Redbirds 3, Stingers 1: McGill wins OUA East semifinals

Stingers men’s hockey eliminated in game two

McGill players regroup on the ice after the final buzzer sounded their victory. Photo Yann Rifflard

Concordia men’s hockey team’s season comes to an end after being bested 3-1 in game two of the semifinals by crosstown rivals McGill Redbirds on Feb. 24 at the Ed Meagher Arena.

In contrast to game one of the semi-finals, the elimination game was a more defensive matchup. Concordia put up a valorous effort, outshooting their opponent 36-20. However, Redbirds goaltender Alexis Shank stymied the Stingers offense, finishing the night with a save percentage of 0.970. 

Stingers captain Phélix Martineau, who was likely playing his last game with the Stingers, expressed his disappointment with the results.

“Honestly, I thought we deserved this game and I think we were the better team,” Martineau said.

The Stingers started off in the driver’s seat when forward Gabriel Proulx undressed goaltender Alexis Shank with a dangle a little over a minute into the first frame. The Stingers returned to the locker room after 20 minutes of play with a 1-0 lead.

Seconds into the middle frame, Redbirds forward Zachary Gallant provoked a turnover while shorthanded before setting up forward Charles-Antoine Dumont for the tying goal. Gallant also scored the go-ahead goal on the powerplay. In the dying seconds of the middle frame, the Stingers thought forward Isaiah Campbell had tied the game, but his goal was overturned for high-sticking. 

Stingers head coach Marc-André Elément pushed his team to continue fighting after Campbell’s goal was called off. “We have no choice but to keep going, it’s not our call but we have to keep going,” he said. 

Stingers goaltender Jordan Naylor denied multiple attacks and breakaways in the second period, keeping the Stingers within reach of tying the game. 

“I knew when they got up on us [that] we were going to have to take some chances and we were going to give up some odd man rushes in the process and I was going to have to make big saves, so I was prepared,” Naylor said.

The Stingers registered ten shots on goal in the third period but Shank remained firm in front of his net. In a last effort, Elément called a timeout in the final seconds of the third frame. 

“Keep putting pucks towards the net you never know what might happen” said Elément during the timeout. Despite putting up a fight, Redbirds forward Eric Uba, scored an empty net goal, shattering any hope of a comeback. 

As the curtains closed on the Stinger’s season, Elément praised his team for their determination. “They are guys that never quit, they’ve been through a lot, injuries, etcetera. They’re warriors,” said Elément. 

As many players prepare to bid farewell to the Ed Meagher Arena and their careers as Stingers, Naylor spoke about his chemistry with the graduating players, “Ty (Tyler Hylland), Marty (Martineau) and Gig (Charles-Antoine Giguère), they are not just my best friends, they are also the best people I have met, and I’m going to miss those guys.”

After the game, Martineau reflected on his years with the Stingers;“The time went by so fast with COVID but I will always remember my time. I had a lot of fun with the guys.”.

The Redbirds are currently awaiting the winner of the matchup between the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees and the Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières Patriotes to see who they will face off against in the championship. The series is currently tied 1-1. The decisive game will take place on Feb. 25 at 7 p.m. in Trois-Rivières.