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CWHL Playoffs 2016: Head-to-Head Christina Kessler vs Charline Labonté

With the CWHL Clarkson Cup playoffs just a few days away from getting underway, EOTP will be taking a look at some head-to-head matchups on the Furies and Canadiennes.

Jess Desjardins & Chris Tanouye

Photo Credit: CWHL



AGE: 27


HEIGHT: 5 ft 6 in


STATS: 4-12-2 with 2 shutouts, a 3.34 GAA and .902 SV%

WHY SHE'S AWESOME: Christina Kessler played her NCAA hockey at Harvard University from 2006-2010, where she excelled. Kessler in fact holds the record for single season shutouts in women's NCAA hockey with 12 (a feat which she accomplished in 2007-08). As a senior, Kessler was fifth in the NCAA with a .944 SV%, and a 1.39 GAA.

The Mississauga native has competed as a member of the Canadian national women's team on several occasions as part of the U-22 program, and at the Four Nations Cup, and has been a threat between the pipes in the CWHL since her debut with the now defunct Burlington Barricudas in 2010-11.

Kessler moved to the Toronto Furies in 2012, where she has been the starting goalie ever since. Kessler backstopped the Furies to their first championship in 2014, where she was named Clarkson Cup MVP.

This season, things were a bit rocky in Toronto, with three of Kessler's four victories coming against the lowly Boston Blades. Her other win was a 6-5 victory in a veritable shooting gallery of a game against the Calgary Inferno. Calgary outshot Toronto 45-25 in that one, and Kessler was a big part of why her team was able to eke out the W.

Kessler definitely has the ability to steal a game; she has faced the second most rubber in the CWHL this season (after only Blades goalie Geneviève Lacasse), and is no stranger to seeing a lot of action, something she can likely expect from the offensively minded Canadiennes in the semifinals.

Photo Credit: CWHL



AGE: 33


HEIGHT: 5 ft 9 in


STATS: 17-2-0 with 5 shutouts, a 1.52 GAA and .925 SV%

WHY SHE'S AWESOME: Charline Labonté has been one of the most successful goaltenders in women's hockey history. In 1999, she became just the second woman to play in the QMJHL, appearing in 26 games that season. She has been part of Hockey Canada's Olympic program since 2002, where she was the third goaltender. She led Canada to the 2006 gold medal and she was also part of the 2010 and 2014 gold medal winning squads.

Labonté played college hockey at McGill University, where she posted a 69-2 conference record. During Labonté's five seasons with the Martlets from 2006-2012 (she missed the 2009-10 season due to the Vancouver Winter Olympics), she helped her team to three national titles.

Charlie, as she is called by her friends and teammates, began her CWHL career in 2012-13 as a member of the Montreal Stars organization. She has made Clarkson Cup final appearances in each of her two seasons in the league (she didn't play with the Stars in 2014 due to the Sochi Winter Olympics).

Named the 2015 CWHL Goalie of the Year, and a likely candidate for 2016, the one thing missing from Labonté's mantle is a Clarkson Cup championship.

WHO HAS THE EDGE: The edge here has to go to Charline Labonté. She's coming into Montreal's matchup with Toronto on a three-game winning streak during which she only gave up a total of two goals. She had the best numbers in the CWHL this season, and has a lot of experience in big games. Kessler has had success in the CWHL and is good enough to steal a game or two for Toronto.