Inferno Defeat Les Canadiennes in Dominant Performance for Clarkson Cup Championship

Jerred Bapty
BarnBurner Sports Writer

@CaptainBapty

Sunday, March 24, 2019


Calgary Inferno 5 – Les Canadiennes de Montréal 2 FINAL

TORONTO, ON – Montréal started just a step behind Calgary and never quite managed to match the Inferno’s pace of play in Sunday’s Clarkson Cup Final. Calgary held Montreal to just 2 goals in a 5-2 victory over Les Canadiennes to capture the title. 

Brianna Decker was named the Clarkson Cup MVP for having a hand in most of Calgary’s offence and scoring the 3rd goal on the powerplay midway through the 2nd period. That turned into the game-winner. When asked about winning the MVP, it wasn’t about how she performed Sunday afternoon.

“It really goes back to just thanking my teammates that I’m surrounded by,” She said. “I couldn’t be more thankful to play with Rebecca Johnston and Zoe Hickel, and obviously we’re out there on the ice a lot with [Katelyn] Gosling and [Kacey] Bellamy. The way they move the puck, the way they get themselves open, they’re world class players and that’s what sets me up half the time. So, I’m really thankful for them.”

Hickel banked a quick one-timer past Montreal goalie Emerance Maschmeyer off a give-and-go with Rebecca Johnston midway through the 3rd period to give Calgary a 4-2 lead. It was the second of 2 goals for Hickel that made her the 1st star of the game. 

“I’ve been lucky to play with Johnston and Decker all year,” said Hickel. “It’s a full team effort and that was just the way it went today.”

Decker joins an elite group of players as Clarkson Cup MVP. Charline Labonte was given the honour twice (2015 and 2017) and Caroline Ouellette in 2012. Markham’s Erica Howe was last year’s winner.

Montreal had a goal disallowed early in the 3rd period for goalie interference. Les Canadiennes Hilary Knight got tangled up with Alex Rigsby which brought her out of the net and allowed the puck to be tucked in by Melodie Daoust, but it was immediately waved off by the official.

As the coach for Les Canadiennes, Ouellette was seen noticeably frustrated while receiving an explanation from the referee and voiced her opinion on the call post-game. “I felt like Hilary Knight was pushed and she didn’t have a chance to get back up and move out of there,” She told reporters.

“From what I saw from [the video board] I didn’t think Rigsby could have moved in time to make the save. Obviously, that’s a moment where we could have tied the game, so I’ll have to see it again to have an opinion on it.”

Ann-Sophie Bettez was the only goal scorer for Montreal. She scored both Les Canadiennes goals in the 2nd period to bring her team within one of the Inferno each time, but they ultimately fell short. 

“We didn’t play 60 minutes,” She said post-game. “I think we just ran out of time. Throughout the 2nd and the 3rd we got momentum but, unfortunately we didn’t start on time.”

Bettez was named the 2nd start of the game for her efforts to keep Montreal in the game. 

“It’s tough to beat a team like Calgary when you don’t play for 20 minutes.” Said Coach Ouellette. “In the 2nd and the 3rd we created a lot of chances and gained our confidence back, but that was my question to them: Why were we not on our toes? Why were we not confident? We felt prepared for this moment but, for some reason we did not attack it and seize the opportunity.”

Knight got her 5th assist of the playoffs on Bettez’s second goal, giving her a post-season leading 9 playoff points to finish 2019, but the hole left by the absence of Captain Marie-Philip Poulin proved too large to fill. Poulin dressed for warmups but, participated in limited rushes and didn’t take the ice once during the game. 

“She did everything she could, even rehab 2-3 times a day to give herself a chance to come back and play for this moment,” Said Ouellette on Poulin’s injury. “In the end it was really too soon for that type of injury and we couldn’t compromise her career for this moment… She was giving people confidence; she was trying to really help us out. It was like having another coach on the bench.”

It wasn’t just Les Canadiennes that missed her presence on the ice, however. The Inferno felt the void left by Poulin just as much as Montreal.

“I’m always going head-to-head with her, especially in the faceoff spot,” commented Decker on Poulin’s absence. “I think everyone did miss her and I think their team missed her as well but, I have a lot of respect for her. Hopefully she’ll be healthy for World Championships in the next month because she has a huge role on the ice… I was glad to see that she was suited up for them on the bench. I think their team needed that but, as a competitor, it’s tough to sit out and have to watch.”

Calgary came to play from the start and dominated the first period in possession and shots on goal, which were 11-6. Montreal had three powerplays in the 2nd, including a 5-3, which helped turn things around a little, but they couldn’t crawl back. 

What was slated to be a goalie battle certainly didn’t turn out that way. Maschmeyer stopped 26 of 30 Inferno shots for an 0.867 save percentage, meanwhile Alex Rigsby 25 of 27 for a 0.926 save percentage.

Despite being statistically the better goalie during the regular season, Maschmeyer had just 2 wins in 5 appearances against Calgary, with two performances below 0.900. Rigsby meanwhile, won 4 of 6 games against Montreal, with only one game below 0.900.

This is Calgary’s second Clarkson Cup in 4 years and their second in franchise history. This is also the first time in 5 years the Chairman’s Trophy winner has hoisted the Clarkson Cup. 

Those selected for their respective country’s World Championship Rosters now look ahead to April, Finland, and a shot at gold. 

There were 15 players on the ice in the Clarkson Cup final who will be heading to Finland, 8 for Calgary and 7 for Montreal, plus Marie-Philip Poulin.

“This is the first experience for me at World’s so obviously I’m going to have to gather back quickly and make sure I’m ready to go against the US. Some of the players are going to be on the other side as well so, I’m definitely going to want my revenge,” said Bettez about the upcoming World Championships. “I’ll just have to put everything aside, learn from what happened today, and make sure moving forward that I’m a better person and a better teammate for World’s.”

Bettez will make her World Championships debut at the age of 31 after being selected for Canada’s Rivalry Series roster back in February and representing our nation for the first time since her teenage years. 

 

Let me know what you think!

Twitter: @CaptainBapty

Email: jerred@barnburner.ca