It was a big weekend in the Heart of the New West, as a rematch of the last two Clarkson Cup finals was on tap with Les Canadiennes de Montreal heading into Calgary. The Inferno were hopeful to translate recent momentum into some regular season success against Montreal, as CGY came into the weekend riding a five game win streak.
Things kicked off with some pomp and circumstance at Winsport Arena A on the Calgary ‘88 Olympic Grounds, as the Inferno were hosting their 4th annual “Keep The Beat” game in support of raising funds for the Heart & Stroke Foundation. You can find an excellent article on the Keep The Beat tradition and what it means personally to Inferno defenseman Jacquie Pierri from M&G’s own @raminashlah right here:
On hand for the ceremonial puck drop was the Calgary Flames’ own President of Hockey Operations Brian Burke, stopping in from the big club for this special occasion. Matchsticks’ @raminashlah worked some photography magic to get a snap of the boss before things kicked off.
The first period saw MTL’s Tracy-Ann Lavigne take two minutes in the bin for hooking, but the Inferno were unable to capitalize and things went scoreless through 20 minutes. The Calgarians came out flying, outshooting Les Canadiennes by a 12-4 margin.
The Inferno finally broke through in the second frame, as Elana Lovell banked one on a pass from from Brittany Esposito at the 9:51 mark to go up 1-0 for her third goal of the campaign.
It looked like Calgary might be able to hold on to their one goal lead, but MTL’s Sarah Lefort found some heroics with no less than 50 seconds remaining in regulation time to tie things up and send the contest to extras. Assists on the late equalizer to Clement-Heydra and Tutino.
Despite Calgary outshooting Montreal in this game by a 28-22 margin thanks to a strong first period, things remained tight through OT and needed a shootout to decide a victor.
MTL: Clement-Heydra -GOAL
CGY: Lovell -GOAL
MTL: Bettez -X
CGY: Esposito -GOAL
MTL: Lefort – GOAL
CGY: Dostaler -X
MTL: Tutino -X
CGY: -Murray -X
MTL: Allemoz -GOAL
CGY: Gosling -X
Les Canadiennes take shootout 3-2, for a 2-1 final score over the Inferno. Montreal goaltender Emerance Maschmeyer took home First Star of the contest with her 27 save performance outdueling CGY’s Toni Ross and her 20 save showing.
Montreal took their thrilling Saturday victory’s momentum into the Sunday contest. In the first period, Les Canadiennes dramatically outshout the Inferno by a 17-4 margin, bombarding CGY goaltender Lindsey Post from all angles. This despite the fact that MTL took a total of four minor penalties in the first 20 minutes. And while the Inferno took a pair of penalty markers of their own, it was Les Canadiennes pair of even strength goals from Ambrose and Clement-Heydra that made it 2-0 visitors after the first.
The second stanza saw no more scoring plays, but the Inferno roared back with 16 shots over the frame. MTL’s Emerance Macschmeyer was again up to the challenge, seeing back-to-back starts against the Inferno. The rivalry between the two squadrons certainly showed some teeth, as Montreal racked up another 8 PIMs and the Inferno notched 4 of their own.
Entering the final frame, Les Canadienns put their foot on the gas and took back the shot advantage, firing another 11 on the CGY net. MTL’s Ann-Sophie Bettez netted her 11th goal of the year, and put the final touch on icing the sweep for Les Canadiennes over the Inferno. Montreal’s newly acquired all-star defenseman Erin Ambrose took 1st star for the GWG, and G Maschmeyer took 3rd star for the 24 stop SO. 3-0 Final Score.
Notables And Quotables:
“I really don’t have any excuses for it. We don’t have any excuses for it... we have to play sixty full minutes. Every game matters.” -Erica Kromm, post-game 2 coverage to M&G’s @raminashlah
“At the end of the day, winning would be a result of how we’re playing. I don’t want to focus on this rivalry thing because every team in this league is good. So as far as the Montreal-Calgary thing goes, we can just let go of it. It’s not that.” -Erica Kromm, post-game 2 coverage to M&G’s @raminashlah
“I don’t know what it is, but we can just not win against Montreal in the regular season.” -Inferno GM Kristen Haag, reportedly overhead postgame after Game 2.
The Burning Embers:
Take things at face value or don’t as far as the storied hockey history and rivalry goes between Calgary and Montreal, but Erica Kromm’s emotional post-game interview and GM Hagg’s comments certaonly tell a story. Had the Inferno been able to somehow come away from the weekend series with a pair of W’s, it would have given Calgary the points lead in the overall standings 27-26, leapfrogging Les Canadiennes for the league lead. The big weekend turned unfortunately into the opposite, and Calgary remains in second place and 3 points back of Montreal, at 23 and 26 overall points respectively. It’s a tough pill to swallow for the Inferno and their fans on more than one level.
The Inferno remain in CWHL-elite mix, with Sunday’s 3-0 setback being only their first regulation time loss of the season. The 10-3-0-0-1 Vanke Rays are in YYC for next weekend’s 2-game set against our Ladies In Red. Keep it set to Matchsticks & Gasoline for coverage!