Things Looking up for Concordia Men’s Hockey
Bumpy Start and Injuries in Rear View Mirror Thanks to Key Additions
Early in the season, just a few months removed from a bronze medal finish to the season and a trip the national championships, things were looking rocky for the Stingers.
They were struggling, losing games in key moments, and feeling the sting of numerous injuries.
There was an expectation that there would be some difficulties compared to last year. After all, about half the lineup was comprised of rookies and the team lost their top two forwards to professional contracts in the offseason.
But as the first half of the season came to a close, things began to turn around for the Stingers. Key recruits for the winter semester, rookies finding their game, and, most importantly, wins have shifted the mood around the team heading into the winter break.
The team has found their offensive touch with three players over a point per game average and three others sitting a point or so shy of the mark after the first half of the season. Rookie first line centre Hugo Roy has put up surprising numbers, scoring 14 goals and 17 points in just 16 games, putting him in a tie for second in the nation among goal scorers. His linemate Philippe Sanche has continued his strong offensive play from last year and Carl Neill rounds out the point per game trio after solidifying himself as one of the top defenders in the league.
Their offence coupled with strong production from players like captain Philippe Hudon, versatile winger Charles-Eric Legaré, and rookie defenceman Bradley Lalonde reset the Stingers and gave them wins in five of their last six games, including a four game win streak to close out the semester.
“We’re heading on the right track. We still need to make some adjustments […] but a lot of positive from the last five games, we’re really [excited] to have a pretty solid streak heading into 2019,” said Hudon.
That mood has certainly spread to the rest of the team, and not just because of the wins.
“They know that we’re gonna have help after too. It’s really important [that we ended so strongly],” said Stingers head coach Marc-André Élement.
That help is coming in a collection of new recruits and players returning from injuries that kept them out of the first half of the season.
The most notable name joining the lineup will be former Montreal Canadiens draft pick Simon Bourque. The defenceman has plenty of junior experience and even a year of play in the American Hockey League. He’ll be the third NHL draft pick on the Stingers roster along with Hudon and Neill.
“It’s a blessing to get him to come here. It’s a good thing for the program and a good thing for the league as well,” said Neill. “ I’m sure he’s gonna be a big help right away and we’re looking forward to having him.”
Along with Bourque, at least one major junior player will be joining the team for the new semester and Dylan McCrory, the team’s division one NCAA recruit from this summer, should be allowed to to play starting in January.
The Stingers should also have Colin Grannary and Brendan Hamelin, who have missed the entire semester to injury, returning early in the new year, if not at the start, as well.
Grannary impressed coaches in training camp after coming over from the NCAA like McCrory. He scored a hat trick against the UQTR Patriotes before going down with a knee injury. Hamelin was the provincial AAA leading scorer and MVP last season and should also add another offensive punch to the lineup of forwards.
With these two and McCrory coming into the lineup, and with a junior player in the mix as well, not only do the Stingers get a strong boost but lineup changes as well.
While it is unlikely that the top line of Hudon, Roy, and Sanche will broken up, every other line will most likely see players moved around to accomodate a much stronger and more complete group of forwards that sits at sixth in the nation in terms of goals per game already.
Likewise, Simon Bourque should create a more competitive environment on defence. While Neill and his defensive partner Alexandre Gosselin’s spots are all but assured, aside from them and rookie defenders Lalonde and Charlie Roy, Bourque leaves just one open spot for players like Anthony Gingras, Mathieu Desautels, and Philippe Charbonneau to battle for.
While their difficult start may have set them back in the standings, the Stingers’ newest additions certainly give them a significant boost across the board heading into the new year.
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