It wasn’t conventional, but Les Canadiennes beat the Brampton Thunder 5-1 at the Complexe Sportif Bell to sweep their best-of-three semifinal and advance to the Clarkson Cup final for the third straight season.
It was one of the most bizarre games you will ever see. It was already running behind because the previous game on the ice was running long. Then, when warmups started, both teams came out wearing white jerseys. The referees decided that one team had to change.
The problem with that, due to a miscommunication, is that Brampton only brought one jersey. Even though they were playing in Montreal, Brampton becomes the home team for game two. Because of that, most Canadiennes players only had their white road jerseys.
So after a delay to find jerseys and update the lineup sheet, Brampton came out in blue Brossard Mustang jerseys. Then, due to heavy rain, there were two power outages that delayed the start of the second period and right after Montreal took a 4-1 lead in the third period.
“It was one of the longest games,” said Marie-Philip Poulin. “I’m really happy with the fans that stayed the whole game. We were always wondering if they would stay but we’re happy with the outcome.”
Marie-Philip Poulin opened the scoring just 16 seconds into the game. She took a feed from Ann-Sophie Bettez, and won a battle with Brampton’s Courtney Birchard before breaking in on Liz Knox alone. She went forehand-backhand to put the puck in.
“We knew they were going to come back strong,” said Poulin. “We wanted to put pressure on them right away. It was a great play by [Caroline Ouellette] and [Bettez] and I was lucky enough to get that semi-break.”
Less than five minutes later, Bettez scored one of the more incredible goals you would ever see when she passed it to herself short-handed and beat Knox when alone one-on-one.
To Brampton’s credit, they fought back hard after Montreal took a 2-0 lead. After a second Montreal penalty gave the Thunder a 5-on-3, Jess Jones drove to the net and put one past Charline Labonté to cut the lead to 2-1.
But, once again, Montreal’s power play took advantage of their opportunities. After five power play goals the day before, Poulin drove a one-timer home from the top of the zone to re-open a two-goal Montreal lead.
Montreal opened up the 4-1 lead when Noémie Marin tipped in a pass from Lauriane Rougeau with less than 10 minutes in the third period. Kim Deschênes scored an empty net goal to make it 5-1.
Les Canadiennes shut Brampton down offensively and really didn’t allow many chances throughout the game. Labonté made 24/25 saves in the win. Liz Knox was outstanding for Brampton despite allowing four goals, making some great saves throughout the game, especially on the penalty kill.
Knox made 30 saves in the loss.
Montreal will now play the winner of the third and deciding game between the Calgary Inferno and Toronto Furies this afternoon in Calgary. The Clarkson Cup will take place Sunday, March 5 at 4:00 p.m. at the Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa.
Tickets for that game are available here.