Markham 2, Montreal 1 (OT): Thunder Take Playoff Opener

Montreal Faces Must-Win Game Two on Saturday Night

Les Canadiennes’ season will be on the line tonight in game two. File Photo Daren Zomerman

Jamie Lee Rattray scored on a short-handed breakaway five minutes into overtime to lead the Markham Thunder to a 2-1 win over Les Canadiennes Friday night at Arena Michel-Normandin.

The win gives Markham a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three semifinal playoff series.

“We were on our heels, especially in the last ten minutes of the second period,” said Canadiennes head coach Dany Brunet. “Markham had a higher compete level than we did. You can’t afford to lose 10-15 minutes in a 60-minute game. At the end of the day, it catches up with you.”

“We let off of the gas pedal,” said Canadiennes goaltender Emerance Maschmeyer. “We started strong. In the second period, we kind of had a little bit of a lull. We weren’t really moving our feet. We had some moments in the third, but I think it’s just a matter of effort.”

Rattray scored the game-winner despite her team being down a player. Forward Kristen Richards had been called for elbowing in the early goings of the overtime period. Rattray skated in alone against Maschmeyer and beat her to the backhand. It was the second breakaway by the Thunder on that penalty kill. Taylor Woods had a chance to end it just moments earlier, but Maschmeyer stood tall.

“I had just come off another [penalty kill],” said Rattray. “I hopped on quick, kind of looked up and saw that I had a little more room than I thought. I turned it on as much as I can and it’s kind of a blur after that. I tried my best to beat her to the other side and luckily it went in.”

“We are missing structure in our power-play,” said Brunet. “If you are on the power-play and you don’t compete, you can put eight players on the ice and it won’t matter.”

The game was a goaltending dual between Thunder starter Erica Howe and Maschmeyer. Both goalies made some big stops to keep the game scoreless through the first half of the game. Howe was solid, making notable saves against Canadiennes forwards Caroline Ouellette, Sarah Lefort and Hilary Knight. Maschmeyer was also up to the task, frustrating Laura Stacey and Laura McIntosh, among others, in the opening frame.

Markham finally broke the stalemate midway through the second period. Nicole Kosta took a pass from McIntosh in the slot, wristing it past Maschmeyer to give the Thunder a 1-0 lead.

Maschmeyer made 29 saves and was awarded the game’s third star. She knew from the start she was in for a tough battle between the pipes, given the two team’s close games throughout the regular season. All 5 match-ups ended in overtime or a shootout.

“We tend to have close and low-scoring games against Markham,” said Maschmeyer. “I know how [Erica Howe] is a great goalie at the other end. It always seems to be a goalie battle.”

“Without Emerance Maschmeyer, especially in that second period, instead of it being 1-0, it could have easily been 3-0,” said Brunet. “She gave us a chance to get back into the game.”

Les Canadiennes did respond before the horn sounded to end the second period, generating multiple scoring chances in the final minute, but to no avail.

Les Canadiennes were rewarded for their persistence 3:12 into the third period. Marion Allemoz’s shot was blocked by Howe, but the rebound came to Emmanuelle Blais who beat Howe to tie the game at one.

The Thunder came close to re-taking the lead moments later, but the puck would not cooperate, passing through the blue paint and grazing the post to the right of Maschmeyer. Les Canadiennes had an opportunity to win it late in the third when Kosta was called for tripping, but could not capitalize.

Maschmeyer is confident in her team’s ability to rebound, even offering a guarantee that it would be her team coming out victorious on Saturday.

“I think tomorrow we have a lot to prove,” said Maschmeyer. “We didn’t play consistently tonight like we did last weekend [against the Calgary Inferno]. We need to feed off of what we had going last week and take it one game at a time. That’s all we can do.”

“We have to learn from tonight,” said Brunet. “What happened today is the message. We know they are a physical team. We saw proof of it today. I think the players understand, it’s up to us to raise our compete level.”

Les Canadiennes face a must-win situation in game two of the series, Saturday night at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard. Les Canadiennes will welcome back Noemie Marin and Karell Emard into their line-up. Marin was coaching the John-Abbott Islanders to victory against St. Laurent in a pivotal quarter-final playoff game. Meanwhile, Emard was suspended one game by the Canadian Women’s Hockey League for an elbow to the head of an Inferno opponent during last Sunday’s regular season finale.

Maschmeyer will get the start in goal once again for Montreal. The game can be streamed live on The puck drops at 7:30 PM.