Delayed by a week due to COVID-19 protocols, game one for the Martlets hockey team (12-3-0) versus the Concordia Stingers (11-3-1) best-of-three playoff series took place on March 17. Throughout the season, McGill worked hard to earn their spot in the RSEQ finals. Though the team fought tooth and nail, they ultimately fell just short of the championship title, losing their first game 3-0 and their second 4-1.
Though the Martlets couldn’t clinch this series, fifth-year forward Stephanie Desjardins emphasized that this does not hinder the girls’ end goal.
“Obviously it was not the result we wanted,” Desjardins said. “But we still have a shot at our ultimate goal which is the national championship. The games were good [to] prepare for next week.”
McGill played Thursday night’s home game to a packed arena, with fans from both schools cheering loud and hard. Both Martlets and Stingers glided onto the ice with a powerful demeanour—ready, willing, and able to go to all lengths to secure the win. However, within the first five minutes of the period, Rosalie Begin-Cyr from the Stingers scored a swift goal to put the Stingers on the board.
The Martlets tried to get past the Stingers’ wicked fast defence, with forward Katie Rankin attempting several shots on goal, but to no avail—the Concordia skaters were just too fast. They frequently intercepted McGill’s long passes, leaving no Martlet unguarded. Yet, goalie Tricia Deguire let no pucks through for the rest of the period, leaving the first frame of the game at 1-0 for Concordia.
During the second period, the Stingers left the Martlets’ defence scrambling. Even as their main tactic became to keep the puck away from the net, the Martlets’ offensive shots often took too long to set up, resulting in an impenetrable fortress forming around the Stingers’ goalie, Alice Philbert, and the shots inevitably being blocked.
Things got bleaker for McGill fans when the Stingers scored another two goals, putting the Martlets at a three-point deficit. The third period saw little change in either teams’ strategies, and the first game closed off with a loss for McGill.
Both teams returned refreshed on Friday, ready for the second game, with McGill hoping to push the series to a tie-breaker. Alas, the Martlets had a disheartening start, with the Stingers up 2-0 in the first period. Though their aggression increased in the second half of the game, McGill needed to step up and throw shots at goal, but their energy could not drive the team all the way to the net. With a goal from team captain Jade Downie-Landry, the score was briefly 2-1 for Concordia. However, with 7.8 seconds left in the second period, the Stingers scored again, followed later by a final open net goal after McGill pulled goalie Deguire off the ice, closing the series with another loss for McGill, 4-1.
Marika Labrecque, a fifth-year centre on the team, shared Desjardins’ sentiments about the national championships, remaining proud of her team while recognizing what held them back.
“Our first game was a bit more difficult and we knew that we would have to do better, especially shooting more,” Labrecque said. “We gave everything we got for this game. The intensity was there, but we didn’t capitalize when we had the opportunity.”
Despite this loss, the Martlets advance to the Final 8 tournament in Prince Edward Island, set to begin March 24.
Moment of the game: Reignited after a goal from the Stingers, goalie Tricia Deguire did not let in another goal for the rest of the game, saving five shots in a row even as the opponents’ offence continued to push forward.
Quotable: “I’m proud of how far we have come this season and still more to come. I feel as though we came together as a team and played a great game. Although we didn’t get the outcome we wanted, it was a hard fought battle. Tricia had two amazing games, which really held us in there.” – Third-year forward Makenzie McCallum
Stat Corner: Martlets goalie Tricia Deguire made 39 saves during the first game, and 32 during the second, putting her total number of saves at 11th-best in the USports Association.