’re very chippy, very intense, they hit a lot.”

“Obviously, we want to beat those guys,” added Houde-Caron. “If we want to be the best, we’ve got to beat the best.”

The loss, coupled with a 3-2 loss to Queen’s University on Saturday, drops the Stingers to 2-4 on the season as they fall to 8th-place in nine-team the OUA East division.

The Stingers will next take on York University in Toronto on Oct. 24.