Marie-Philip Poulin Scores Lone Goal in 1-0 Win for Les Canadiennes at Bell Centre

Les Canadiennes Play First Game at Bell Centre in Clarkson Cup Rematch With Calgary Inferno

Julie Chu fires one at the goal. Photo Nikolas Litzenberger
The referee prepares to start the third period. Photo Nikolas Litzenberger
The puck barely slides past Caroline Ouellette’s stick in the Inferno’s crease. Photo Nikolas Litzenberger

Playing in front of 5,938 cheering spectators did little to faze Les Canadiennes. The team battled hard to defeat the reigning league champion Calgary Inferno 1-0 Saturday afternoon at the Bell Centre.

Montreal played an all around strong game from start to finish, generating multiple scoring chances while at the same time, playing a sound defensive game.

“I thought it was our best game of the year,” said Canadiennes forward Caroline Ouellette. “We created great scoring chances. I thought we were the better team on the ice.”

“It was a really great team effort today,” said team captain Marie-Philip Poulin. “All the lines had great chances. The fans gave us energy and the emotion was there. It was very exciting.”

It was fitting that it would be Poulin who scored the lone marker. Montreal’s captain took a pass from linemate Ann-Sophie Bettez in the slot before firing a clean shot past Inferno goaltender Emerance Maschmeyer at the 11:52 mark of the opening period.

Bettez’s assist on the goal was her 154th career point, tying her with Jennifer Botterill for the fourth most points in Canadian Women’s Hockey League history.

The game was marked by an incredible goaltending duel between Montreal’s Charline Labonté and the Inferno’s Maschmeyer. The two exchanged highlight-reel stops throughout the contest.

Labonté was particularly sharp with her glove hand and stopped all 25 shots she faced to record her third shutout of the season and second in as many starts. Despite her shutout, Labonté was quick to heap praise on her goaltending counterpart after the game.

“She was lights out,” said Labonté. “She is such a good kid. She was unbelievable. She’s the reason why we had such a good game to show off here at the Bell Centre. I think I’m just her biggest fan.”

The two goaltenders were teammates at the Women’s World Hockey Championships in Kamloops last spring. It was at the tournament that Maschmeyer first left her mark in international hockey.

While Canada lost the gold medal game at the hands of the Americans, Maschmeyer was strong in goal, stopping 33 shots in a 1-0 overtime loss. She is, therefore, no stranger to high-pressure contests and relished the tight-knit contest in an NHL arena.

Les Canadiennes celebrates their 1-0 win. Photo Nikolas Litzenberger

“Being a goalie, you want the games where you get the 30 plus shots and the chance to make those big saves,” said Maschmeyer. “Tonight was one of those nights. We didn’t get the win but it’s good from a goalie’s perspective.”

The game marked the first time both clubs had met since the Clarkson Cup final in March. The Inferno handily defeated Les Canadiennes 8-3 in that pivotal game at Ottawa’s Canadian Tire Centre. Montreal has its sights set on a league title this season and are using that devastating loss as fuel to their fire this year.

“We’re trying to move on,” said Labonté. “You try to forget about the Clarkson Cup final last year, but it was still in the back of my mind. I didn’t want to experience something like last year. It was a little extra motivation to come out hard.”

“In my head, it wasn’t about revenge, it was about redemption,” said Canadiennes defender Lauriane Rougeau. “They beat us in the final. We didn’t play our game and they deserved that win. This year, we want to show that we can compete with them and beat them.”

Both teams will renew hostilities Sunday afternoon with a 1:30 p.m. puck drop at Etienne-Desmarteau Arena in Rosemont. The Inferno plan on coming out strong after a disappointing result.

“It wasn’t the effort that we wanted,” said Inferno captain Brianne Jenner. “We will learn from it and go into tomorrow’s game refocused.”