Calgary, Alta – Oct.11, 2018 – Two of the juggernauts in the Canadian Women’s Hockey League ( CWHL) will lock horns in the opening week of play in the league as the Inferno head east to battle Les Canadiennes de Montreal for a pair of big road games.
Both teams have met in two of the last three Clarkson Cup Finals and will look to faceoff against each other on the biggest stage once again this year.
Les Canadiennes finished their 2017-2018 campaign atop the CWHL standings, pacing the league with 22 wins and 45 points. The Inferno wrapped up last season with a respectable 17 victories and 38 points, good for third place and will look to challenge for that top spot once again.
“We had so many good players at training camp and now our final roster has so much talent on it. I believe we have nine Olympians on the team this year. The talent has surely elevated league-wide but I feel our team has really made a major jump this year,” stated Inferno forward Dakota Woodworth.
This weekend’s matchup will certainly see the stat sheets fill up, as it will feature two of the most prolific offenses in the league. Montreal led the league with 117 goals, while the Inferno were tied with Kunlun for second with 96.
Those numbers are expected to climb this season as both teams saw plenty of turnover but were busy stockpiling talent in the arms race both through free agency and the draft.
Les Canadiennes will see the return of two of the brightest stars in women’s hockey, Marie-Philip Poulin and Hilary Knight, as both were competing in the 2018 Winter Olympics. Additionally, Montreal added two former Inferno players with forward Jill Saulnier and goaltender Genevieve Lacasse changing addresses during the offseason. The defense features the ever-consistent Olympian Lauriane Rougeau and a budding star in Erin Ambrose, who narrowly missed the cut for the Canadian Olympic team. The position battle to watch will be in net, as Lacasse will push incumbent Emerance Maschmeyer for playing time. Maschmeyer led all goalies with 18 wins and was tied with Kunlun’s Noora Raty for tops in the league with six shutouts.
The Inferno experienced an equally busy offseason as they loaded up in all three positions of the team. Five Olympians (Brianne Jenner, Rebecca Johnston, Blayre Turnbull and Brianna Decker) will be the driving force for the Inferno offense. Zoe Hickel, who burst onto the scene last year with a league-leading 26 assists as a rookie, will join a deep pool of talented forwards who will create plenty of scoring opportunities. The strength of the team may lie on the blueline as a pair of Olympians (Kacey Bellamy and Brigette Lacquette) anchor the defense, while first round draft pick Halli Krzyzaniak will join a stout group of defenders with Katelyn Gosling and Kelly Murray being the only holdovers. Between the pipes, the Inferno will get a major boost from Alex Rigsby, who has backstopped Team USA to multiple World Championships and was part of the 2018 Olympic gold medal team. Perhaps the most important position to secure in the offseason occurred behind the bench as the Inferno added the most successful NCAA women’s hockey coach in Shannon Miller, formerly with the University of Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs, as the head coach of the team.
With the roster overhaul, the new-look Inferno are excited to see how their squad shapes up against the powerhouse Les Canadiennes.
“I’m just looking forward to the intense competition,” expressed rookie forward Eden Murray (Round 8). “I’ve always liked playing against tougher teams – everybody works their hardest and the pace is at a high level. Those will be great games to play as a competitor and fun to watch as a hockey fan.”
Both games will take place at Place Bell in Laval, Quebec this weekend with Saturday’s game starting at 4:30pm MST and Sunday’s rematch going at 11:00am MST.