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Les Canadiennes fail to complete sweep, struck by Thunder

Brampton’s tight defensive play gives the Thunder the win to split the weekend

Jess Bazal / CWHL

After an five goal performance in Saturday’s win in Brampton, Les Canadiennes were kept at bay in a 4-2 loss against the Thunder on Sunday at the Brampton Memorial Arena.

With only six shots apiece after the first 20 minutes, the first period was a quiet one. A quarter of the way into the frame, Marie-Philip Poulin would put her team shorthanded as she was called for holding, but Les Canadiennes’ PK unit and Charline Labonté would remain perfect to kill off the penalty.

Brampton would regret missing their opportunity to get on the board, as they would eventually be the first of the two teams to crack when Ann-Sophie Bettez found Sarah Lefort, who notched her seventh goal of the season 10 minutes later. Les Canadiennes would head to the dressing room with a one goal lead after 20.

Picking up the pace in the second period, the Thunder’s Rebecca Vint and Shannon MacAulay would score 1:42 apart after the game’s midway mark to take the lead. Less than three minutes later, Montreal’s Caroline Ouellette would connect with Bettez to follow up with her 16th goal of the year.

With the game-tying goal, Bettez jumped ahead of Brampton’s Jess Jones and Ouellette to lead the league in goals this season, and sits tied comfortably with Ouellette in third place with 31 points.

The final frame left much to be desired for Les Canadiennes, who had only five shots on Erica Howe over the deciding 20 minutes of the game as Brampton’s took control of the game.

Montreal failed to take the lead on the powerplay when Kristen Richards took an interference call early on, and Montreal would find themselves at a disadvantage for the fourth time of the game when Carly Hill was issued a 10 minute head contact misconduct shortly before the midway point of the third period.

At the 12:10 mark, Laura Stacey found Laura Fortino to combine for Brampton’s go-ahead goal. Montreal was unable to capitalize on their second powerplay of the game when Brampton’s bench was penalized for too many players on the ice.

In an attempt to tie the game, Les Canadiennes pulled Labonté in the dying 90 seconds, but Stacey would get her third point of the game with the empty net goal to make it 4-2 Brampton with 27 seconds remaining.

After not allowing a goal in relief on Saturday, Howe made 22/24 saves in the win. Charline Labonté made 19/22 saves for Montreal.

With 10 wins now under their belts, Brampton assumes third place overall, with the Toronto Furies trailing closely behind by a single point. Both teams have two games remaining.

Kim Deschênes returned to the lineup for Les Canadiennes after being out several games. Julie Chu missed both games in Brampton as she was coaching her Concordia University team to two wins over the University of Ottawa and Carleton University.

Les Canadiennes will have the opportunity to redeem themselves on home ice next weekend as they face Toronto for the third and final time this season, and will need to collect every point they can get their hands on if they hope to knock Calgary out of first place.

Toronto will also have pressure to perform, as Brampton faces the Boston Blades in the final weekend of the season. If Toronto fails to at least split with Montreal, they will likely finish in fourth place.

Montreal is now four points behind Calgary for first place, but they have secured home-ice advantage in the CWHL semi-finals and will host either Toronto or Brampton in the playoffs. Les Canadiennes will finish the regular season in Calgary. The Inferno will play Boston next weekend.