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Stingers beat Blues to claim another U Sports women's hockey crown

Jessymaude Drapeau Jessymaude Drapeau - The Canadian Press

SASKATOON — The Concordia Stingers are back on the mountain top of U Sports women’s hockey.

On Sunday night at Merlis Belsher Place, the Stingers beat the Toronto Varsity Blues 3-1 in the final of the U Sports women’s hockey championship. The win marked the second time in three years the Stingers have captured the U Sports women’s hockey crown, and it is the team’s fourth U Sports women’s hockey championship win in team history.

The Stingers won the U Sports title in 2022 downing the Nipissing Lakers 4-0 in the final, when the tournament was held in Charlottetown, P.E.I. Last year, the Stingers fell 4-3 in overtime in the U Sports title game to the Mount Royal Cougars in Montreal.

“I think it is the best way to finish your career as a university athlete and as a senior,” said Stingers fifth-year right-winger Rosalie Begin-Cyr. “We have a great team, and I think it was like what we expected.

“We wanted to finish better than last year, so it was perfect.”

The Stingers got off to a hot start in Sunday’s final. Just 69 seconds into the opening frame, Stinger left-winger Emilie Lussier collected the rebound of her own shot at the left side of the Varsity Blues goal. She quickly tucked home a second shot to give her team a 1-0 lead.

At the 8:19 mark of the first period, Stingers third-year left-winger Jessymaude Drapeau skated just below the icing line at the right side of the Varsity Blues net. Drapeau, who would later be named tournament MVP, deflected the puck from that spot off the pads of Varsity Blues netminder Erica Fryer into the Toronto net to boost the Stingers lead to 2-0.

The Stingers proceeded to seal the victory going up 3-0 on a power-play goal by Begin-Cyr at the 5:10 mark of the third.

With 46.8 seconds remaining in the third, defender Emma Potter tallied for the Varsity Blues to round out the 3-1 final.

The Varsity Blues were making their first appearance in the U Sports title game since losing the 2003 championship final. Toronto went into this year’s tournament as the sixth seed. The Varsity Blues placed second in OUA East at 19-8-1 and fell in the OUA final 2-1 in overtime to the visiting Waterloo Warriors on March 9.

Varsity Blues head coach Vicky Sunohara said her players could hold their head high in reaching the title game.

“I’m really proud of our team,” said Sunohara. “We battled all season. To be able to play for a gold medal, it is pretty special for our program.”

Jordyn Verbeek stopped 19 shots to pick up the win in goal for the Stingers. Fryer turned away 22 shots for the Varsity Blues.

The Stingers entered the championship tournament as the No. 1 seed having posted a perfect 25-0 regular-season record and captured the RSEQ title. Stingers head coach Julie Chu was proud of her team’s journey in 2023-24.

“Getting to win is definitely something we don’t take for granted,” said Chu. “We know there are tremendous teams that are here at nationals.

“For us, it is a huge accomplishment. It is something that we take a lot of pride in. If we would have lost today, there is a lot of pride in that locker room and a lot of pride in the journey that we took to be able to be the team that we are today, win or lose.”

The Montreal Carabins slipped past the Warriors 2-1 after taking a tiebreaking shootout 1-0 in Sunday’s bronze-medal game.

Sunday’s consolation final saw the Canada West Conference champion and second-seeded UBC Thunderbirds down the host and eighth-seeded Saskatchewan Huskies 4-1.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 17, 2024.