Clarkson Cup: A Cinderella Story Falls Short

Calgary Inferno Dominate Montreal in 8-3 in CWHL Championship Game

  • Calgary Inferno players lifting the Clarkson Cup Courtesy Chris Tanouye

  • The Calgary Inferno scored early and often as they defeated the Montreal Canadiennes 8-3 in the Canadian Women’s Hockey League Clarkson Cup championship game. Courtesy Chris Tanouye

  • The Calgary Inferno scored early and often as they defeated the Montreal Canadiennes 8-3 in the Canadian Women’s Hockey League Clarkson Cup championship game. Courtesy Chris Tanouye

The Calgary Inferno scored early and often as they defeated the Montreal Canadiennes 8-3 in the Canadian Women’s Hockey League Clarkson Cup championship game at Ottawa’s Canadian Tire Centre Sunday afternoon.

Canadian national team veteran Rebecca Johnston, who missed the majority of the regular season with an injury, and Calgary captain Brianne Jenner each paced the Inferno with two goals and one assist.

Rookie forward Blayre Turnbull, veteran Hayley Wickenheiser, and forward Jessica Campbell also joined the multi-point club for Calgary.

The Canadiennes got off to a sluggish start and had multiple defensive breakdowns throughout the game, which ultimately resulted in their defeat.

“It was a perfect season with a nightmare at the end,” said Canadiennes forward Caroline Ouellette. “[Calgary] has a lot of talent and a lot of speed. They put a lot of pressure on us and we were sort of on our heels for the first period.”

“We knew they had a great team,” said Montreal forward Marie-Philip Poulin. “They had their chances and they put it in. In the championship game, to lose 8-3, it’s kind of shocking. We still don’t really know what happened.”

Canadiennes goaltender Charline Labonte, too, had a hard time comprehending the outcome of the game.

“This was a tough one,” admitted Labonte. “It doesn’t reflect the season that we had. It’s going to be a tough one to swallow and will take time to put it behind us.”

Inferno netminder Delayne Brian was also solid in goal, making 38 saves in the contest. Brian also earned the game’s first star as well as playoff MVP honours.

“She had a great game and certainly deserved MVP honors,” said Ouellette. “She was very confident and made the saves look easy. We made her look good by not getting enough traffic in front of her but she was very solid and was one of the best players on the ice.”

Despite only mustering 26 shots on the opposing net to the Canadiennes’ 41, Calgary made sure to capitalize on their scoring chances, ultimately leading to their success. The Inferno players were proud of the road taken to the title.

“We knew we had a good team all year long,” said Wickenheiser. “It was about learning how to win and to play the right way. It was a decisive win for us. It wasn’t really close and we dominated and that is the potential that I saw in this team all year long.”

“We are a team that really peaked at the end of the year,” said Inferno captain Brianne Jenner. “We have been playing great hockey, especially in the last months of the season. We have gotten better and better. It’s pretty amazing that we could get that win against such a great team.”

It was the Inferno that struck first. Inferno forward Rebecca Johnston potted home the rebound of linemate Brianne Jenner’s shot to give Calgary an early 1-0 lead just minutes into the game.

The Canadiennes responded on their first power play opportunity. CWHL leading scorer Marie-Philip Poulin directed a backhander towards the Inferno net which trickled through Calgary netminder Delayne Brian.

The Inferno increased their lead to 3-1 thanks to Jessica Campbell. Sarah Davis cut through the middle of the ice and took a shot which was initially stopped by Labonte, but Campbell was on the doorstep to convert on the rebound attempt.

The damage would only increase when Blayre Turnbull managed to break free from Montreal defenders and sneak a shot through the five-hole of Labonte.

Noemie Marin would score to cut Montreal’s deficit to three goals, but any hope of life was immediately extinguished. Wickenheiser feathered a beautiful pass to Turnbull, who made no mistake, connecting on a clean wrister past a helpless Labonte to make it 5-2.

Campbell and Johnston would add subsequent markers to make it 7-2 in the third period and Kim Deschenes scored for Montreal in the latter stages of the third period.

Canadiennes head coach Dany Brunet to pull Labonte with 5:54 remaining but it was too little too late for any hope of a comeback.

While Labonte, who gave up seven goals on 25 shots in the loss, was categorical on her performance. However, her teammates and head coach were quick to deflect the blame away from their Olympic netminder.

“As a goalie, your job is to stop the puck and that is something that I didn’t do today,” said Labonte. “I take responsibility for that game. In the final, it is normally a goalie that makes the difference and to be honest, Brian was the best goaltender on the ice today. ”

“We can’t point the blame at one single player on our team,” said Brunet. “ We had a good season and everybody did their best, which is what matters. Unfortunately, the results didn’t go our way.”

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