Stingers Women’s Hockey Team Heads to National Championships
Following RSEQ Championship Season, Stingers Eye U Sports Title
Fresh off a tremendous season in their own conference, the Concordia Stingers women’s hockey team are looking to take London, Ontario by storm.
The Stingers are heading to the U Sports National Championships set to take place from March 15-18. This will be their second Nationals trip in as many years, as they earned a trip to the championship last year hosted by Queens University.
The team enters the tournament as the fourth seed, and will open their quest for the championship against the St. Francis Xavier X-Women in the quarter-finals on March 16.
“We’re pretty excited about going to Nationals, it’s a pretty special culmination of this season,” said goaltender Katherine Purchase. “Our team really worked hard this year and we’ve done well to follow through with the goals we set for ourselves during the offseason.”
“Nationals is just the next step in what we wanted to accomplish this year.”
The team has had a solid season and won the Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec championship by beating the Université de Montréal Carabins in a tense three-game series. However, head coach Julie Chu says the team isn’t letting that get to their head, switching gears from celebration to focusing on Nationals.
“It’s a huge [confidence] booster [to win the RSEQ championship],” said Chu. “It’s great to have that satisfying moment of being able to win a championship in our conference, which is a really strong conference.”
“It’s weird to say this, but we sort of expected to be in the finals against Montréal,” said Purchase. “We’d been the best two teams all year so we were happy to play them and the feeling of winning was amazing. Winning the RSEQ was one of our goals and we’re happy to have accomplished it.”
In her three years as head coach, Chu has transformed the Stingers from a team that had a hard time winning eight games to a team that can consistently contend for an RSEQ banner.
“I think for us it’s really been a growth process these last few years and seen the development of our program,” she said.
“Getting a chance to not only win in the first round but then get to the finals and win the RSEQ championship, which was one of our goals at the beginning of the season, it was huge accomplishment.”
Chu says that winning the national title is the team’s ultimate goal and they are working hard to prepare for the big moment.
Having the opportunity to make two straight appearances in the national championships has changed the team. Second year forward Audrey Belzile is looking forward to the Stingers’ performance in London. She says that her mindset is different from back when she joined the Stingers.
“Last year I used to be afraid to play against other teams, but this year my mentality is more that they are afraid to play against us,” she said. “This is a mentality that I want to bring into my third year, fourth year, fifth year. Be the team that other teams are afraid of.”
With files from Harrison-Milo Rahajason and Dustin Kagan-Fleming.