MARKHAM, Ont. — Forward Caroline Ouellette scored a power-play goal in overtime to help the Montreal Stars narrowly defeat the Boston Blades 1-0 on Friday afternoon at the Clarkson Cup.
The game was fast-paced and exciting throughout despite a lack of scoring in regulation, which bodes well for Saturday’s rematch in the final.
With Boston forward Kate Buesser in the penalty box for tripping during the extra frame, Ouellette received a pass from the point and one-timed it home from the right circle for the win.
Both teams played their backup goaltenders to give their starters a rest for the championship game, but neither Molly Schaus of the Blades nor Jenny Lavigne of the Stars gave an inch.
“You’ve got world-class goaltenders on both sides of the ice, so you know there are going to be some huge saves,” said Blades captain Caitlin Cahow.
“Defensively I think both teams are very, very disciplined and very hungry in the D-zone, so that’s what you like to see and that’s what makes it difficult to score.”
Aside from Ouellette, all the big guns from both teams were held off the score sheet, but Meghan Agosta-Marciano was perhaps the notable player to be held goalless.
The Montreal forward is the reigning Angela James Bowl winner as the leading scorer in the Canadian Women’s Hockey League, but has only managed to record two assists in three games thus far at the Clarkson Cup.
That said, neither she nor her coach, Phillippe Trahan, sounded worried.
“Not at all, she is an amazing player, she’s a great person as well,” said Trahan. “I think they’ve been pretty close games except the first one, so if she doesn’t score, that means she’s focusing on the defensive side of the game and that’s what’s going to win us the championship.”
In a matchup filled with offensive talents such as Ann-Sophie Bettez, the 2012-13 CWHL Rookie of the Year, and Agosta-Marciano for Montreal and Hilary Knight and Buesser with Boston, it came as a bit of a surprise that there was so little scoring in the game.
“It was an up-and-down game,” says Trahan. “Obviously there’s very talented players on both sides, but I was expecting maybe a little more goals, a 4-3 game or a 3-2 game, but they did a great job defensively and I think we did as well.”
Montreal’s offence had several glorious chances on net, but it was their team’s defensive play that shone. Of note was a huge shot block by Stars defenceman Julie Chu during a penalty kill in the second period to keep the game scoreless.
“Blocking shots is a huge part of our team and there’s no one better than Julie Chu and Catherine Ward to do that for us and they inspire me to want to block shots,” says Ouellette, an assistant captain for Montreal. “And we had another huge blocked shot in the third, Dominique Thibault, who you know might not be someone that’s known for that, but she’s willing to sacrifice and do whatever it takes.”
After such a mentally and physically draining game, players and staff on both sides appeared more relieved than anything else.
Trahan had a simple message for his troops in advance of the championship game.
“Enjoy this moment because tomorrow’s another day,” he said. “Unfortunately, it’s tomorrow that counts.”
The 2013 Clarkson Cup championship game between Montreal and Boston will be at 2 p.m. ET on Saturday at the Centennial Community Centre in Markham.