Canadiennes 2, Thunder 1: Montreal Pulls Off a Win in Annual Charity Game
Pink in the Rink Game Raises Funds for MUHC Breast Clinic
Fans gathered at Place Bell on Saturday night to see Les Canadiennes take on the Markham Thunder for the ninth annual Pink in the Rink fundraiser game.
Over the course of the last nine years, the event and Les Canadiennes players have raised over $100,000 for the Wellness Program of the Breast Clinic at the McGill University Health Centre, with the ninth edition raising over $16, 000.
The event was kicked off with a rendition of the national anthem, sung by breast cancer survivor and spokesperson for the Quebec Breast Cancer Foundations Ride des filles—an annual motorcycle ride to raise funds for cancer research—Lulu Hugues.
Throughout the game, fans were encouraged to bid in a silent auction for the players’ game-worn jerseys and other memorabilia in order to raise more money for the cause.
With all this excitement and emotion in the pregame ceremonies, it was no wonder Les Canadiennes didn’t look as strong as they should have in the first frame.
“I don’t think it was our best first period,” said captain Marie-Philip Poulin. “I think it’s an event that means a lot to us, that year after year we want to support and I think we wanted to do too much but that we were able to come back to our game plan in the second.”
All throughout the first period, Les Canadiennes looked a little bit shaken. Despite this though, they managed to keep the Thunder off the scoreboard, and the score tied at zero thanks to some key saves by goaltender Emerance Maschmeyer.
The first intermission meant a return to the game plan for Les Canadiennes, who looked much more solid coming into the second period. Passes connected and the team was strong on offence, forcing Markham goaltender Erica Howe to work to keep pucks out.
Markham was first on the board, as Victoria Bach put one past Maschmeyer with the help of Laura Stacey.
It wasn’t long before Les Canadiennes tied it up though, with Melodie Daoust—who recently slotted back into the lineup after an injury—tipped in a Poulin slap shot from the point on the powerplay.With just over 30 seconds remaining in the second, Jillian Saulnier got the go ahead goal, her eleventh of the season to put her team up 2-1 over the Thunder.
The third period was truly a goalie battle. Both Maschmeyer and Howe put up stellar performances, keeping the score right where it was. The final score as the seconds counted down to the end of the third period: 2-1 in favour of Les Canadiennes.
“I think it was a good old fashioned goalie battle, both goalies made some incredible saves,” said head coach Caroline Ouellette.
“We wanted to simplify the game, I think we tried some passes that were maybe a little too complicated but look at the second goal, it was very simple. It was really fast, and that’s our identity. To play with speed and to use our speed.”
Les Canadiennes have now clinched the second seed going into the playoffs, and depending on how things go in Sunday’s rematch with the Thunder and results across the league, they’re likely to meet the Thunder in the first round of the playoffs.
By clinching second, this also means home ice advantage no matter which team they meet in the series. Playoff games are set for March 8, 9 and 10 (as needed). The opening game of the series will be played out at Place Bell with the remaining two scheduled at Complexe Bell in Brossard.
This leaves the team with a little over two weeks to prepare for the playoffs, something coach Caroline Ouellette believes will be beneficial to the team.
“It’s a great thing, we’re going to use that [time] to really work on details for our power plays and our penalty kill and keep growing the chemistry that we have between our lines and our defensive pairings,” said Ouellette.
“We want to keep the energy high and make sure the girls keep having fun together. I love the energy that I feel in that locker room so there’s not much to change it’s about just continuing what we’ve been doing.”