Calgary, Alta (Mar.11) – The Inferno battled hard but were swept by Montreal in their final two games of the season. Calgary was shutout 4-0 on Saturday and dropped a hard fought 3-2 decision to Les Canadiennes on Sunday. With those losses, Calgary finishes the regular season in third place, with 38 points (17-7-1-3).
The playoffs get underway next weekend with games on March 16, 17, and a third game on the 18 if a deciding game is needed. Calgary will be on the road for the first round of the playoffs, looking to make the Clarkson Cup final for a third year in a row. Standing in their way is a first-round matchup against the Kunlun Red Star, who finished their inaugural season in the CWHL in second place. Kunlun will be the home team, but the series will be played in Toronto rather than in China. The winner of that series will play the winner of the Montreal versus Markham Thunder series hosted by the first place Les Canadiennes. Those two teams will advance to the Clarkson Cup in Toronto on March 25 at the Ricoh Coliseum.
Saturday’s game was a dominant performance from Montreal from start to finish. Les Canadiennes opened the scoring in the first with a goal from Sarah Lefort, assisted by Noémie Marin. Calgary peppered Emerance Maschmeyer with nine shots in the period, but were unable to solve the Montreal goaltender, and went into the intermission down 1-0.
Montreal took over the game in the second period, firing 14 shots on net in that frame. Delayne Brian stood tall for the Inferno, not letting in a goal despite the barrage, keeping the game in reach for Calgary.
Calgary came on stronger in the third, with 9 shots in the period but were not able to solve Montreal’s netminder Emerance Maschmeyer. Montreal broke the game wide open with goals from Erin Ambrose, Ann-Sophie Bettez, and Cathy Chartrand.
Sunday’s game was another slow start for Calgary, with Noémie Marin opening the scoring early for Montreal with a goal 1:02 into the game, assisted by Ann-Sophie Bettez. The Inferno were able to get the equalizer with 1:08 left in the first period on a goal from Brianne Jenner, her first since returning from the Olympics, with an assist from Taryn Baumgardt. The period ended with the two teams knotted at one, but shots favouring Montreal 11-4.
The two teams traded chances in the second, but it was the Inferno that were able to break through to take the lead at 15:26 in the second on a goal from Dakota Woodworth and assisted by Louise Warren and Brittany Esposito. The lead wouldn’t last through the period, as Noémie Marin got the equalizer for Les Canadiennes with less than a minute left in the second while Montreal was on a 5-on-3 power play. With that tally, Marin became the all-time CWHL leading goal scorer with 132 goals over her career. Shots on goal in the second were 14-7 in favour of Montreal.
Despite chances for both teams, it looked like the game was ticketed for overtime, but Sarah Lefort got the game winner for Montreal with just over two minutes left in the third. The goal was assisted by Noémie Marin and Ann-Sophie Bettez.