Calgary, Alta – One night after capturing the regular season crown, the Calgary Inferno got off to a slow start in the backend of the two-game series with Les Canadiennes de Montreal and could not complete the comeback, dropping a 5-3 decision in the last game of the regular season.
The start of the game looked promising for the Calgary Inferno. With Brittney Esposito serving a tripping penalty in the box, her teammate Blayre Turnbull exploded down the wing and outmuscled the Montreal defender on a terrific short-handed effort, finding an opening between the legs of Les Canadiennes goaltender Catherine Herron for the first marker of the game from Louise Warren. However, Les Canadiennes answered back quickly as Sarah Lefort snuck one under the glove of Inferno netminder Genevieve Lacasse. At 14:02, Les Canadiennes defender Deschenes took a penalty for boarding but was bailed out by her teammate Sophie-Ann Bettez, who out-skated the Calgary defense and responded with her own short-handed score to even up the game. Les Canadiennes heavily outshot the Inferno 13-5 in the opening period.
Les Canadiennes continued to push the pace in the second and they were rewarded with their third goal of the game, as Kim Deschenes lifted one over the shoulder of Lacasse with Marie-Philip Poulin and Katia Clement-Heydra drawing the assists. Midway through the second, Montreal’s Cathy Chartrand took a slashing penalty and Calgary was able to take advantage of the powerplay. Sarah Davis found an open Brigette Lacquette on the right point and she unleashed a howitzer from the back end for her fourth goal of the season. The Inferno were unable to build on that momentum as Les Canadiennes capitalized on their own man advantage just four minutes later when Cathy Chartrand beat Lacasse short-side with Karell Emard and Sarah Lefort picking up the helpers. By the end of the second period, Les Canadiennes had restored their two-goal lead and were up 4-2, while outshooting Calgary 23-16.
In the third period, the Inferno tried to mount a comeback with Jessica Campbell providing a quick-strike marker just two minutes in. Campbell fooled Herron with an innocent-looking snapshot on the left wing, while Bailey Bram got credit with the assist. However, Sarah Lefort would put the game out of reach midway through the final frame on a beautiful play orchestrated by her teammates Carly Hill and Lauriane Rougeau. As the final buzzer sounded, Montreal outlasted Calgary 5-3, with Catherine Herron recording 25/28 saves in the victory and the Inferno’s Genevieve Lacasse making 33/38 saves in the loss.
“We weren’t sharp today,” explains Inferno Head Coach Scott Reid. “A little problem with execution – we weren’t sharp. Sometimes these games are tough to play in when they don’t really mean anything in the standings but yet you are preparing for the playoffs and there’s a lot on the line. So if you still want to get to your ultimate goal, you have to keep getting better. Montreal is a very good team and they don’t quit. It’s a fine line and we were just below the line today.”
Three Stars of the game:
- Sarah Lefort – Les Canadiennes de Montreal
- Brigette Lacquette – Calgary Inferno
- Cathy Chartrand – Les Canadiennes de Montreal
The top-seeded Calgary Inferno will now begin preparations for their opening round playoff series against the Toronto Furies, which will take place next weekend.
“I think our balanced attack will be a big key for the playoffs. We have 12 forwards that can play on any given team and on any given line. Our defense is very solid and we have arguably three starting goalies. So, our balanced attack has gotten us to where we are and hopefully it can keep us going to where we need to get to,” added Reid.
The opening game of the playoffs against the Furies will take place Friday February 24 at the Carstairs Memorial Arena in Carstairs, AB with puck drop at 8pm MST. Game 2 will be on Saturday February 25 back inside WinSport at the Joan Snyder Arena beginning at 3:30pm MST. If necessary, game 3 will take place on Sunday February 26 back at the Carstairs Memorial Arena with action getting underway at 12:45pm MST.