Les Canadiennes de Montreal opened their pre-season with half of the 20 players in the game being newcomers to the team, including seven forwards and both goaltenders.
That places more importance on the exhibition season as the team has four games and to get all the new players on track for the October 17th season opener.
"There’s definitely an adjustment," said Canadiennes forward Kim Deschênes. "The team is more or less set but we don’t have our system in place yet. We’re pretty much starting from scratch so I’m looking forward to the next few weeks."
Deschênes scored the lone Montreal goal on the power play, converting a gorgeous cross-crease feed from captain Cathy Chartrand at 7:04 of the first period. Deschênes was playing on a line with veterans Emmanuelle Blais and Noémie Marin. She played with Marin last year, on a line that became one of the league's best by the end of the 2014-15 season.
"I haven’t really played with Manue [Blais] so we were talking on the bench throughout the entire game," Deschênes said. "With Noémie, we had success at the end of last season so it helps to have that experience together."
Like it has been with the NHL's Montreal Canadiens, the battle for the backup spot behind Labonté is one of the more interesting storylines in Canadiennes camp. 2014 draft pick Sydney Aveson is going head-to-head with Jessica Anderson, who was selected in the 2015 CWHL Player Entry Draft.
Aveson last played for the Plattsburgh State Cardinals in the NCAA during the 2013-14 season, where in her final season she allowed 14 goals in 24 games for a 0.57 GAA and a .971 save percentage. She had a 21-1-1 record with 14 shutouts and was named National Player of the Year in NCAA Division III.
Both prospective goalies played half a game. Aveson started and didn't allow a goal in her time in net, while Anderson allowed two goals, including the overtime winner that deflected off a player or two in front before going just under the cross bar.
Veteran Caroline Ouellette was not in her normal forward spot, playing defence in the game. Les Canadiennes only have six defenders listed on their roster, including Chu who did not play. With the evaluation of their rookie forwards of more importance, the decision was made to put Ouellette on the back end.
"There’s certainly a lot of new faces. Before the game when we were handing out jerseys for the rookies, we were missing some," said Deschênes.
Another one of Les Canadiennes on defence was Karell Emard, Montreal's third-round pick this summer's draft, who is making the transition back to playing after being part of the Colgate University coaching staff.
"I was a little nervous before the game, especially playing against boys — we all know they are fast — and especially playing D as well," said Emard. "The first couple of shifts was just shaking off the nerves and then it was just back to playing hockey."
Les Canadiennes continue their pre-season on Thursday as they host Concordia University at the Étienne-Desmarteau Arena at 8:30 PM ET.
Les Canadiennes Lineup
(* - denotes newcomer)
Emmanuelle Blais - Noémie Marin - Kim Deschênes
Alyssa Sherrard* - Leslie Oles* - Ann-Sophie Bettez
Jordanna Peroff* - Katia Clement-Heydra* - Emilie Bocchia
Audrey Morand* - Sara Lachance* - Melinda Prévost*