By Alexander Cole
When the Concordia Stingers hockey team took on the McGill Redmen in the 29th annual Corey Cup at Ed Meagher Arena on Feb. 12, the Stingers were perceived as the underdogs.The Redmen came into the game ranked second in the East Division while the Stingers were ranked seventh. However, the Stingers came away with a 4-2 victory, which brought the Concordia crowd to their feet.
The first-star in that game was rookie goaltender Miguel Sullivan, who stopped 25 of the 27 shots he faced against a high-power McGill squad. For Sullivan, this victory was a major step for him when it came to starting in the playoffs.
“That last game against McGill was obviously a huge confidence boost,” Sullivan said. “Going into the playoffs playing them—I knew as a team we could beat them.”
While Sullivan did end up getting the start over goaltender Robin Billingham, Sullivan knew the job could have gone to anyone.
“[Billingham’s] a very good goalie,” Sullivan said. “It was up in the air [who would start] but it just happened that I had played a good game right before playoffs so I ended up with the start.”
In their playoff series against the Redmen, the Stingers lost 9-2 in game one, with Sullivan being pulled after the seventh goal. However, Stingers coach Marc-André Element stuck with Sullivan in game two, where the Stingers eventually lost in overtime, 4-3. In Sullivan’s eyes, being able to play in game two despite the rough loss in game one was great for his confidence. Getting the chance to play in the playoffs was an experience that Sullivan wasn’t expecting.
“I’m one of the younger goalies in the CIS and my experience is definitely more than what I was hoping for,” Sullivan said. “I came into training camp last minute and they barely knew who I was. Being able to play a lot of games and even the playoffs is obviously a huge boost for me and is helping me grow as a player and as a person.”
Before joining the Stingers this season, Sullivan played for the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. Sullivan, who comes from the small fishing town of Petit-de-Grat, N.S., said that he enjoyed being able to play so close to his hometown.
Prior to joining the Screaming Eagles for the 2014-2015 season, Sullivan played for the Acadie-Bathurst Titans, but was traded to Cape Breton in the off-season.
For Sullivan, transitioning from small town junior hockey to university-level hockey has had its ups and downs, especially when it came to his education.
“Hockey wise, there is obviously a jump but I didn’t find it too dramatic,” Sullivan said. “When you start having to look at putting school on the same level as hockey, for a lot of people that is a struggle. School used to come second even though it shouldn’t have.”
“Having to come into the CIS, the biggest impact on a player’s life is trying to perform well on both the ice and in the classroom,” said Sullivan.
Sullivan has not yet declared a major and is currently taking science classes. The Stingers goaltender said that he would like to do a major in biology. Although, as someone who had concentrated much of his teen years on performing well on the ice, Sullivan admitted that he hasn’t had much time to figure out what he wants to do as a career.
During the off-season, Sullivan plans to go back home and make some money lobster fishing. After working for a few months, Sullivan will be coming back to Montreal at the beginning of August to start training camp with the Stingers.
As of right now, it is uncertain whether or not coach Element will be coming back to the team which could have an effect on who the starter will be next year. Regardless of who the coach is, Sullivan knows that he is going to have to work hard to become the starter.
“Whether [coach Element] is here or not, my role doesn’t change,” Sullivan said. “I still have to come in and prove myself in training camp next year. Whether it’s Billingham or someone else, they’re going to be knocking at the door trying to take the job.”
Moving forward, the Stingers will be without captain Olivier Hinse and assistant captain Jessyko Bernard, who combined for 28 goals during the season. The team, which is mainly comprised of first and second-year players which according to Sullivan, is nice because the team will have the chance to to grow together over the next four years.
“When guys play together for [four years], you create a pretty strong bond,” Sullivan said. “Some guys are going to have to take bigger leadership roles but the leaders are in the room so I’m not worried.”
Before graduating from Concordia and moving on from the Stingers, Sullivan’s main goal is to win a national title.
“Right now I have my sights set on winning at least one nation title, if not more,” said Sullivan.
As a teenager, Sullivan’s goal was to be able to make a living out of hockey and to go pro. However, in recent year’s his priorities have shifted to getting an education out of hockey. While education is currently on his mind, Sullivan admitted that he would still like to go pro one day and live out his childhood dream.
“Hopefully I will get the chance to play pro at some point, whether it’s in North America or Europe or wherever,” said Sullivan. “To be able to play hockey for a living when you think about it, it’s not a job, it’s something that I love doing. If I could get the chance to play hockey every day, I’ll take it.”