Caroline Ouellette Collects 300th Point in Les Canadiennes’ 5-3 loss to the Inferno
Calgary And Montreal Split Historic Weekend Series
Scoring her 300th career point at the Bell Centre would have been special for Canadiennes forward Caroline Ouellette. She grew up idolizing the Montreal Canadiens and dreamed of one day playing a professional hockey game on that ice. However, hitting her milestone on a rink named for her in the borough where she grew up wasn’t bad either.
“It was very unique and special,” said Ouellette after her team’s 5-3 loss to the Calgary Inferno on Sunday afternoon on the Caroline Ouellette rink in Centre Etienne-Desmarteau. “I’m glad that I got it here and that I got it over with. It doesn’t weigh any more on the team. It’s special to share it with all my teammates.”
“We actually wanted to get her to 300 yesterday,” said Les Canadiennes’ Ann-Sophie Bettez. “It’s a great honour to have that happen on her own ice. I’m really thrilled for her.”
The pivotal point came halfway through the first period. Already down a goal to Calgary’s Bailey Bram, Les Canadiennes responded on a five-on-three power play. Ouellette, playing the point, fed the puck cross-ice to Marie-Philip Poulin. She passed down low to Bettez, whose shot managed to trickle past Inferno goaltender Genevieve Lacasse. Poulin was quick to retrieve the puck for her friend and teammate. The puck was taped up and on it was inscribed: “the first to reach 300.”
Ouellette was happy that her parents were there to witness the historic point because she knows the end of her illustrious career is near.
“It’s been a great journey,” said Ouellette. “I’ve loved every moment of it, inside and out. I still do. It’s hard to be getting old and getting to the point where you start to think about transitioning out but it’s going to be coming soon, unfortunately.”
Despite Ouellette’s exploits, there was still a game to be played. Blayre Turnbull gave the visitors the lead before the first frame would come to a close.
The second period fell largely in favour of the Inferno. Montreal did tie the game with a clean point shot by Lauriane Rougeau on a delayed penalty, while goaltender Charline Labonté was pulled for an extra attacker. However, celebrations were short-lived.
Bram scored her second of the afternoon at 13:15 of the second period, followed by a point shot goal by defender Brigette Lacquette.
“Unfortunately, today we had some really bad breakdowns,” said Ouellette. “I think it was a little bit of turnovers and mental mistakes that led to goals. They have so much talent that they are going to capitalize if you give them too much.”
Despite an early goal by Calgary’s Sarah Davis just 1:14 into the third period, Les Canadiennes did not back down. Karell Emard scored just over two minutes later to make the score 5-3. From there, Montreal squandered high-quality scoring chances and spent long stretches in the opposing end—all for naught.
“We battled so hard in the third,” said Ouellette. “We never gave up. We created so many chances. I had the puck on my stick a couple times and if I put it away, it could be a different game.”
The game was also marked by physical play between the rival teams. The Inferno’s Hayleigh Cudmore and Montreal’s Sarah Lefort were each given 12 minutes of penalties for head contact midway through the second period.
Montreal’s Kim Deschênes was also on the receiving end of a hard hit from Lacquette just as the second period was coming to an end. Les Canadiennes had no problem with the rough play.
“We have to expect that against teams like this, where most of the players are playing in the national team,” said Bettez. “That’s what they want over there. As long as it’s clean, it’s fair game. You have to keep your head up and be able to step up for that.”
“It wasn’t dirty, it was physical,” said Ouellette. “We went hard after one another. That made for two good hockey games.”
Thanks to the weekend split, Montreal remain atop the Canadian Women’s Hockey League standings with 21 points, to Calgary’s 20. The Inferno have two more games to play than Montreal, giving them an advantage. Four games remain between the two clubs before the regular season ends, two in Montreal and two in Calgary. The Inferno understand how important they will be.
“They are going to be crucial, especially if we wind up being tied for first,” said Inferno head coach Scott Reid. “Every game in this league is important. We have some history now with Montreal. We have to be able to bring our A game or we aren’t going to win.”
Les Canadiennes now have three weeks off in their schedule before returning to action on Jan. 7 against the Blades in Boston.