Labonté, Poulin lead Les Canadiennes to Clarkson Cup championship

In the Clarkson Cup final last year, the heavily favored Canadiennes were thumped by the Calgary Inferno to the tune of 8-3.

Since that game, the team has been focused on getting their revenge. “We’ve been on a mission,” said Montreal goaltender Charline Labonté.

On Sunday, they got their revenge with a 3-1 win over the Calgary Inferno at Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa, earning the team its first championship since 2012. Labonté made 26 saves to earn MVP honours and clinch her first-ever Clarkson Cup.

The game started with a surprise in net for Calgary. Emerance Maschmeyer was selected to start of over veteran Genevieve Lacasse.

In the three game semi-final against the Toronto Furies, Maschmeyer started game one. She allowed four goals on 26 shots. With the defending champs in the hole a game, Inferno coach Scott Reid started Lacasse in Game 2 and Game 3. The netminder won both contests.

Perhaps it was the fact that the last Calgary goaltender to beat Les Canadiennes was Maschmeyer when she pitched a shutout on Feb. 18. Who knows?

At the other end of the ice was Charline Labonté. No big deal. Just one of the most decorated goaltenders in Canadian women’s hockey history. Labonté may have four Olympic gold medals, but the one thing that’s eluded her is the Clarkson Cup trophy. Montreal lost their last three appearances in the final.

With many Montreal players reaching the twilight of their careers, this game felt different. Les Canadiennes didn’t give the Inferno a moment to get adjusted to the game as they came out flying.

Midway through the first period, Calgary’s Bailey Bram took a holding penalty to give Montreal their second power play of the game.

A scant 19 seconds later, Katia Clement-Heydra put Les Canadiennes on the board.


Maschmeyer was tested often in the first. Montreal had 12 shots on goal to Calgary’s five.

The first period ended with Les Canadiennes leading, 1-0.

The Inferno appeared to wake up to start the second period as they pushed the back and forth play with Montreal.

Five minutes in to the period, Les Canadiennes captain Marie-Philip Poulin scored a goal only she – with all her ridiculous and effortless talent – could score.

She shoots from above the circles on net. It hits Maschmeyer and trickles in.


That would be all the goal scoring in the second as Les Canadiennes take a 2-0 lead in to the final frame.

In a reversal of the first period, Calgary out-shot Montreal 12-5 in the third.

Having two relatively easy periods behind her, Labonté was forced to come up big early.

Les Canadiennes defenseman Julie Chu attempts to stop Hailey Irwin as she drives on net. Irwin shoots, the puck hits Labonte and rebounds back to Irwin. She shoots again and Labonté drops into the splits to make the pad save.


With seven minutes to go, Montreal’s Cathy Chartrand attempts to pass to Chu behind the net. In streaks Rebecca Johnston to break up the pass.

Johnston quickly whips the puck up front to Jill Saulnier who sends it past Labonté. Calgary gets within a goal of tying.


Inferno coach Scott Reid decides to do his best Patrick Roy impression and pull the goaltender with 2:15 remaining and Calgary only needing one goal.

It didn’t take too long for the regular season MVP Marie-Philip Poulin to capitalize on the empty net.


She scored her second goal of the game and reestablished the two-goal lead for Montreal.

Maschmeyer was pulled again right after the puck dropped, but the Inferno could not overcome the deficit.

For the first time since the 2011-12 season, Les Montreal de Canadiennes are the Clarkson Cup champions.

Labonté, who was named playoff MVP, summed it up the best, “It’s about time.”


(s/t Women’s Hockey GIFs)