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CWHL Preview: Les Canadiennes look to stay undefeated vs Furies

Montreal looks to remain atop the CWHL after a trip to Toronto

Shanna Martin/EOTP

There are no easy games in the CWHL.

Even last week, after an 11-0 win against the Boston Blades, the next day against the same team, Les Canadiennes actually trailed late in the second period.

The Toronto Furies took the 6-0-0 Calgary Inferno to overtime in both games last weekend, and actually led the second game for a majority of the game until Calgary scored late in the third period.

In their first meeting of the year, Toronto took the lead against a tough Montreal team on the road. Les Canadiennes had two goals from Marie-Philip Poulin to take the game 2-1. The next day, Montreal led 2-1 after two periods, and scored two third period goals to take the 4-1 win.

Toronto is a team that plays a very tight defensive game. Both of their goaltenders, Christina Kessler (2-2-1, 1.95, 0.924) and Sonja van der Bliek (1-1-1, 1.65, 0.942) have goals against averages under 2.00.

The draft was instrumental to Toronto’s turnaround. They added a top defensive pairing in Renata Fast and Erin Ambrose, who both played for Canada at the 4 Nations Cup. Their third round pick, Michela Cava, has also been a great addition. She has three goals and four assists in eight games and is tied for the CWHL’s rookie scoring lead with Montreal’s Sarah Lefort.

You can’t talk about Toronto’s offence without mentioning Natalie Spooner. She is so good that she actually belongs in the same group as Montreal’s Poulin. Spooner is the top non-Canadiennes scorer in the CWHL with four goals and five assists in only six games.

For Montreal, they have the league’s top two scorers in Poulin (8G-6A-14P, six games) and Caroline Ouellette (5G-5A-10P, six games). They also have six of the league’s top nine scorers. Ann-Sophie Bettez, Lefort, Kim Deschênes, and defender Cathy Chartrand have seven points.

In goal, Les Canadiennes can match Toronto. Charline Labonté is 4-0-0 with a 1.25 GAA and .937 save percentage. Catherine Herron is very capable to spell the two-time defending CWHL goaltender of the year. She is 2-0-0 in her two starts with a 1.50 GAA and .927 save percentage, including one win against Toronto.

The game on Saturday is at 8:00 p.m. and on Sunday at 1:00 p.m. at the Mastercard Centre in Etobicoke. Across the GTA, the Brampton Thunder will host the Calgary Inferno for two games. Montreal and Calgary, with matching 6-0-0 records, will no doubt pay a little attention to how the other is doing.