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Weekend Preview: Les Canadiennes back in action against Markham Thunder

Montreal looks to build off a successful opening weekend in unfriendly territory

Shanna Martin / Eyes on the Prize

After a weekend of team building activities, Les Canadiennes de Montréal embark on their first road trip of their young 2017-18 season with much to feel good about.

Coming off back-to-back wins against an improving Boston Blades club in their opening weekend, that saw contributions from many faces both new and old, Montreal is looking to build off the momentum.

But a string of wins won’t come easy against the newly-relocated Markham Thunder, who will be hoping for revenge against a Montreal team that eliminated them from the 2017 Clarkson Cup Playoffs with 7-1 and 5-1 victories last year.

Sitting atop the CWHL standings with three wins and six points in their first four outings of their inaugural year, the Thunder have certainly proved that they still have what it takes to battle out for a spot in the league’s top tier, despite a decimated lineup in comparison to last year’s roster.

No stranger to having key players like Jocelyne Larocque and Laura Fortino missing in action as they compete to bring home the gold for Team Canada at the 2018 Winter Olympics, Markham will also need to soldier on without the scoring prowess of Jess Jones, who has taken her talents across the border to the NWHL’s Buffalo Beauts. Jones tied Marie-Philip Poulin for the CWHL scoring lead.

They lost Rebecca Vint and Sarah Edney to the Beauts as well and they also have Laura Stacey centralized with Team Canada.

That’s not to say there isn’t room for others to step up in last year’s top scorer’s absence.

With five goals to show for last weekend’s matchup against the brand new Kunlun Red Star, assistant captain Jamie Lee Rattray found the back of the net four times, the Thunder still have the firepower to get the job done — especially with stellar goaltending to support them on the back end. Rattray’s four goals lead the league.

Stopping a combined 120 out of 123 shots faced in four outings, both Erica Howe and Liz Knox have been lights out for the Markham Thunder, which will certainly prove handy when facing off the high flying Canadiennes, who beat Boston’s goaltender 10 times in their two-game series earlier this month.

Brampton has only allowed three goals in their four games, including two shutouts.

For Montreal’s part, Ann-Sophie Bettez will look to continue dominating play like she had against the Blades, with three points to her name, while Montreal’s rookies and newcomers have made early impressions with Kayla Tutino, Erinn Noseworthy, Natalie Barrette, and Tracy-Ann Lavigne have all found their way onto the scoresheet in 5-2 and 5-3 wins over the league’s southernmost team.

Expect Montreal newcomer Emerance Maschmeyer to get the nod on Saturday in Markham, as she continues to settle into her new role with Les Canadiennes and looks to improve on her .882 save percentage in Montreal’s battle against the CWHL’s top team.

The action at the Thornhill Community Center kicks off at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday and 12:30 p.m. on Sunday, and tickets are still available for purchase on the CWHL website.