Concordia Stingers savour women’s hockey victory after 23-year wait
Stingers captain Audrey Belzile hasn’t been able to stop smiling since winning the national championship — so much so that her cheeks are starting to hurt.
Concordia’s women’s hockey team blanked the Nipissing Lakers 4-0 in the U Sports final on Sunday at MacLauchlan Arena in Charlottetown, P.E.I., reclaiming the title for the first time since 1999.
“It’s the end of my career, and we had almost a perfect year, so this is a dream come true,” Belzile said the day after the game.
After the pandemic forced the cancellation of the season that would have been her fifth and final year, Belzile wasn’t sure if she would return for one more — but coming back turned out to be one of the best decisions she’s ever made.
“I will cherish it for the rest of my life,” she said, holding up her medal and beaming ear to ear.
Players rushed their goalie and threw their sticks and gloves in the air as soon as the buzzer went off.
Goalie Alice Philbert made 25 saves to shut out the Lakers.
Stephanie Lalancette scored twice in the third period to power the offence for the Stingers. Maria Manarolis, on the power play, and Audrey Belzile also scored.
“We don’t like to give up goals,” said Julie Chu, the Stingers’ head coach.
She has been with the program for 7 years, coaching the veterans on this year’s championship team for their whole career.
“I think why I love coaching at university is because we get to see our student athletes grow,” she said.
“When it happens, and everything lines up, and we execute the way we need to, in the end it’s pretty special to see … to feel that satisfaction and that excitement of what we were able to accomplish.”
Brigitte Laganière is another one of the four players on the team who decided to return for a sixth year.
“It closed my chapter so well, and with that amazing group, it’s just amazing what we accomplished,” she said.
Emmy Fecteau, 23, was born the same year that the Stingers last won the national championship.
She said the win is her highest achievement to date.
“I want to win again. We will have a lot of new players,” she said weakly, after having worn out her vocal cords the day before.
The third-year student says she will be returning to the team next year, ready to harness this year’s victory to help lead a new team.