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"The Best Christmas Gift Ever": Les Canadiennes Look Back At Women's Outdoor Classic

It was a late announcement, and wasn't televised but the outdoor game between Les Canadiennes and the Boston Pride made the players happy

Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

When you talk to players after a win, you expect to see smiles. But when the subject turned to the Outdoor Women's Classic, the smiles given by Les Canadiennes could have lit up the room.

The game that took place before the Alumni Game on December 31 was simply too short.

"It brought the kids out of us," said Canadiennes forward Ann-Sophie Bettez. "You play outside as a kid and now you play outside in this big stadium. Two 15 minute periods running time went by too fast but hopefully it’s something that can happen year after year and we’re really thankful for the NHL and the CWHL who made us part of it."

No matter who you asked, they all had similar views.

"It’s been an amazing week," said Katia Clement-Heydra. "The best Christmas gift ever. We were all like kids out there. Being on NHL ice with NHL refs, having the Canadiens players telling us good luck... It was awesome."

"I don’t even know what day of the week it is," Julie Chu said after Saturday's game. "It’s been a great adventure for us. Starting with the Winter Classic, having the support of the Canadiens, the NHL and the CWHL getting to put that together. I know it was last minute but they did a great job to make it a really fun experience for our entire team."

"Just getting to Boston on the 31st, I don’t think you could have asked for a better start to the year," said Marie-Philip Poulin. "Being there and being part of the Winter Classic, as a kid it’s what you dream of. That’s where you fell in love with the game and to be out there in the big stadium it was quite the experience. As a team I think it was huge and we we're really lucky to be there."

The game ended in a 1-1 tie with Kim Deschênes scoring the Montreal goal off of a pass from Noémie Marin.

"It was a great feeling but for me it was a goal like any other game," Deschênes said. "I’m happy it was me, but I would have been just as happy if it was anyone else who scored it. We went in as a team and experienced it as a team."

There was a delay in the game when Boston's Denna Laing went into the boards after seemingly stepping on a stick. She was taken away on a stretcher. The family has asked for privacy and have not released any details.

The game was extra special for Chu and Poulin who played their university hockey in the Boston area (Chu at Harvard and Poulin at Boston University).

"I went to school and lived in Boston for about seven years and I really love the city so getting the chance to go back and to play in the winter classic there was really special," said Chu.

"Boston has a big part of my heart after four amazing years and every time I go to Boston it reminds me of the amazing time I had there and the amazing people I’ve met there over the years," said Poulin.

In the end, there were issues. The game wasn't televised, and wasn't promoted to the best of the NHL's abilities but there were fans at Gillette Stadium who recognized the players when they were signing autographs before the NHL's Winter Classic.

"It was pretty special to know that people recognized who we were," said Bettez. "I think that’s the biggest part of growing women’s hockey. It’s a start and hopefully next year we’ll be able to play again and it will be televised and more people know about it."