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CWHL: Les Canadiennes look to continue winning ways against Markham Thunder

Montreal is looking to extend their season-high four game winning streak this weekend.

Jessica Bazal / CWHL

At 9-2-0, Les Canadiennes are currently second place in the Canadian Women's Hockey League, only behind the Kunlun Red Star who are two points up after a win against the Boston Blades on Saturday morning.

Montreal has had success against their opponents this weekend, the Markham Thunder but it hasn’t been easy. They have won every time they have faced them this season - all three at the Thornhill Community Center but each game went to extra time. Montreal won two games in overtime and one in a shootout.

The first games against the Thunder were back in the end of October on the 28 and 29. The first matchup was a goaltending duel between Emerance Maschmeyer for Montreal and Erica Howe for Markham. After a scoreless draw headed to the extra frame, defender Cathy Chartrand scored 3:35 into overtime. Maschmeyer made 33 saves for her first shutout with Les Canadiennes after coming over in a trade with the Calgary Inferno this summer.

Both Maschmeyer and Howe are alternates with Team Canada.

The next day, it was teammate Sarah Lefort who scored her second of the game in overtime to lift Montreal to victory.

Most recently on December 2, Montreal won 3-2 in a shootout when captain Ann-Sophie Bettez, who scored in regulation, added the winner.

For the Thunder, this has been a season of rebuilding for them. After moving from Brampton to Markham in the off-season, they also lost three of their core players. Rebecca Vint, who Marie-Philip Poulin called her toughest opponent in the league, Jess Jones, who tied with Poulin for the Angela James Bowl for the league scoring lead last year, and Sarah Edney, a former first-round pick of the Thunder. All went to play for the Buffalo Beauts of the National Women's Hockey League.

They lost a couple of core defenders in Jocelyne Larocque and Laura Fortino, both who became centralized in Calgary ahead of the 2018 Olympic Winter Games. Forward Laura Stacey is also centralized with Team Canada.

Although Montreal did lose a few key players to centralization, retirement and personal reasons, they still seem to remain one of the strongest teams in the CWHL, especially with their plans to repeat as Clarkson Cup champions yet again this season.

Maschmeyer is 6-1 this season, with a 1.82 goals-against-average and a .925 save percentage with the one shutout against Markham. Her counterpart in Howe is 3-4-1 with a 2.15 goals-against-average and a .935 save percentage and a couple of shutouts.

Bettez and Noémie Marin lead Les Canadiennes with nine goals each on the season, with Marin getting a hat trick in her team's last game. She also surpassed Jayna Hefford for second place all-time, behind only Caroline Ouellette for most points in CWHL history.

The team will also have their newest acquisition, Erin Ambrose, this weekend. Ambrose was acquired earlier this week from the Toronto Furies in exchange for four draft picks. Ambrose was previously with Team Canada's centralization camp.

Markham is led by Jamie Lee Rattray, who is currently fifth place in league scoring with 10 goals and 16 points through 15 games.

Saturday’s game is at 5:30 p.m. and Sunday’s game will start at 1:30 p.m. Saturday's game will be at the Bell Sports Complex while Sunday's will be at the Michel Normandin arena at the Claude Robillard Sports Complex. Tickets are $15 and are available here.

Saturday will be the team’s You Can Play game and fans are invited to wear rainbow. It will also be streamed on CWHL Live.