Cheer up, Montreal and Calgary hockey fans!
While your NHL teams may not make the playoffs, your local CWHL teams are vying for the championship in the Clarkson Cup. You’ve still got a chance to be winners this season!
Here’s what you need to know to get you ready for Sunday afternoon’s championship tilt.
WHO: No. 1 Les Canadiennes de Montreal (21-3-0) vs. No. 2 Calgary Inferno (16-6-2).
WHEN: Sunday, March 13 at 4pm ET.
WHERE: Home of the Ottawa Senators – Canadian Tire Centre. It’s a neutral site game.
HOW TO WATCH: If you’re in Canada, you can watch on Sportsnet (check your local listings). Outside of Canada, stream the game FOR FREE through CWHL Live. Cassie Campbell-Pascall, Jennifer Botterill, and John Bartlett have the call.
|Nov. 14||Les Canadiennes de Montreal||4||Calgary Inferno||5|
|Nov. 15||Les Canadiennes de Montreal||5||Calgary Inferno||0|
|Jan. 30||Calgary Inferno||2||Les Canadiennes de Montreal||5|
|Jan. 31||Calgary Inferno||1||Les Canadiennes de Montreal||3|
|Feb. 2||Les Canadiennes de Montreal||2||Calgary Inferno||4|
|Feb. 3||Les Canadiennes de Montreal||2||Calgary Inferno||1|
1. Beware of Marie-Philip Poulin.
At the CWHL Awards Gala on Friday, Les Canadiennes de Montreal forward picked up three individual trophies: the Angela James Bowl (top scorer), Jayna Hefford Trophy (Player voted MVP), and CWHL MVP. With 46 points in 22 games, she’s scary, scary good.
Just watch her dismantle the Toronto Furies on a way to a goal in their playoff series two weekends ago.
Sportsnet’s play of the game is this incredible goal by @pou29 to put @LesCanadiennes up 6-1 #CWHL pic.twitter.com/KRWxNE6bF4
— CWHL Gifs (@CWHLHighlights) February 28, 2016
In the six game season series against the Inferno, Poulin registered 8 goals with 5 of them at even strength.
2. … and when not dealing with MPP, watch out for everyone else.
Les Canadiennes forwards comprise the top four point scorers in the CWHL: MPP (46), Ann-Sophie Bettez (44), Kim Deschenes (33), and Caroline Ouellette (32).
Ouellette is coming in hot with 8 points in the two game playoff series against Toronto. Poulin is right behind her at 7 points.
This team has serious depth at all positions, and they all can hurt you. Finding a weakness is difficult. Their special teams were both first in the league; the penalty kill was nearly impenetrable at a 96.25% success rate.
3. What about Calgary?
The Inferno’s three-headed monster of Brianne Jenner, Elana Lovell, and Brittany Esposito combined for 74 points on the season. Jillian Saulnier (4 game winning goals) and Jessica Campbell round out the top five scorers on the team.
Player to watch is Rebecca Johnston. The forward missed all but four of the Inferno’s regular season games due to lingering back and knee injuries. When she did get back, she had 6 points over those four games. In the playoff series versus Brampton she registered 5 points in 2 games. She’s tied for third place in playoff points with Montreal’s Bettez.
Delayne Brian is expected to start for Calgary. She was 2-0-0 with 2.50 GAA and .904 SV% against Brampton in Round 1.
4. Clarkson Cup Final rookies versus veterans.
This is the first time the Calgary Inferno have made it to the Clarkson Cup Final. They even penned a letter to Calgary officials asking for their support in the team’s quest for the Cup.
Dear Calgary @nenshi @cityofcalgary @metrocalgary @calgarysun @calgaryherald @CalHerSports @SUNSports @CalgaryPolice pic.twitter.com/ceCGhfpTn1
— Calgary Inferno (@InfernoCWHL) March 4, 2016
Montreal on the other hand, has been to the final five times since the 2010-11 season; winning it twice in back-to-back years (2011, 2012).
Their most recent being last year in a loss against the Boston Blades. A majority of the players from that squad are still on the team, including goalie Charline Labonte. She was in net when Janine Weber beat her in overtime.
Labonte is having her best season in the CWHL. She earned Goaltender of the Year honors following a 17-2-0 season with 5 shutouts. For a woman who was won nearly everything, the only thing missing from Labonte’s award vault is the Clarkson Cup.
If anyone can calm down Calgary, it’s going to be “rookie” forward Hayley Wickenheiser. Like Labonte, she’s had success at so many different levels. This is just another game to her with a prize at the end. When people talk about how leadership in a locker room can impact a team’s performance, Wickenheiser is the embodiment of that ideal.
5. Time is the great equalizer.
Both teams haven’t played in a competitive game since their respective round one playoff series ended on February 27.
Rust mixed with nerves could make for an interesting first period. Teams usually regroup after the first intermission, and the real games starts; provided no one has dug themselves a hole they can’t get out of.
PREDICTION: MONTREAL WINS! Calgary may be the second seed in the league but, this is Les Canadiennes Clarkson Cup to lose.
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