The fifth annual Clarkson Cup brings with it many opportunities for history to be made. While the Montreal Stars look to become the first franchise to win three Clarkson Cups three straight season, the parity in the league only guarantees that it will be a hard-fought championship win.
While Brampton was the most penalized team league, the trio of Gillian Apps, Lori Dupuis and Jayna Hefford is capable of leading the squad to its third finals appearance in four years.
Along with an infusion of new blood, featuring Laura McIntosh, Bailey Bram and Vicki Bendus, the black and red are not a pushover. As a rookie, McIntosh finished in the Top 10 in the CWHL scoring race.
Natalie Spooner leads a revamped Toronto Furies offense. Along with fellow rookies Rebecca Johnston and Jennifer Wakefield, the three are eager to bring the city of Toronto its first hockey championship since the Toronto Marlboros claimed the Memorial Cup in 1975.
As one of the CWHL leaders in goals scored, Spooner is the engine of the Furies offense. Along with Johnston and Spooner, the trio combined for over 35 combined goals. Complemented by Mallory Deluce (the Furies leading scorer in 2011-12), the blue and white are capable of an upset.
Having won their first regular season title in CWHL history, the Boston Blades enter the season with tremendous momentum. Genevieve Lacasse sported a remarkable 13-1-0 record as the Blades goals against average was the finest in the league.
Despite Kelli Stack being lost for the season, the black and gold will rely strongly on third overall draft pick Hilary Knight to fill the gap. The leading scorer among American born players this season, Knight accumulated 32 points on the strength of 17 goals and 15 assists.
Entering the tournament as the two-time defending Clarkson Cup champions, Montreal has a skating target on its back, as The Stars stand are the team to beat. With the retirement of three leaders in the offseason (Nathalie Dery, Stephanie Denino and Kelly Sudia), the rookies on the squad may be unprepared for the pressure of winning the Clarkson.