After over two weeks of build up, the CWHL Awards gala on Friday and a community day on Saturday, the stage is set for the Calgary Inferno and Les Canadiennes to face off in a winner-take-all showdown for the Clarkson Cup.
This is Calgary's first appearance in the final, while this is Montreal's sixth. Montreal has three Clarkson Cup but lost their last two appearances in the final, including last year's in overtime.
"We definitely know what it takes to win a Clarkson Cup" said Canadiennes forward Noémie Marin. "We’ve been on both sides of it, winning and then losing last year in overtime against Boston. It’s been a motivation for us coming into this year. As a team we all want the same goal, even the girls who joined our team this year. I think they moulded well with our philosophy that the Clarkson Cup is our end goal."
For Calgary, they added a top four defender in Brigette Lacquette and they added their captain (Brianne Jenner), a future hall of famer (Hayley Wickenheiser) and three other top nine forwards (rookie of the year Elana Lovell, and Team Canada forwards Jill Saulnier and Blayre Turnbull). And that was only in the first seven rounds of this past draft.
"I think we’re a very hard working team that doesn’t give up," said Saulnier. "We have a lot of depth and that was known around the league before the season started. I think going into this Clarkson Cup we are the underdog and that could benefit us."
They also started the year without Olympians Rebecca Johnston and Meaghan Mikkelson, but both have been instrumental in their stretch run which included a sweep of the Brampton Thunder.
Montreal won the season series 4-2 over Calgary, but none of those games actually had both teams at full strength. The two games that Montreal played when Johnston and Mikkelson were in the lineup, they were missing Julie Chu and Jordanna Peroff.
"The players they have on that team are very well respected," said Saulnier. "They are some of the best in the world so it’s important that we do respect that but remember that we’re in a game to win and that’s what we have to do."
These two teams were the pre-season favourites and to have both at full strength heading into the biggest game of the year is great for fans and for the league.
The game starts at 4 p.m. and is on Sportsnet's main network in Canada.
|Left Wing||Center||Right Wing|
|24 Ann-Sophie Bettez||29 Marie-Philip Poulin||9 Kim Deschênes|
|10 Noémie Marin||19 Katia Clement-Heydra||13 Caroline Ouellette|
|47 Emmanuelle Blais||20 Jordanna Peroff||71 Leslie Oles|
|62 Emilie Bocchia||11 Alyssa Sherrard||77 Sara Lachance|
|5 Lauriane Rougeau||21 Julie Chu|
|8 Cathy Chartrand (C)||6 Carly Hill|
|23 Sophie Brault||76 Karell Emard|
|12 Chelsey Saunders|
|32 Charline Labonté|
|67 Sydney Aveson|
|6 Rebecca Johnston||19 Brianne Jenner (C)||27 Jill Saulnier|
|15 Elana Lovell||22 Hayley Wickenheiser||26 Blayre Turnbull|
|17 Bailey Bram||20 Jessica Campbell||9 Sarah Davis|
|7 Brittany Esposito||28 Louise Warren||14 Jenna Cunningham|
|16 Kristen Hagg|
|12 Meaghan Mikkelson-Reid||18 Aina Takeuchi|
|24 Hayleigh Cudmore||4 Brigette Lacquette|
|8 Erica Kromm||11 Jacquie Pierri|
|3 Kelsey Webster||5 Kanae Aoki|
|30 Delayne Brian|
|1 Kathy Desjardins|