Stingers 5, Gee-Gees 1: Concordia takes home game one

Five unanswered Stingers goals give them a leg up in the RSEQ semifinals

Stingers forward celebrates after her goal and looks towards the stands, where the women’s rugby team was cheering her on. Photo Yann Rifflard

The Concordia Stingers women’s hockey team started this year’s playoff run strong with a decisive 5-1 win on Feb. 22 against the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees.

Despite the five Stingers goals, the game was a close contest. There was only one goal scored in the first period, netted by Gee-Gees forward Katherine Birkby on the team’s first shot on goal. The Gee-Gees outpaced the Stingers in the first period, too, stopping Concordia from racking up any serious offensive zone time and leaning into physical play to maintain puck possession.

“The first period was a lot of nerves from a young team,” said Stingers head coach Julie Chu, post-game. “We looked nervous, I thought we played on our heels, and it wasn’t characteristic of us. What we really needed to do was to settle into the game, to allow ourselves to be human.”

The five unanswered Stingers goals in the last 40 minutes of play showed that that approach certainly worked for the team. Stingers forward Jessymaude Drapeau scored the first Stingers goal just 34 seconds into the second period, followed quickly by goals from forward Rosalie Bégin-Cyr and Stingers captain Emmy Fecteau.

“We knew after the first period that we had to be better,” said Fecteau. “We were a bit stressed ... but in the room we stayed focused, and we were ready for the second period. I think we arrived on the ice on fire.”

The shift for the Stingers was more than just emotional, it was also practical. Stingers goaltender Arianne Leblanc, who started the game, was replaced by Jordyn Verbeek for the second and third periods. Leblanc, a first-year goaltender who has split time in the crease with Verbeek throughout the season, finished the first period with a .923 save percentage.

“We have all the confidence in the world in Jordyn and in Arianne, and also Madison Oakes,” said Chu. “We have three tremendous goaltenders ... [and Jordyn] is a tremendous teammate. So regardless of whether she knew her role was going to be a backup, she was ready.”

Verbeek went on to finish the game with a shutout, stopping all seven of Ottawa’s shots throughout the second and third periods.

“I felt calm, I felt like the team was behind me,” said Verbeek about the goalie swap. “I can always count on my players to block shots — I think they block more shots than I stop pucks. I’m really happy to have them in front of me.”

The Stingers lost game two to the Gee-Gees 2-1 on Feb. 24 in Ottawa. It was their first loss of the 2023-24 season. The series’ deciding game will be held on Saturday, Feb. 25 at the Ed Meagher Arena. The puck drop is slated for 3 p.m.