Montreal 4, Calgary 0: Les Canadiennes Blank the Inferno

Montreal Clinches Home-Ice Advantage in Playoffs Win

Les Canadiennes clinched home-ice with the win. Photo Caitlin Yardley

Les Canadiennes were on multiple missions Saturday night at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard.

Firstly, the team wanted to secure a win to ensure they would have home-ice advantage for the opening round of the Clarkson Cup playoffs. They were also on a mission to raise awareness about breast cancer and help collect funds for the cause.

The team was successful on both fronts.

Les Canadiennes shut out the Calgary Inferno 4-0 as part of the team’s eighth annual “Pink in the Rink” game in front of a jam-packed crowd. It was a strong effort both offensively and defensively for Montreal.

“We did a good job of shutting them down, blocking shots, and hemming them in their own zone,” said defender Erin Ambrose. “When we have the puck, they obviously can’t create any offense.”

“Today was the first time in a long time we played consistently throughout the entire game,” said Canadiennes goaltender Emerance Maschmeyer. “I’m proud of my teammates and I think we played really well.”

Montreal got off a good start, exerting pressure early on the Inferno. They were rewarded with a goal before period’s end. Sarah Lefort scored her 17th goal of the season off of her own rebound, with just over 90 seconds remaining in the first period. Linemate Noemie Marin collected her first of three assists in this game on the play.

While the second period did not see any scoring, Les Canadiennes were back in the goal column early in the third. Ambrose scored her second of the year just 1:16 into the final frame, as she joined the rush. In the end, both her and the puck ended up behind the goal line.

“[Ann-Sophie Bettez] made a great play to walk on that,” said Ambrose. “The [defense] didn’t have a stick so they had to make a tough choice. I just finished what Ann-So started. It was an easy tap-in for me.”

Bettez scored Montreal’s third goal off a beautiful individual effort, breaking away from Inferno’s Jacquie Pierri to find herself alone against Inferno starting goaltender Delayne Brian.

Cathy Chartrand added another goal for good measure to round out the scoring for Montreal and for the game.

The game featured the unexpected return of Canadiennes defender and Team Canada Olympian Lauriane Rougeau. Although initially ruled out by the team for the rest of the season due to a facial injury and fatigue from a tough Olympic year, Rougeau had a change of heart.

“I was at home and didn’t have much to do,” explained Rougeau. “I said to myself, ‘Why not return to the team and help Les Canadiennes in the playoffs?’”

She continued to explain that this would be her “last time to play with my idol,” former Olympian and Canadiennes teammate Caroline Ouellette. Rougeau said, “Growing up, she’s been such a big role model for me. It might be her last season.”

Rougeau did not look out of place in her season debut with the team. She paired with Ambrose and helped keep Calgary off the scoreboard all throughout the game.

“We’ve played together at camps,” said Ambrose. “She’s such a calming presence out there. It makes my game that much easier to have someone like that around.”

Maschmeyer was also a key contributor in her team’s win. She made 17 saves to give her a 17th win on the year and sixth shutout. Maschmeyer has only allowed one goal in three games this season against her former team, stopping 68 of 69 total shots.

“I love playing against the Inferno,” said Maschmeyer. “Obviously, I know the girls on the other side. You get a little bit of bragging rights every time that you beat them.”

Les Canadiennes will wrap up their two-game set with Calgary on Sunday. Photo Caitlin Yardley
“We know how good of a goalie she is,” said Inferno forward Blayre Turnbull. “To beat any good goalie, you really need to take her eyes away. We need to get more bodies in front of her. We need better screens and bear down when we get chances to score. She’s tough to beat. We need to work hard to put the puck in the net.”

Maschmeyer made a big save at the end of the game, denying Brianne Jenner on a breakaway with just over one minute remaining in the contest. Maschmeyer was intent on not letting her former captain get the best of her and ruin her perfect night.

“That’s the best part for a goalie, when you get those opportunities to make a difference right at the end of the game,” said Maschmeyer. “I know we were up 4 goals, but in a tighter game, that could be a game-changing moment.”

Les Canadiennes’ win, coupled with a 6-4 victory for the Vanke Rays over the Kunlun Red Star, vaulted Montreal into top spot in the overall league standings.

The Inferno’s regulation loss also ensured that Montreal would have home-ice advantage for the first round of the Clarkson Cup as one of the league’s top two teams.

“We wanted to clinch home-ice advantage for playoffs,” said Marin. “I thought we all came out pretty hard today and we proved that we wanted to get it done right away.”

Playing for a Cause

As part of the team’s Pink in the Rink game, the organization honoured women affected by breast cancer before the game. The team wore custom pink jerseys during warm-ups and throughout the first period, with some players taping their sticks with pink tape to highlight the cause. The jerseys, along with various autographed collectibles, were available for purchase in a silent auction run on-site and through eBay.

“I think we’re all affected one way or another by breast cancer,” said Maschmeyer. “It’s an important game for us. You can see the energy out there was very positive from the start. It was a little emotional off the draw. We were playing for those who inspire us and those ladies that battled through that. We showed that on the ice.”

Both teams will reconvene on Sunday afternoon for the final regular season game for both teams.

Les Canadiennes need a victory or a Kunlun loss to finish first overall in the league. Maschmeyer will start in goal again for Les Canadiennes, while the Inferno are expected to counter with Lindsey Post.

The game will also mark the debut of Hilary Knight, who signed with Les Canadiennes on Thursday. The puck drops at the Bell Sports Complex at 3:30 p.m. and can be watched on Rogers Sportsnet.