It was clear before the puck had even been dropped on Les Canadiennes’ final home game of the regular season that it would be special for Ann-Sophie Bettez. What happened during Montreal’s 2-1 overtime win over Toronto, would just confirm it.
While Montreal and Toronto lined up on their respective blue lines for the national anthem, Bettez skated to centre ice to take the microphone and belt out an incredible bilingual rendition of “O Canada,” much to her teammates’ surprise and delight. Only Caroline Ouellette knew that Bettez would be the one to belt out the anthem. In fact, it was a personal request from the league’s all-time leading scorer.
“It was one of her requests. She was like ‘can you please do it? That’s the only thing I ask you. Can you please sing the anthem? That would be nice for our last home game’ so I said okay, why not?” Bettez said after the game. “I kept it secret from everyone, and it was just a big surprise today.”
The momentum must have carried over, because it took less than three minutes for Bettez to find the back of the net for the 17th time this season, beating Christina Kessler on a great individual rush off a feed from Marie-Philip Poulin.
(clip via TVA Sports)
“My family was here. Yesterday they were here as well. I got two assists but didn’t get any goals, and they were like, ‘can you get a goal?!’” Bettez said after the game. “You can’t really control those things. So I was really happy that I was able to score for them.”
The first period was relatively evenly matched, with Montreal and Toronto each getting 11 shots on goal. The second period was scoreless, although Poulin and Toronto’s Natalie Spooner took turns dazzling the packed Brossard crowd with their stick handling abilities.
By the midway point of the third period, there was a clear momentum shift in Toronto’s favour, whose hard work finally paid off as Kelly Terry beat Charline Labonté stick side, with Erin Ambrose and Michelle Saunders picking up the assists.
60 minutes wouldn’t be enough to determine a winner, as Montreal’s final regular season home game of the year went to added time. Bettez would continue her great day.
She made a backhand pass to the game-winner’s stick - to no one’s surprise, Poulin would be the overtime hero - who put a slap shot by Kessler from the top of the offensive zone, using the extra space that 4-on-4 hockey provides.
With the loss to Montreal, Toronto’s position in the standings was cemented at fourth place. They are currently tied with Brampton Thunder, but the Thunder hold the tie breaker, as well as having two games remaining. Toronto’s final regular season games were this weekend.
That means that the Furies will play the Inferno in Calgary in the CWHL playoffs. Les Canadiennes will host the Brampton Thunder. The semi-finals are a best of three series to be held February 24-26 (if necessary). The home team (Calgary and Montreal respectively) will host each game. Exact times and venues are to be confirmed.
Despite the standings being set, there is still one more weekend of regular season hockey to be played, and there’s still plenty for Canadiennes fans to be on the lookout for. Cathy Chartrand is just one point away from being the first defender in CWHL history to reach 100 career CWHL points. And Ouellette, who tied Jayna Hefford’s scoring record a few weeks ago, remains one goal away from taking sole possession of the all-time goal scoring title.
The league will take a break for the All-Star game next weekend, which kicks off with the Frozen Fantasy Draft in Toronto on Friday night. The captains will select their starting lineup, and the rest of the teams will be chosen from a pick-up hockey style stick selection.
Tickets for the All-Star game, which will host 34 of the league’s best players at the Air Canada Centre on Saturday afternoon, can be purchased for just $10 here.