In a meeting of the two best women’s hockey teams in Montreal, the CWHL’s Montreal Stars (the 2012 Clarkson Cup champions) and RSEQ’s McGill Martlets (the 2011 CIS National Champions) faced off at McConnell Arena.
McGill would have the first scoring chance of the game. Swift skating Leslie Oles could not score on a breakaway past Kim St. Pierre, while Erika Pyke missed an open net. Adrienne Crampton tried to give McGill the opening lead of the game, but her wicked slap shot struck a McGill teammate in the face mask.
It would be the Stars that would open the scoring as alternate captain Caroline Ouellette fired a slap shot past McGill's Andrea Weckman at the 14:43 mark of the period. McGill tried aggressively to even the score, but were continuously denied by St. Pierre.
As the period progressed, the physical tone of the game increased. Gabrielle Davidson of McGill played very tough in the corners as she tussled with Stars alternate captain Noemie Marin. Oles and Stars captain Lisa-Marie Breton (both wearing No. 4) knocked each other down, with Oles crashing into the boards. North Dakota alumni Sara Dagenais-Everell and former McGill star Vinny Davidson went into the corners for the Stars, as they helped preserve the 1-0 lead at the end of the first.
The second period saw a change of netminders. McGill alumni Charline Labonte replaced St. Pierre, while Taylor Salisbury stood between the pipes for McGill. Although Melodie Daoust tried valiantly to kick start the Martlets offense, the squad could not find a way to put the puck into the Stars net.
Caroline Ouellette tried to add to the Stars lead, but her shot went wide and Noemie Marin missed an open net.
From there, the Martlets displayed great skills as Darragh Hamilton and Brittney Fouracres both stripped the puck from unsuspecting Stars. With 10:09 left in the second, Daoust would score the nicest goal of the contest. She executed a spin move at high speed and buried the puck past Labonte for an unassisted tally.
Despite an increase in physical play from the Stars, McGill persevered and managed to get the lead. With increased pressure on Labonte, Gabrielle Davidson scored on an open net, with the assist going to Logan Murray. A key aspect in the game was the resilience of McGill being able to withstand the Stars' physical play while continuing to work hard and create scoring chances.
The final play of the second period belonged to the Stars. Former McGill player Ann-Sophie Bettez stole the puck from blueliner Stacie Tardif. She had Taylor Salisbury beaten on a breakaway but the puck hit the post. For a few seconds, the puck lay in front of the post. Salisbury managed to leap on top of the puck before any Stars players could pounce on the rebound.
In the final period of the contest, freshman goalie Taylor Hough replaced Salisbury. The freshman would be tested often as she nearly allowed a goal to defender Carly Dupont-Hill. A few minutes later, Caroline Ouellette was behind Hough’s net. Despite pressure by McGill’s defense, Ouellette passed the puck to Jesse Scanzano, who could not score.
Eventually, Hough relented to the Stars pressure as Emmanuelle Blais and Ann-Sophie Bettez assisted on the game-tying goal by Carly Dupont-Hill, who fired a slap shot from the blue line.
The Martlets tried to get the go-ahead goal. Daoust was knocked down in front of the Stars net, but outstretched her arm and with one hand on the stick, nearly putting the puck past Labonte. In another play, Daoust put her superlative skills on display as she deked a Stars player, and passed the puck in another strong scoring opportunity.
On another Martlets scoring opportunity, Logan Murray was knocked down but still managed to get the shot on Labonte. The Martlets were valiant throughout the third frame.
As the period approached the final minutes, the Stars maintained their composure. Gabrielle Davidson was called for a roughing penalty on Caroline Ouellette, and said penalty turned the tide.
Although Adrienne Crampton and Brittney Fouracres blocked shots, the Stars scored with 1:36 left. The amazing Ann-Sophie Bettez scored, as assists were credited to Ouellette and Dupont-Hill. With the Martlets pulling the goaltender for an extra attacker, dangerous Dominique Thibault capitalized on the opportunity to score an empty net goal to provide the Stars with their fourth goal.
“The game was good. It was my first time (at McGill) playing on the other side. It was weird at first and I had to get adjusted. It is hard to get back in game shape, but our team finished strong. There are things to improve on,” said Bettez. Carly Dupont-Hill, who assisted on the game-winning goal by Bettez added, “We stepped up and worked hard. It was fun to play against them.”
Alyssa Cecere, a McGill alumni. stated, “It was nice coming back home. There is always a great atmosphere. Nine of us (on the Stars) played at McGIll. It was an energetic game. McGill played hard and it was exciting to come back.”
Martlets player Leslie Oles competed for the Stars as a 17-year-old in the CWHL inaugural season of 2007-08. Along with Bianca Della Porta and Melodie Daoust, she was one of three former Stars that played for McGill in the contest.
“It was kind of strange. In playing my old team, there were a lot of old teammates from McGill. So many players on the Stars are ex-Martlets.”
McGill superstar Melodie Daoust remarked, “There was a lot of character tonight. I think we played good in the offensive zone. The team really competed. We were really good, really fast. Every line showed up tonight and that made a big difference in the game.”
All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated.