The Clarkson Cup final in Toronto will settle a rivalry four years in the making.
At least for now.
Les Canadiennes de Montréal and the Calgary Inferno are set to face off for the Canadian Women’s Hockey League title Sunday at noon, marking the third time in four seasons they’ve battled for the title.
In 2016 it was the Inferno beating Les Canadiennes 8-3, the next season Montreal triumphed with a 3-1 win over Calgary.
Both teams have alternated the Chairman’s Trophy as the winner for the league’s top record in the regular season beginning with Les Canadiennes in 2016 and this year with the Inferno.
For Ann-Sophie Bettez, of Les Canadiennes, the regular season matchup is still fresh on her mind.
“We won the last game (last meeting) so they will want revenge, so it will definitely be a great game on the ice tomorrow,” said Bettez, after a closed practice session on Saturday.
“Our goal from the beginning was to be in the final, we finished second (this year) and obviously our goal was to finish first. So I think for us tomorrow will be kind of a revenge game as well.”
Inferno defender Kacy Bellamy shared a similar feeling on Sunday’s contest at the Coca Cola Coliseum.
“I think there’s a little bit of dislike, and I think it’s become a big rivalry and I think it’s because there’s a lot of talent on both sides — a lot of national team players — a lot of Olympians and that makes the game fun,” said Bellamy.
“That’s what makes it most special, being able to go out there and play with the best and against the best players in the world and country, it’s amazing.”
Goaltenders Emerance Maschmeyer, of Les Canadiennes, and Alex Rigsby, for the Inferno, highlight the rivalry and the star power between the teams.
Maschmeyer and Rigsby have faced off five times in the CWHL and once in the three-game Canada — USA Rivalry Series. Rigsby won four of the six including a 33 save shutout for Team USA in the opener of the February event.
“It’s awesome to have that battle between us so it was really fun being able to play with her at the All-Star game and that was the first time I really interacted with her,” said the American.
“It’s been really fun getting to know her and some of the other Canadian players as well this year, so obviously were both going to be bringing it on Sunday.”
The Canadian related the same feeling towards her counterpart at the other end.
“It’s a lot of fun playing against her and we always have a really good goalie battle so I’m excited to be facing her again wouldn’t want to have it any other way,” said Maschmeyer.
Montreal stars Erin Ambrose and Marie-Philip Poulin are currently in question to play Sunday.
Ambrose suffered a head or neck injury in the first period of the playoff opener against the Markham Thunder after being hit from behind. She missed the rest of the semi-final series.
Poulin, who has won three out of the last four CWHL MVPs, was injured in the regular season finale February 24 against the Thunder and her status for Sunday is still unknown.
The game can be seen live on Sportsnet across Canada and TVA Sports for French speaking viewers.