The Canadian Women’s Hockey League Finals go down this Sunday, as your Calgary Inferno match up in the winner-take-all Clarkson Cup Championship game against rival Les Canadiennes de Montreal!
While this is Calgary’s third appearance in the Clarkson Cup game, they’ve had a storied history against Les Canadiennes in the young CWHL. Montreal are four time Champions, and in two of those finals showings have faced the Inferno. While MTL came out on top in the 2017 showdown with a 3-1 win, CGY were victorious the prior year 8-3 for their only Clarkson Cup win as a franchise to this day.
Regular season wise, the teams have met a total of 22 times since the 2015-2016 season, and have split the matches right down the middle with eleven wins a piece. Statistically, Les Canadiennes have held the advantage in their half of the wins with 64 goals scored to 48 against and notching five shutouts along the way to the Inferno’s one.
Sunday’s game will be the Finals tie-breaker between the team’s 1-1 head-to-head record, but let’s preview the game by matching up their 2018-2019 performances that got them here:
OCT 13th- Calgary 1 @ Montreal 2
OCT 14th- Calgary 3 @ Montreal 1
NOV 24th- Montreal 2 @ Calgary 4
NOV 25th- Montreal 2 @ Calgary 3
FEB 2nd- Calgary 5 @ Montreal 4
FEB 3rd- Calgary 0 @ Montreal 3
The two squads matched up six times this campaign, and the Inferno came out ahead by grabbing four victories in the series. All games were decided in regulation time. The Inferno captured the Chairman’s Trophy for clinching first place in the regular season with 47 points, ahead of Montreal’s 43 point finish in second place. The high-flying Canadiennes ended the regular season with a +73 goal differential which was league best, and Calgary was behind them in second with +57. They teams were evenly matched in the penalty minutes department as Calgary took only four more PIMs at 218 to MTL’s 214.
While Inferno Captain Rebecca Johnston lead her team in points, she wound up chasing Montreal’s top stars all year and finished 3rd place in the CWHL scoring race, behind Marie-Philip Poulin and Ann-Sophie Bettez. While both teams had three players each in the top ten rank, Montreal’s was more top heavy at 1-2 while their mate Jill Saulnier finished in seventh. The Inferno’s representation is rounded out by team goal scoring leader Brianne Jenner who finished with 19 goals, and Brianna Decker who finished her season at tenth.
As both first round series went the distance of three games, the scoring differential is at a pretty wide margin when all said and done. Montreal forward and US Olympian Hilary Knight is running away with playoff scoring at 8 points, and the next three highest scorers also represent Les Canadiennes. Calgary’s playoff attack has been more well rounded, with no player picking up more than two points over their three games played.
Montreal’s perennial goalie superstar Emerance Maschmeyer was at the top of the league again this season. She lead the CWHL in games started at 20, with 15 wins and four shutouts on the way to a 1.45 Goals Against Average. She also posted a pair of shutouts against the Markham Thunder in the first round of this year’s Clarkson Cup playoffs.
Calgary starter Alex Rigsby wasn’t far behind Maschmeyer, with 14 wins on 17 starts. She picked up one shutout, and finished the regular season with a 2.04 Goals Against Average. Alex picked up a 13 save shutout in Game Two against the Toronto Furies in CGY’s first round matchup, and the series clinching W in game three.
CGY and MTL finished 1-2 in the standings this season and have built a storied rivalry that has very much come to define the CWHL in the past few seasons, including back-to-back Clarkson Cup matchups in 2016 and 2017, with each team victorious once. In a one-game winner take all, this tightly contested matchup could very well be a coin flip!
The Clarkson Cup Final will be broadcast live and coast-to-coast on Sportsnet, starting at 10:00AM Mountain Time on Sunday March 24th.