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A Stingers win 23 years in the making

If you ask Concordia’s director of Recreation and Athletics D’Arcy Ryan the highlight of his 2021-22 year, he doesn’t hesitate: “The women’s hockey team winning the national championship,” he says. “It was a very emotional day — I still have shivers.”

The victory marked only the third time the Stingers have taken home the Golden Path Trophy, after winning the initial two national titles back in 1998 and 1999. But the tournament that took place on Prince Edward Island in March 2022 was meaningful for another reason: it was the first Canadian university women’s hockey championships since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Ryan explains how disappointed the players were when their entire 2020-21 season was cancelled. Luckily, his veterans got another chance.

“It gave an opportunity for some students to come back for an extra year, which they normally would not have had,” he says. “And it was just a good build-up over the season, with this being their ultimate goal. The team chemistry and environment that they had going throughout the year made the win something really special.”

The Stingers closed out a three-game tournament with a definitive 4-0 win against the Nipissing Lakers on March 27, and the team has been celebrating ever since. The golden achievement was celebrated in the National Assembly of Quebec as well as at a Montreal Canadiens match, Montreal City Hall and even a Toronto Blue Jays game. 

Putting the team first

Ryan shares that with veteran players coming back for an extra year, the team carried a larger roster than usual. This meant some of the new recruits didn’t see as much ice time as usual throughout the season.

“It was important for everybody to adopt the motto of ‘team first.’ Everyone — rookies, vets — they really bought into that,” he says. “And they knew that what they were doing, whether they were playing or not, was for the betterment of the team.”

Ryan adds that in the third period of the championship game, when it became apparent the Stingers were likely to win, those players not in the lineup suited up so that they could join the on-ice celebrations the moment the buzzer sounded.

Overcoming pandemic challenges 

After successfully pivoting to online training opportunities and at-home workout videos the year before, the online fitness programs welcomed over 400 registrants in 2021-22. And in early 2022, Recreation and Athletics was finally able to reopen some facilities to the public. Staff at Le Gym on Sir George Williams Campus were thrilled to open their doors in February and begin offering some in-person classes by March. Still, public health measures remained in place, including capacity limits and rotating training schedules. 

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