Calgary, Alta – Saving the best for last is pretty sweet. Accomplishing that feat two years in a row is much sweeter. For the second consecutive season, the top two teams in the CWHL will battle each other on the biggest stage. The top-ranked Calgary Inferno are the defending Clarkson Cup champions and will try to stave off a hungry second seed, Les Canadiennes de Montreal this Sunday March 5, 2017 at 4 pm ET at the Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa.
The Calgary Inferno will return to the Clarkson Cup final for their second appearance in franchise history, while trying to maintain a perfect record in the big game. The Inferno endured resistance in the first round of the 2017 Clarkson Cup playoffs when they hosted a determined and skilled Toronto Furies squad. The Furies pulled off an upset special in Game 1 with a 5-2 triumph. However, the Inferno’s talent and experience proved to be too much to handle as Calgary cruised to 3-1 victories in the following two games to move to the finals.
Meanwhile, Les Canadiennes de Montreal had an easier opening round series, beating the third-ranked Brampton Thunder easily 7-1 in Game 1 and 5-1 in Game 2. By punching their ticket to Clarkson Cup final this season, Montreal will be making their third consecutive appearance and their sixth in eight years. The Montreal franchise, formerly the Montreal Stars, have won three Clarkson Cup Championships including the first ever cup victory in 2008-09, 2010-11 and 2011-12.
The Clarkson Cup final is expected to be highly competitive and evenly matched as both the Inferno and Les Canadiennes each took three games against each other during the regular season. The game will also showcase some of the best women’s hockey has to offer. Montreal boasts three of the top five scorers in Marie-Philip Poulin, Ann-Sophie Bettez and Caroline Ouellette, with Poulin tied for the league lead in points with 37 and averaging a league-best 1.61 points per game.
As for the Inferno, they have enjoyed top 10 scoring campaigns from captain Brianne Jenner, Bailey Bram, Rebecca Johnston and Iya Gavrilova. Jenner spearheaded the Inferno attack all season long, collecting 27 points on the year. Bram made the jump and improved her game this season, which resulted in the speedy forward leading the team in goals with 12. The Inferno also received a pleasant surprise this year as rookie and former Calgary Dino Iya Gavrilova, up for the Rookie of the Year award, broke out to the tune of 21 points and 11 goals, including goals in all three playoff games this year.
On the blueline, Cathy Chartrand will patrol the backend for Montreal as she finished the year with a +12 rating and chipped in 18 points. As for the Inferno, two-time Olympic gold medalist, Meaghan Mikkelson, will be responsible for shutting down the top Montreal forwards. Mikkelson recorded 15 points, a +14 rating and is a finalist for the CWHL Defenceman of the Year award.
Between the pipes, Les Canadiennes de Montreal are expected to start all-world goaltender Charline Labonte in the blue paint. The three-time Olympic gold medalist backstopped her way to a league-leading 11 wins and was second in goals against average (1.53) and save percentage (0.934). Catherine Herron is Montreal’s second goalie, with nine starts on the season and six wins. Her GAA (2.45) and her save percentage (0.893). The Inferno will counter with their terrific goaltending trio of Emerance Maschmeyer, Genevieve Lacasse. and Delayne Brian. Calgary struck gold once again in this past draft as the rookie sensation Maschmeyer led the league in both GAA (1.49) and save percentage (0.946). Lacasse, the Sochi gold medalist who enjoyed a successful first year with the Inferno after coming over from Boston, converted 8 wins in 9 starts. Her GAA (2.00) and her save percentage (0.921). Delayne Brian was 7-0 in the regular season with GAA (1.84) and save percentage (0.917) and was the championship-winning goalie last year and the Clarkson Cup MVP.
Calgary’s head coach Scott Reid is nominated for Coach of the Year at the 2017 CWHL Awards taking place in Ottawa on March 3rd at the Kailash Mital Theatre at Carleton University at 8pm. Tickets are on sale now via Store.thecwhl.com. Additional nominees from Calgary’s roster include, Genevieve Lacasse, nominated for Goalie of the Year and Brianne Jenner is a finalist for MVP. Calgary will receive the Chairman’s Trophy for their first-place finish in regular season play.
The 2017 Clarkson Cup Final will take place at the Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa, Ontario on Sunday March 5 at 2 pm MST. Tickets are now available for $20 and can be purchased at www.ticketmaster.ca. Fans can tune into Sportsnet to watch the game or join the Official Calgary Inferno Clarkson Cup Viewing Party at Boston Pizza, 1116 17 Ave SW. There is an autographed Meaghan Mikkelson Jersey to be raffled off. Please RSVP to [email protected] to reserve a spot.