State of the Rivalry

A Glimpse At the Storied Concordia-McGill Rivalry In the Present Day

The men’s and hockey team lost a thrilling game to McGill over the weekend. The men’s team lost 4-3 in double overtime this past Friday. Photo Matt Garies
The women’s hockey team lost a close game versus McGill. Concordia lost to the Martlets in a shootout with the final score being 2-1 this past Saturday. Photo Evgenia Choros
The Concordia Stingers basketball and hockey teams were all in action this past weekend against McGill. Above, the Stingers men’s basketball team edged the McGill Redmen 51-44 this past Saturday. Photo Julian McKenzie
Kaylah Barrett (left) and the Stingers women’s basketball team couldn’t keep up with the McGill Martlets in their game on Saturday, losing 72-48. Photo Julian McKenzie

Stingers, Redmen and Martlets haven’t gotten along since the dawn of man, or so we’ve been led to believe. In the world of university athletics, there is no shortage of history between “Concordians” and “McGillionaires.”

Concordia-McGill matchups are easy to build up from a promotional and sports news point of view. They’re the two anglophone universities in Montreal, making it natural to group them together.

While the McGill football team has seen better days, both Stingers and Redmen have had some notable clashes in their history. This past November, the Stingers won their first rugby championship since 2005 over McGill, a team that denied them the crown four years in a row.

It’s impressive to point out, however, the parallel between how both hockey and basketball teams view the rivalry.

This past weekend, Concordia and McGill squared off in both winter sports. The Stingers were only able to grab one win, a 51-44 victory over McGill in men’s basketball, while both hockey teams lost to McGill in thrilling overtime and shootout games.

The hockey teams are clearly into it. Despite the gap in the standings between the men’s and women’s teams, it is believed that these match ups bring out the best in both sides.

“It’s a crosstown rivalry as good as it gets,” said McGill’s head coach Kelly Nobes. “A lot of these guys played [junior hockey] and know each other from their time doing that,” he continued. “There’s always bragging rights there.”

“I think [Concordia gets] up for the games against McGill,” said Stingers coach Kevin Figsby. “I don’t think anyone’s going home thinking that they didn’t see a good hockey game tonight and that’s what we look forward to when we play those guys.”

The men’s team have faced each other twice this season, and while McGill has won both encounters, the deficit has never been larger than two goals. The two will face each other in the upcoming OUA playoffs this week and they’re preparing for the battle ahead.

“They have a good team, we’ve got to respect them,” said Redmen forward Benoit Lévesque. “[We’re going to] watch some video and get ready to play them in playoffs.”

The women’s hockey teams have been more competitive than the men. On Nov. 7, Concordia beat McGill for the first time in over eight years.

They have played each other five times this season. Concordia may have only won once, but all games but one have been decided by one goal. The lone game that wasn’t was a 5-3 decision when the fifth goal was scored on an empty net.

Stingers women’s hockey team head coach Les Lawton said they’re closing the gap, getting to .500 against the number two team in the nation. “Getting five out of 10 points and playing each game really hard has built this up to a respectful rivalry,” he said. “We finally earned our respect. There might
even be some fear in them.”

Every game brings the intensity that one would expect from a crosstown rivalry, but seeing how close these games are gives Concordia the intensity and enthusiasm it will need come playoffs at the end of the month, where they’ll likely have a first-round matchup against McGill.

“I’m really [looking] forward to playing them [and beating them] in the playoffs; they’re actually the team I want to play against,” said Stingers alternate captain Alyssa Sherrard. “We know we can compete against them.”

“I think the levels of our league in general has gotten so much better,” said Martlet captain Katia Clement-Heydra. “Concordia always gives us a challenge every game and it’s intense and stressful each and every game. It’s the best rivalry out there. I think it’s great for our game.”

Basketball, however, is a different story.

“I don’t know if the [rivalry] really exists,” said McGill Martlets basketball head coach Ryan Thorne. “These girls all played on the same CEGEP teams. During the game they compete like competitors should and I think after the game they’re cordial enough to make sure [they say] ‘hey, you know what? Good game.’ There’s no big animosity there.”

“I don’t know if the [rivalry] really exists,” said McGill Martlets basketball head coach Ryan Thorne. “These girls all played on the same CEGEP teams. During the game they compete like competitors should and I think after the game they’re cordial enough to make sure [they say] ‘hey, you know what? Good game.’ There’s no big animosity there.”

There are only five teams in each of the conferences, meaning that Concordia and McGill frequently meet. Despite this, the hate is spread equally throughout the Réseau de sport étudiant du Québec conference.

“It’s a great rivalry, but which team in this league do we not have a great rivalry with?” said Stingers women’s basketball head coach Keith Pruden. “Everybody hates everybody. It’s a big game every time we play everybody.”

“It’s such a small conference that everything gets personal,” said Stingers men’s basketball guard Mukiya Post. “Every team is a team that’s very competitive, where you don’t like the other team. Especially when you lose, you don’t like the other team.”

In an earlier encounter between the Stingers and the Redmen this season, a fight broke out, resulting in four ejections, three of them given to Concordia Stingers. Such a skirmish has been downplayed and left aside by the Stingers.

“That’s in the past,” said Stingers men’s basketball forward Michael Fosu. “We just focus on the basketball game now.”

Naturally, a number of players on both sides have grown up and played together before separating to their respective universities.

In a rivalry, teams must have some sort of contempt for one another. Hockey clearly has some hate and playful banter going on, but the present-day rivalry has a long way to go before reaching the level of other rivalries in the Canadian Interuniversity Sport realm.

“You know when there’s a rivalry? When we put 10,000 people in the gym like Ottawa and Carleton. That’s when it becomes a rivalry,” said McGill Redmen men’s basketball head coach David DeAveiro.

Despite how athletes on both sides feel, Martlets, Redmen and Stingers will forever be linked, until another English school tries to establish itself in Montreal.