By Alexander Cole
Last season, former Concordia Stingers women’s hockey head coach Les Lawton gave his team a motto to play by. The motto was simple: “Everything is earned.” When Lawton fell ill, and current head coach Julie Chu replaced him, she kept that motto going.
“[The motto] was something that was initially going to be for last season, but it’s at the heart of what we believe in as we continue to move forward,” Chu said. “Lawton is still a great mentor for myself and our entire team. We always ask him for advice and he’s still involved in our program.”
Chu, who replaced Lawton last August, has high expectations for her team this season.
Last year, the team finished the season with a record of 6-12-2, placing fourth out of five teams in the Réseau de sports étudiant de Québec division—something that Chu hopes to improve on this year.
“For our team, we’re looking to make it to our playoffs, win the RSEQ and get to Nationals,” Chu said. “We have a lot of work to do to get to that point. We have to make sure that every day at practice we step on the ice prepared to work and get better—even if it’s just a little bit each day.”
In order to succeed this year, the Stingers will have to beat teams like the Université de Montréal Carabins, who won the RSEQ division and the National Championship last year. For Chu, the Carabins are a threat, but the whole division poses a large challenge as well.
“Our conference in general is a strong one,” Chu said. “We need to allow ourselves to go through growing pains—that will kick us off in October to be successful against any team we play against, whether it’s Carleton or the Carabins.”
This past weekend, the Stingers played three exhibition games in three nights against the University of Toronto, the University of Guelph and the University of Waterloo. The Stingers defeated Toronto 2-1, beat Guelph 2-1 and lost to Waterloo 2-1.
The team will also be playing exhibition games against Clarkson University on Sept. 23, Union University on Sept. 24 and a big match-up against Les Canadiennes de Montréal on Sept. 30.
For Chu, these games are a great opportunity to see what the team needs to improve on.
“Do we want to go to every game we go to and win? Yes— we’re competitors. But the bigger picture is that we want to make sure we’re learning and growing,” Chu said. “We do a ton of video analysis, so we understand where we go wrong and where we can improve.”
Chu added that the exhibition games are also a great time to test individual players’ strengths and weaknesses, while also gauging who should get starting positions once the season starts.
“Once we get into the season, nothing is guaranteed,” Chu said. “It’s about who earns what playing time, and what position and role each player earns. It’s about how people are performing and executing, and what roles and styles fit best.”
Chu said, to earn a significant role on the team, players have to be able to learn from their mistakes and come together to work as a team
“Always giving a full effort and being great teammates is a non-negotiable,” Chu said.
The Stingers will play their first game of the regular season at home against the University of Ottawa Gee Gees on Oct. 14 at 7:30 p.m.