Calgary battles Montreal to maintain top spot on ‘Start the Spark’ night

CALGARY, ALTA- The two top teams in the CWHL go head to head this weekend in Calgary.  The defending Clarkson Cup Champions, Calgary Inferno, will play Les Canadiennes on home ice for the first time this season to determine the final regular season standings going into playoffs next weekend. The ‘Start the Spark’ game Saturday also aims to create awareness about youth mental health.

Both Calgary and Montreal are guaranteed to host a playoff series February 24-26, though the results of the games this weekend will confirm match-ups, against the Brampton Thunder or the Toronto Furies. Montreal was beat out of the champion spot by the Inferno in the 2015-2016 Clarkson Cup Final. Based on the two teams’ record this season, with the two previous weekend match-ups ending in a split, fans can expect nothing short of outstanding competition.

The first weekend on December 10/11, Montreal took the first game by only netting one goal from league-leading scorer Marie-Philip Poulin. The Inferno bounced back the next game putting five past goaltender Charline Labonte. Goals for the Inferno came from Sarah Davis, Brigette Lacquette, Blayre Turnbull, and a pair from Bailey Bram.

Heading into the New Year, the teams met again on January 14/15 with Montreal as the host. Game one was exciting when Montreal got out to a 3-1 lead after the first period. In the second period, it was the opposite as the Calgary Inferno put two behind goaltender Catherine Herron, and Inferno’s Lacasse only let one past her. Going into the third it was 4-3 but Jillian Saulnier scored the lone goal to tie it up for Calgary, as they went into overtime. Inferno captain Brianne Jenner scored just 2:41 into extra time and Calgary would take the game 5-4. Les Canadiennes got their revenge on Sunday as they put four goals past rookie goaltender Emerance Maschmeyer. The lone goal from the Inferno came from Iya Gavrilova while goals from Montreal were Poudrier, Poulin, and two from Bettez.

In the standings, the Calgary Inferno are ahead of Montreal by four points with three losses on the season and Montreal with four losses. It’s no surprise that the league stat lists are also dominated by the two teams. Montreal’s goaltender, Charline Labonte is first in save percentage, followed by all of Calgary’s goaltenders; Genevieve Lacasse, Emerance Maschmeyer in third and Delayne Brian in fourth. The scoring race is also tight between the two squads. Montreal has three in the top six: Marie-Philip Poulin in top spot with 36 points followed by teammate Ann-Sophie Bettez one point behind in second, Jess Jones of Brampton in third with 32 points, Caroline Ouellette in fourth with 31 points and rounding out the top six from the Inferno, Brianne Jenner with 27 and Bailey Bram with 22.

Saturday, February 18 is the ‘Start the Spark’ game for the Calgary Inferno. The Inferno and the Sheldon Kennedy Child Advocacy Centre (SKCAC) are making a tremendous difference in the lives of hundreds of youth with a mentorship program that targets vulnerable youth. ‘Start the Spark’ is an initiative created by the two organizations in 2016 provide mentorship and an avenue for youth to talk about mental health issues in their school communities.

The Inferno will be wearing limited edition purple jerseys, provided by Scotiabank to auction off in support of the “Sparks Mentorship” program at the SKCAC. The funds raised will go to continuing the youth mentorship program until the end of the school year.

Those not in attendance can still support the cause by buying ‘virtual tickets’. This campaign allows sponsors and donors to purchase tickets for others to attend the game, including youth from the mentorship program.

For more on Start the Spark: 

Please contact [email protected] Director of Communications, Sheldon Kennedy Child Advocacy Centre for virtual ticket requests.

The games this weekend are Saturday at 6:15pm and Sunday at 12:15 pm at WinSport Arena A.