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CWHL Season Opener: Les Canadiennes de Montreal vs. Brampton Thunder

The Canadian Women's Hockey League kicks off the 2015-16 season this afternoon as Les Canadiennes de Montreal host the Brampton Thunder.

Jessica Desjardins | CWHL

Did anyone else wake up this morning saying "no more sleeps until the home opener" like we did? Well jump out of bed and grab your jersey. Today is the day.

Les Canadiennes de Montreal take on the Brampton Thunder in the league's opening game this afternoon.

In their six meetings last season, Montreal came away with five wins. However all but one of the matches were one-goal games showing Brampton knows how to stay in it and consistently be a threat.

Brampton's top line of leading scorer Jess Jones, Jesse Scanzano, and Lindsay Vine are all back again this season. Combined the top trio netted 15 goals last season, with defender and second-leading scorer Laura Fortino popping in 5. Les Canadiennes will have to focus on shutting down this top line and forcing the transition game.

Montreal will need to come out the gate strong and in mid-season form. The only game they dropped to the Thunder was in their first meeting. In that game Brampton came back from a two-goal deficit to stun Montreal with four answered tallies. Although the Thunder are the long-time basement dwellers of the league they have the power to surprise even the sharpest of teams.

For Brampton, keep your eye on newcomer Sarah Edney. Drafted first overall she is a player who knows how to win- and win well. The defenceman is fresh out of Harvard University and was named ECAC Best Defenseman in her senior year.

For Montreal it's the usual suspects. Their one-two scoring lines have punch with last season's top scorer Caroline Ouellette on the first and second-leading scorer Ann-Sophie Bettez on the second. As much as Brampton prides themselves on strong defence, shutting down these first two lines is no easy feat.

Between the pipes we have the duel between four-time Olympic gold medallist Charline Labonté and U-18 World Champion Erica Howe. The advantage goes to Les Candiennes here as Labonté has proven in the CWHL and on the world's stage to be a clutch player.

Practical Stuff

Whether you're headed to see the new-look Canadiennes (formerly the Stars) or even heading to your first women's game, here's what you need to know. Puck drop is at 5:30 at Arena Etienne-Desmarteau (3430 Bellechasse). Tickets are $15 and are available online or at the rink's box office.

If you are unable to attend this weekend's season opening set, you can watch the Periscope stream of tonight's game.  The CWHL offers 32 games, including tomorrow's Montreal-Brampton contest, in a streaming package for only $19.99 this season, which is great value.