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Lakers lose opening game to defending gold medalists Concordia

Nipissing will move the consolation bracket with a game against STFX on Saturday

It was slated to be a tough matchup for Nipissing as the Lakers womens hockey team opened the U-Sports National Championship on Friday night against the number three seeded Concordia Stingers. But the task was made even tougher as the Lakers had to battle a wrath of bad calls from the officials right from the get-go and after finding themselves in a hole early on, they couldn't climb out of it suffering a 5-1 defeat at the hands of the defending U-Sport champions.

Special teams have been the Stingers specialty all season long. At 24.7 per cent, the Power Play has been almost unstoppable and was the best power play in the country through the 2022-23 season, scoring 24 of their 89 goals on the player advantage. The whistles were tilted heavily in their favour and the only goal they didn’t score with a power play advantage was the empty net goal at the end of the game.  

The Stingers had no problem getting their vaunted power play going against the Nipissing Lakers and they utilized their relentless attack to take a 2-0 lead in the first period.  

At 11:16 Allison Hayhurst took a penalty for body checking and about a minute in, Sandrine Veillette got her shot past Chantelle Sandquist for the opening goal.  

At 16:04 Lana Duriez made a good effort on the back check to stop a goal scoring opportunity, but in the process got called for hooking. Concordia’s Chloe Gendreau then struck 30 seconds into the power play and suddenly the Lakers were facing a two-goal deficit.  

Unfazed, the team started to pressure the Stingers and had a solid final few minutes of the opening period and headed into the first intermission with a bit of momentum on their side. At 5:46 of the second period, the Lakers solved goaltender Alice Philbert. Madison Stitt drove to the net, pushing the puck towards the right-side pad of Philbert, it deflected off the netminder, to the stick of Madison Desmerais who backhanded it towards Philbert’s blocker. Philbert got a piece of it, but it bounced over her arm and into the net to get the Lakers to within a goal.  

The Lakers were then sent to the box twice, once for goaltender interference at 9:46 and immediately after killing that one, the officials made a boarding call on Kara Den hoed at 11:58 to put the Lakers shorthanded for a fifth time.  

Concordia was able to take advantage once again with a goal by Alexandra-Anne Boyer at 13:51 giving them a 3/5 showing on the power play through two periods and a 3-1 lead going into the third.  

The Lakers did find themselves on the power play just 2:45 into the third period, but the biggest play came when Sandquist had to make a big poke check save on a shorthanded breakaway attempt by the Stingers leading scorer Emmy Fecteau.  

On the counterattack the Lakers brought the puck back down the ice and after a collision just inside the Stingers blue line, it was Chomiak being called for interference. Desmerais was called for cross-checking 30 seconds later and on the 4-on-3 power play, the Stingers struck again, moving the puck around the offensive zone until finding Fecteau wide open and she fired in the fourth power play goal of the game for Concordia, making it 4-1.  

The Stingers went 4/10 overall on their powerplay while the Lakers went 0/3. 

The Lakers will now move into the consolation bracket and play in a semi-final game on Saturday at 1 p.m. against STFX, who were the number seven seed coming into the tournament and lost 3-2 in overtime to the number two seed UBC Thunderbirds.  

Matt Sookram

About the Author: Matt Sookram

Matthew Sookram is a Canadore College graduate. He has lived and worked in North Bay since 2009 covering different beats; everything from City Council to North Bay Battalion.
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