Les Canadiennes’ Sunday afternoon 5-3 loss to the Calgary Inferno wasn’t the emotional hangover you might have expected after playing to a 1-0 victory the day before in front of close to 6,000 fans at the Bell Centre.
Instead, Caroline Ouellette decided it was a good day to make history, becoming the first woman in CWHL history to reach 300 career points.
Bailey Bram had the opening marker for the Inferno, on a set up from Haley Irwin and Rebecca Johnston. Ouellette’s assist on an Ann-Sophie Bettez goal (that Marie-Philip Poulin also assisted on) in the second half of the first period caused the arena to erupt.
“To get my 300th point on the ice that I was fortunate to have my name on is very unique and very special,” she told reporters after the game. The rink the team plays on at the Centre Etienne-Desmarteau is called the ‘Caroline Ouellette rink’.
The milestone point came in the form of a powerplay assist that tied the game 1-1 in the first. What led to the powerplay was a little strange, to say the least: A check for an illegal curve on Cathy Chartrand’s stick.
The Inferno had just iced the puck, and too much time had passed before the faceoff, as head coach Scott Reid was stalling to give his players a break. Eventually the linesman blew her whistle, and asked the Inferno coach what the reason for the delay was.
“And so she said ‘what’s your reason?’ and I’m like, uhh...,” Reid said after the game. “So I’m like, let’s call illegal curve, just to throw something out there because I had nothing else. I was trying to be cheeky and it kind of back fired, so that’s my fault. I didn’t expect it to be that long, so when it dragged on I was like, let’s just get out of here. Let’s just take the delay of game and move on.”
Hayleigh Cudmore took a second delay of game penalty 1:29 later, resulting in the 5 on 3 powerplay that Montreal was able to capitalize on.
The party would be short lived, though, as a few minutes later, Blayre Turnbull snatched up the puck on a breakaway, beating Charline Labonté on the backhand to pull Calgary ahead 2-1.
In the second period, a delayed penalty gave Montreal the chance to throw out an extra attacker and for Lauriane Rougeau to fire a seeing-eye shot from the blue line, off the post and in, beating Geneviève Lacasse, and tying the game 2-2.
It was extremely evident how much these two teams don’t like each other in the second period. It was already a physical affair when Cudmore and Sarah Lefort got into a tuff that saw them exchange punches. Both were given head contact minors (served by Jessica Campbell and Kim Deschênes) and 10-minute head contact misconducts. What resulted at 4-on-4 was a Cathy Chartrand turnover at the blue line that Johnston took advantage of to dish the puck off to Bram, giving Calgary the lead again.
The Inferno increased their lead before the period was through, thanks to a Brigette Lacquette goal (Katelyn Gosling and Campbell added the helpers).
The second period ended with Deschênes being helped off the ice by Ouellette after a questionable hit from Lacquette behind the play that didn’t result in a penalty. Fortunately, Deschênes was back out to start third, appearing no worse for wear.
A little over a minute into the third, Campbell fed Sarah Davis a nice pass for her first goal of the season. Karell Emard beat Lacasse to cut the Inferno’s league to just two goals, but despite increased pressure and several scoring chances, Les Canadiennes weren’t able to score any others, losing the game 5-3.
“We knew that they were going to come back hard,” Bettez said after the game. “You know, they got the best of it. We got a lot of chances but they put more goals in the net than we did.”
Les Canadiennes will take a break for the holidays, resuming action in Boston on January 7 and 8.
Montreal is still one point ahead of Calgary in the standings, but Calgary has two games in hand that they will play in Toronto next weekend. Montreal has a five point lead over Toronto, and 11 points over Brampton. The Thunder also have two games in hand on Montreal.
Boston is in last place, but beat the Toronto Furies in a shootout Sunday afternoon, earning their first win in 420 days - also a shootout win over Toronto.