One of the most underrated players in hockey today, Kelley Steadman, emerged as the hero of the 2013 Clarkson Cup.
Her natural hat trick led the Boston Blades to its first ever Clarkson Cup championship as the Blades scored four goals on the power play to prevail. Playing against the two-time defending Clarkson Cup champion Montreal Stars, the level of intensity was high.
For the first time in Cup history, the top two teams in the regular season standings were playing each other for the title. In addition, the 2013 Clarkson Cup marked the first time that the starting goaltenders were both rookies.
The starting lineup for the Stars included Charline Labonte, Cathy Chartrand, Carly Dupont-Hill, Emmanuelle Blais, Dominique Thibault and Caroline Ouellette.
The Blades countered with Genevieve Lacasse, Caitlin Cahow, Gigi Marvin, Kate Buesser, Meghan Duggan and Hilary Knight.
Meghan Agosta-Marciano, the first woman to claim back-to-back Angela James Bowls, had the first scoring chance of the contest. With 17:51 remaining, she released a laser-like shot and Lacasse only caught part of the puck so the disc bounced behind her, but it missed the net.
Boston retaliated with Cahow and Katerina Mrazova peppering Labonte with shots. Early on, the contest was a defensive stalemate as there were few opportunities to create momentum. Kelley Steadman released a slapshot that beat Labonte, but went left and trickled past the goalpost.
Eventually, the Blades pressure on Montreal would result in a goal.
Whitney Naslund passed to Kacey Bellamy. Her slapshot in heavy traffic would be tipped in by Jen Schoullis for the first goal of the game. It would mark the first goal that Montreal allowed during the Clarkson Cup playoffs.
Despite Montreal’s best efforts, they struggled to contain Boston’s offensive attack.
Alternate captain Meghan Duggan shot in heavy traffic on the Montreal net. Marvin hit a slap shot that went wide as they continued to apply pressure.
On the other side of the frozen perimeter, Genevieve Lacasse was equally impressive.
With 4:09 remaining, Kacey Bellamy was called for a penalty. Her poise between the pipes neutralized Montreal’s power play as the Stars struggled to build momentum. While Steadman tried to add to Boston’s lead before the period expired, the score stood at 1-0 in Boston’s favor.
In the first four minutes of the second stanza, both clubs would score goals as the intensity built. Bellamy would shoot on Labonte, but Schoullis was there to tuck the rebound as the Blades went ahead by a 2-0 tally.
Although she was shadowed, Agosta-Marciano blasted a wrist shot past Lacasse with 16:13 remaining to place Montreal on the scoresheet.
With the score at 2-1, Montreal tried to get back into the game.
The line of Haley Irwin, Sarah Vaillancourt and Carolyne Prevost tried valiantly to tie the score. Another line featuring Dominique Thibault, Caroline Ouellette and Emmanuelle Blais persistently added pressure in the Blades defensive zone.
Eventually, their persistence would pay dividends as Thibault buried a shot past Lacasse to tie the score. Shooting from the faceoff circle in Boston’s zone to the left of Lacasse, a jubilant Thibault tied the game.
After the score was tied, both clubs encountered penalty trouble. With heavy traffic in Montreal’s crease, the Blades nearly grabbed the lead again but the net was knocked off. With a pile of players in the crease, Kelley Steadman was called for a penalty.
Just 56 seconds later, Montreal’s alternate captain Catherine Ward would be called for a penalty. Having collided with a Boston player near the Stars bench, Ward was visibly upset when she was called for the penalty.
With Ward in the penalty box, Boston capitalized.
Cahow released a backhand shot that did not find its way in the Stars net. Steadman was there to tuck in the rebound. With the Blades players on the bench roaring in approval, Cahow quickly skated towards Steadman with her arms raised in the air.
Agosta-Marciano attempted to get Montreal back in the game.
She would intercept a pass from Cahow, but was unable to capitalize. Ann-Sophie Bettez, the 2013 CWHL Rookie of the Year would pass to Vinny Davidson. Shooting from close range, her shot was blocked as Lacasse displayed tremendous grace under pressure.
Despite Montreal’s best efforts, they were stifled by Boston’s league-best defense. Haley Irwin stripped a Boston player of the puck but her shot was blocked. Carly Dupont-Hill of the Stars released a slapshot that was blocked by Duggan.
With one minute remaining in the second frame, Boston tried to add to its lead.
With Ann-Sophie Bettez in the penalty box, the Blades were on a power play. Bellamy shot on Labonte, but her shot was denied. As time wound down, Duggan actually hit the post and the echo from the shot could be heard throughout the arena as the buzzer signaled the end of the period.
Heading into the final frame, Montreal faced a 3-2 deficit. With Labonte having neutralized the Blades power play, the priority was to tie the score. Stars defender Julie Chu caught a slapshot by Steadman with her right hand as she tried to raise the Stars spirits.
Thibault led the charge for Montreal but her shot was blocked by Cahow. Her line mate Ouellette released a powerful shot that Lacasse struggled with. While it looked like the puck might beat Lacasse, the bounces were not in Montreal’s favor.
As the period progressed, the Stars encountered penalty problems.
Cathy Chartrand, the CWHL’s leading scorer among defenders, was called for tripping with 13:15 left.
Despite being shorthanded, Labonte was superlative between the pipes on the penalty kill. She made a sparkling glove save on Bellamy. This was followed by Meghan Duggan weaving through traffic and having her wrist shot denied by Labonte.
Catherine Ward tried to make something happen as she released a cross-ice pass to Davidson. Her shot at close range was saved by Lacasse as she played with a dogged determination to not allow another goal.
With 9:17 remaining in the game, Montreal was the recipient of a five-on-three power play. Jen Schoullis had already been serving a penalty when Kate Buesser was also called for a penalty. Ouellette released a powerful shot that was saved by Lacasse.
Afterwards, there was heavy traffic in the Blades crease as Lacasse was on her back. As the Stars could not take advantage, it was testament to the Blades dominant defense. Another Stars shot, this was one by Cathy Chartrand was also denied a few seconds later. Boston had successfully denied the Stars with their two player advantage.
Haley Irwin was called for two penalties with 6:38 remaining in the period. The first penalty was for high sticking, and the second was for roughing after the whistle. The total of four penalty minutes placed the Stars in penalty kill mode, while creating a sense of desperation among the Stars.
With only 16 seconds left on the Blades power play, Steadman scored on Labonte to double the Blades lead to a 2 goal advantage. Just 22 seconds after Steadman’s goals, the Blades gained another power play opportunity.
Ann-Sophie Bettez was called for tripping.
During the regular season, Bettez only served two penalty minutes. In the Clarkson Cup final, she would end up serving four penalty minutes overall.
The Stars vacated the net in favor of an extra attacker with one minute remaining.
Despite their best efforts, Steadman would take advantage of the empty net for her third consecutive goal of the game, giving her a natural hat trick. For her efforts, she would be named the First Star of the Game as the Blades prevailed by a 5-2 score.
Caroline Ouellette of Montreal would be named the Second Star, while Boston’s remarkable netminder Genevieve Lacasse was Third Star, respectively. Montreal’s Catherine Ward was named Most Valuable Player of the Clarkson Cup playoffs
The Boston Blades’ 2013 Clarkson Cup championship victory is historic on various levels.
While the Minnesota Whitecaps were the first American franchise to win the Cup in 2010, they were from the Western Women’s Hockey League.
The Blades are the first American-based franchise from the CWHL to claim the title.
Anne Schleper, along with Jen Schoullis, helped the Minnesota Golden Gophers win the NCAA Frozen Four in 2012. Schleper could not help but contain her happiness about winning another coveted championship in 2013.
“It is a lot of fun.”
Fellow Golden Gophers alumni Gigi Marvin was beaming over her club’s victory. “Any win is amazing. It goes back to every game growing up. This is more than just about having our names etched on the Cup. The Lord blessed me and this is all for his glory.”
With the Minnesota Golden Gophers enjoying their own historic weekend at the Frozen Four, Marvin was one of several Gophers alumni supporting her team, “It was great that Amanda Kessel won the Patty Kazmaier. We are cheering for them (to win).”
Hailing from the Czech Republic, Katerina Mrazova became the first European player in women’s hockey history to win the Clarkson Cup. “This is a dream come true,” she exclaimed.
Blades veteran defender (and Yale Bulldogs assistant coach) Jessica Koizumi summed up the victory with a perfect statement, “It’s exciting that we’re making history,”
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”