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CWHL: Les Canadiennes fall to Kunlun Red Star in physical affair

Playing their third game in four days brought out the hostility between the new rivals

Shanna Martin

Playing their third game in four days, Les Canadiennes and the Kunlun Red Star ended their three-game regular season series with a heated and physical game that Kunlun took 6-3 on Tuesday night at the Michel-Normandin Arena.

The ferocity of play increased steadily until it boiled over partway through the third period in the form of a scramble by the Kunlun net. The confrontation led to 26 combined penalty minutes. Montreal’s Sarah Lefort and Kunlun’s Shiann Darkangelo received matching 10 minute misconducts. Melanie Desrochers was called for roughing, while minor penalties were also given to Kunlun’s Zhixin Liu (leaving the bench) and Wen Lu (roughing).

The games’ start was befitting of what it became. Kunlun’s Melanie Ju scored the game’s opening goal less then four minutes in, while on the power play.

Canadiennes netminder Catherine Herron, making her second straight start, made the next save on a shot from Zoe Hickel. When Montreal returned to the penalty kill shorty after (due to a hooking call on Kayla Tutino) Herron made the necessary saves to prevent Kunlun from increasing their lead.

Offensive efforts made by Montreal to tie the game up early were unable to come to fruition due to the fast hands and good vision of Kunlun goalie Noora Räty.

Halfway though the first period, good puck control from Kunlun's Zhixin Liu resulted in her getting the puck into the offensive zone, and making a pass to Kelli Stack, who fired a perfect snap shot past Herron and into the top corner for a 2-0 Kunlun advantage.

Montreal's indiscipline hurt them again shortly after. After killing off a lengthy five-on-three, Madison Woo took advantage of the ensuing five-on-four and was able to send a Shiann Darkangelo pass top shelf.

The pattern of penalties and physical play was carried into the second period by both teams. The checks appeared to be harder are more frequent.

Early in the period Cathy Chartrand generated what appeared to be Les Canadiennes first goal. The referee waived the goal off immediately due to contact with Räty, and an ensuing discussion between the officials didn't change that initial decision.

“We’re down 3-0 and having a goal gives momentum and gives energy to the bench” said Chartrand. “And then it’s called back. It kills you. You have to beat the team and the referees. You have to battle through adversity and find ways to score the next goal.”

Kayla Tutino was able to find a way to do that shortly after, when she tipped a beautiful cross-ice pass from Melanie Desrochers past Räty on the power play.

The game's physicality was not something that bothered Tutino.

“I kind of like it, it adds some fun to the game,” she said.

Montreal’s second goal followed shortly after their first. Chartrand sent a pass up ice to Ann-Sophie Bettez, who was waiting readily by the crease.

Kunlun wasted no time before retaliating as Darkangelo got her third point and revived the two-goal lead.

Karell Emard laid a solid hit early in third, continuing the physicality and aggression displayed from both teams in the earlier periods.

Kunlun’s fifth goal came just over a minute in when Kelli Stack scored her second of the game off an assist from Taylor Marchin roofing a backhand in after a scramble in front

As tensions flared, the scramble featuring Lefort and Darkangelo was the boiling point. The end result of that was Montreal getting a power play which Noémie Marin was able to capitalize with help from Chartrand and Cassandra Poudrier to cut the score to 5-3.

Down five three with three and a half minutes left Montreal pulled their goalie for the extra skater. Stephanie Anderson scored into the empty net, solidifying Kunlun’s 6-3 win.

Notes

  • Montreal had two lineup changes after Sunday's win, with Lore Baudrit in for Erinn Noseworthy at forward while Marie-Soleil Deschênes dressed for her first CWHL game as the backup to Herron. Emerance Maschmeyer was at the arena in street clothes, which could indicate a potential injury.
  • Noora Räty and Annina Rajahuhta played their first game of the series on Tuesday fresh off of a bronze medal at the 4 Nations Cup in Tampa on Sunday. Räty made 35/38 saves as Montreal outshot Kunlun 38-28.
  • Les Canadiennes next game will be December 2-3 when they travel to Ontario to face Markham and Toronto. Their next home game is December 9. Montreal is in second place in the CWHL with a 5-2 record.