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Concordia women’s hockey team roars into the playoffs

Making it to the RSEQ Finals earns the Stingers a spot at U Sports Nationals.
February 29, 2024

Chloé Gendreau plays the puck in front of the Ottawa net.

It’s one of the most well-worn sports clichés out there: one game at a time. But if you ask Concordia women’s hockey head coach Julie Chu about her team’s undefeated regular season, she’ll say the same thing.

“We try to cultivate this mindset to take everything one day at a time, one game at a time, rather than thinking about our record. It’s really helped our team be able to develop, stay focused on the moment and ready for what’s to come,” she says.

It’s a philosophy Chu hopes her team will carry with them as they head into game one of the Réseau du sport étudiant de Québec (RSEQ) finals tonight, with U Sports Nationals looming just around the corner, March 14–17 at the University of Saskatchewan. The Stingers are ranked first in all of Canada.

‘We’ve got to defend our spot’

For veteran players like Rosalie Bégin-Cyr, the memory of last year’s devastating overtime loss in the national championship still stings. “It was tough. But I think it was really the motivation for the whole year,” says the assistant captain.

She adds that the team is feeling inspired after their decisive semi-final playoff win against the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees and are confident about the matchup with the Université de Montréal. For the moment, they aren’t focusing on what will happen at nationals — just getting off to a fast start in their best-of-three series against the Carabins.

“They haven’t beaten us since the preseason. And they’ve been hungry,” rookie defensive player Leah Kosowski adds.

“We’ve had some tight games leading up to this point. They want to get to the top, so we’ve just got to defend our spot and fend them off.”

The Stingers’ key to success in playoffs, Chu believes, is the same as it was all year: offensive depth and effective special teams.

“We have a lot of players that have the ability to score, to put points up for us, to contribute on the offensive side,” she says. “Penalty kills and powerplays, meanwhile, are energy-giving. This year, we’ve done a really good job of executing both.”

As for how she gets her returning players to push through the lingering impacts of last year’s championship loss, Chu stresses that it’s about not playing afraid. “If you are afraid to make mistakes, you’re going to make more, because you give more time and space to doubt yourself. So why not play on your toes?”

A winning culture on and off the ice

Bégin-Cyr suggests that she and her teammates learned a lot from their experience last year and they’re doing their best to share that with the new recruits.

“I think we’re setting a great example for the youngest girls, and I think they’re ready,” she says. “We all know our roles.”

For Kosowski, even getting this far has been a dream come true. “It’s something that not a lot of people get to experience ever throughout their career. So, to have an undefeated season in my first year was just awesome.”

On top of having the right attitude and exceptional play on the ice, Chu attributes the team’s banner year to positive off-ice dynamics.

“We really let our players drive the voice of the team and the voice of the locker room, because they spend the most time with each other. We have a tremendous leadership group that takes a lot of pride in making an environment that is running well, where people are taken care of and there’s a lot of positive energy,” she shares.

“Something I’m proud of with this group is that we do care for one another. And whether it’s through adversity or the great moments, we see everyone finding ways to be able to pull in the same direction,” Chu adds.

“And I think that helps us be successful, whatever we face within a game or within a season.”

Get your tickets to
game one of the best-of-three RSEQ women’s hockey finals between the Concordia Stingers and the Université de Montréal Carabins — Thursday, February 29, at 7:30 p.m. at the Ed Meagher Arena (7200 Sherbrooke St. W.).

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