The Concordia Stingers suffered a lopsided 8-1 loss at the hands of the perennial powerhouse UNB Varsity Reds in the quarter-finals of the U SPORTS national championship before 3374 fans in Fredericton on Thursday night.
It was a long way to go to play one game and lose, but it was a big step forward for the Concordia men’s hockey team.
“Coming here is huge for our program,” said rookie left wing Massimo Carozza after the game. “Playing UNB is huge for our program. Now we know we still have a lot to learn.”
The Stingers fell behind 3-0 in the first period and played a scoreless second frame. The wheels came off in the final period as the Varsity Reds notched five goals, while the Stingers mustered just one from U SPORTS MVP Anthony Beauregard.
“It was tough,” said Concordia head coach Marc-André Elément. “UNB is a really good team. They battle hard. They’re a machine.”
Elément, who took over the program in 2015, has orchestrated a monumental turnaround. This was the first time Concordia played in the national championship tournament since 1984. He’s confident that this is the beginning of the Stingers’ journey.
“Tonight, it was a good lesson for us,” he said. “We really want to learn from this and get better next year. And to be honest, we’re ahead in our plan. I took over three years ago and we’re here today.
“I’m really proud of our guys. Our program is young and we’re moving in the right direction.”
Concordia heads back to Montreal on Friday morning, and it’s safe to say Elément and his staff will throw themselves into recruiting.