With the bus pulling out of the snow-laden campus parking lot about 1 p.m., the Concordia Stingers women’s hockey team began its journey to Kingston, Ont. and its first appearance at the U SPORTS national championship in more than a decade.
It was an usual start to Wednesday’s scheduled departure. The university was closed as a result of a 35-centimetre dumping of snow. Practice was cancelled. The arena parking lot was blanketed in snow making it difficult for the team bus and equipment truck to reach the doors.
Somewhere in the midst of things coaches Julie Chu and Caroline Ouellette grabbed shovels and helped clear a path to the truck. While the image of highly-decorated Olympians digging their way to a cargo truck seems absurd, it really captures the essence of the Stingers.
The 2016-17 women’s hockey team is committed, tough, gritty. From the coaches to the players, the Stingers take nothing for granted and work exceptionally hard.
“We’ve earned everything we’ve got,” said captain Tracy-Ann Lavigne. “We earned our way to the nationals.”
The Stingers go into the eight-team tournament as the No. 7 seed and will face the No. 2 seeded Guelph Gryphons on Friday at 3 p.m. It’s a team Concordia is familiar with having defeated Guelph 2-1 in preseason action on Sept. 17.
The details of the exhibition game were a little sketchy, but the Stingers were respectful of the Gryphons’ goaltending. Regardless, players pointed out that Concordia’s game has come a long way since then and that the early season win is a boost for morale heading into the showdown.
There’s no doubt the Stingers are aiming high versus Guelph and throughout the championship.
“The goal is the gold medal,” said Lavigne. “We deserve it for the hard work we’ve done. And we won’t wait for wins to come to us. We’ll go get them.”
The championship takes place this Thursday through Sunday at the Strathcona Paper Centre in Napanee, Ont., where the Queen's Gaels will serve as hosts.
All games from the tournament will be streamed live online at oua.tv