Montreal 3, Calgary 2: Les Canadiennes Win Chairman’s Trophy
The Team Clinches its 22nd Win of the Campaign
Sarah Lefort scored the go-ahead goal for Montreal with 2:19 remaining in the third period to lead Les Canadiennes to a 3-2 win over the Calgary Inferno on Sunday afternoon at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard.
She potted home a rebound off an Ann-Sophie Bettez shot, giving her eighteen goals on the season and her team their 22nd victory of the campaign.
The win locked up the Chairman’s Trophy for Montreal as the top team in the Canadian Women’s Hockey League.“We jumped on that opportunity [to finish in first place] and we made it happen,” said Canadiennes forward Noemie Marin, who scored twice for Montreal. “It shows that we have great character on our team. It was one of our first goals, to finish first in the league, and we did that. It sets the tone for the playoffs coming next week.”
The game also marked the debut for forward Hilary Knight in a Canadiennes sweater. Although she did not pick up any points in the game, Knight was a factor on the ice, playing on both the power play and penalty killing units. At even strength, she lined up at center alongside Caroline Ouellette and Kim Deschenes. Although not accustomed to the center position, it was one Knight was willing to embrace for the betterment of the team.
“Wherever they need me, I’ll play. I haven’t played center in probably ten years. It’s an adjustment and I got to figure out where they need me. That’s why I’m here, to help them out in the best way that I can.”
“I’ve played against her way too often and she’s hurt my team way too much,” said Ouellette. “She’s incredible and such a force out there. Her shot is probably the best in the game and we saw it tonight. She had so many shots, she just missed a few times. It’s a great addition to our team.”
Knight has clearly garnered the respect of her new teammates. She did a solo lap around the ice ahead of her team during warm-ups, a move typically shown to rookies. Knight could only laugh about it afterwards.
“I knew it was coming,” said Knight. “I was like, ‘guys, I’m not a rookie.’ I’m new here so you got to embrace everything, little nuances in the locker room and stuff.”Les Canadiennes started off with a bang, scoring just 62 seconds into the game. Marin appeared to redirect an Ann-Sophie Bettez shot that beat Inferno starter Delayne Brian up high. The goal was Marin’s 132nd goal in the CWHL, breaking a tie she held with Ouellette for most career goals in the league.
“I’m honored,” said Marin. “It’s a milestone and I’m happy, but, to me, what I want is my fifth Clarkson Cup. That’s what I keep track of.”
“Noemie Marin is one of the best goal scorers you will ever find,” said Ouellette. “Unfortunately, that wasn’t my best asset when I was at the top of my game. I knew that was going to happen. Why not get passed by my best friend? She’s the heart of our team and a great leader for us.”
Brianne Jenner would tie the game before the period was over. She took a pass down low from Taryn Baumgardt before cutting to the front of the net, beating Canadiennes starter Emerance Maschmeyer.
Dakota Woodworth gave Calgary the lead late in the second period, but the goal was answered quickly by Marin on the power play. With just 41 seconds left in the period, Canadiennes defender Erin Ambrose made a perfect pass on the tape of Marin’s stick, who deposited the puck into a gaping net to give her 133 career goals.
Lefort would go on to score the lone goal of the third in the late goings to secure the win for Montreal.
Les Canadiennes will now get set to host the fourth-seeded Markham Thunder in a best-of-3 playoff series next weekend in Montreal. Les Canadiennes beat the Thunder in all five regular-season matchups this season. They, nevertheless, recognize the danger the Thunder pose to them on their way to a repeat Clarkson Cup title.
“We know it’s a great rivalry with them,” said Ouellette. “They’re always physical games and intense back-and-forth. They have a lot of offensive power and they are solid defensively. It’s always a war out there when we play them.”
“We don’t expect anything less from them than being physical and ready to compete and battle,” said Marin. “We know what to expect from them. It won’t be a surprise when the puck drops on Friday.”
The opening game of the series will be played in Montreal on Friday night. The location of the series has yet to be announced.