The Concordia Stingers are the 2022 national U Sports women’s hockey champions. The Stingers went undefeated through four conference playoff games and three national games to claim the Golden Path Trophy.
The Stingers were hot down the stretch, capping their season with six straight wins to finish one point back of McGill. They swept Montreal in the first round of the playoffs and McGill in the finals. Concordia entered the national tournament as the top-seeded team thanks to their remarkable performance in the RSEQ.
In the opening game against UPEI, the Stingers cruised to a 7-0 victory in which Rosalie Bègin-Cyr scored a hattrick with a powerplay, shorthanded, and even-strength goal. In their second game, Concordia outshot Saskatchewan 29-8 through the first two periods. A pair of goals in the middle frame were all the Stingers needed to take and keep the lead. The Huskies rallied in the third to push for the comeback, but Concordia and Alice Philbert shut the door to protect a second shutout.
Nipissing made it to the finals with a pair of their own shutouts. They upset UBC in an extremely tight 1-0 overtime victory which Nipissing won on the shoulders of Chloe Marshall. Then, the Lakers sailed passed UNB in a confident 4-0 win.
Neither team had allowed a goal coming into the final, so someone would have their shutout broken. The first period was a tight battle that yielded no change as Philbert and Marshall stared each other down. Concordia looked like the better team, but a push from Nipissing on the power play gave the Lakers a lead in the shots coming out of the period.
The second looked much like the first, with the two sides trading chances to no avail. It wasn’t until late in the period when Concordia finally broke through. Emma Neff took a penalty late in the second, sending the Stingers to the advantage. With less than two minutes left in the period, Maria Manarolis collected a puck in the slot and swung at it until it made it through for a Stingers lead.
The Stingers are on the board in the championship game— CBC Sports (@cbcsports) March 27, 2022
Maria Manarolis nets one for Concordia and the Stingers lead the Lakers 1-0 heading into the third period pic.twitter.com/oOmM2aB66n
Concordia took the momentum into the third and closed the game out the only way they know-how. Their relentless pressure finally started to show the cracks in Nipissing’s defence, and they outshot the Lakers 14-6. Stéphanie Lalancette roofed a shot to double the Concordia lead early in the third. Captain Audrey Belzile scored an assurance goal with some silky-smooth hands that snuck the puck around the pads of Marshall.
Silky Smooth! @Concordia_WH captain Audrey Belzile gives assurance with just a few minutes to play. Concordia are on the cusp of completing an undefeated playoff run to a national championship#USPORTS pic.twitter.com/JJoTRW0Mn1— Simon Hopkins (@Simon_Hops) March 27, 2022
Down three, Nipissing pulled their goalie early, but it didn’t work, and Lalancette scored from the blueline for her second of the night.
When the clock ran down, the Concordia players spilled over the boards alongside their coaches under the confetti of gloves, sticks, and helmets. The Stingers win their first national women’s hockey championship since 1999. It is a deserved victory for the most dominant team in U Sports hockey.
Nipissing deserves credit for their performance in this tournament. Chloe Marshall and the Nipissing defence were nearly impenetrable, defending valiantly against top U Sports talent. Nipissing is one of the smallest schools in U Sports women’s hockey, and their student body is just 1/10th that of Concordia. Their U Sports women’s hockey silver medal is Nipissing’s first-ever silver medal at the national level.