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‘I’m going to look for the C for Les Canadiennes not the letter that’s on my jersey’: Ann-Sophie Bettez leads team on weekend road trip

The defending champions have a new captain as they head on the road for two games

Shanna Martin

Ann-Sophie Bettez hasn’t been a captain since she was a child, but when she puts on her jersey on Saturday night against the Markham Thunder, she won’t be looking for or playing for anything different.

“I’m going to look for the C for Les Canadiennes not the letter that’s on my jersey,” she said, laughing, at the team’s final practice before heading on the road. Bettez has been a leader at Dawson College, with the McGill Martlets, and with Les Canadiennes but had only worn an ‘A’. She will be wearing the ‘C’ for Montreal this season, starting on Saturday.

Bettez is the fourth member of an exclusive group. She joins assistant coach Lisa-Marie Breton-Lebreux, defender Cathy Chartrand and Marie-Philip Poulin, now with the Canadian Olympic team, as the only captains in the team’s history, now in its 11th year.

“There are big shoes to fill,” Bettez said. “I’ve learned a lot from them in the past, being on the team while they were there.”

The team held a player’s vote last Saturday and Bettez found out at practice like the rest of the team when head coach Dany Brunet announced it. Bettez did not vote for herself.

“I was quite surprised. I didn’t expect to be named captain,” she said. “It’s a great honour especially coming from the girls and hopefully I’ll be able to rise to the challenge.”

“I don’t think I need to bring something different because if the girls nominated me it’s because I was doing something right in the first place and it’s just a matter to stay true to myself and I try to show a lot by example and do what I’ve been doing all along.”

Les Canadiennes are on the road this weekend and, in an odd twist, will face two different teams in the Toronto area. Usually weekend series are against the same team, but Montreal will face both the Markham Thunder on Saturday and the Toronto Furies on Sunday. It makes it hard as the Canadiennes play Saturday night and then Sunday afternoon against a rested Toronto team.

“It will be different because normally you play one game and then you have time to adjust for the next game but this time we play a game and it will be a different team on the next day but at the end of the day it’s a hockey game,” Bettez said.

Both teams are coming off of the first Chinese road trip in CWHL history, and it didn’t go great on the ice for the two teams as they combined for an 0-7-1 record with the Furies mustering a lone shootout loss.

Markham is currently 3-7-2 in fifth place and are led by Jamie Lee Rattray. The veteran forward has eight goals and three assists this season to lead the team. Kristen Richards is second on the team with three goals and three assists. Both players have played 12 games this season.

The Thunder have split their goaltending duties this season between veterans Erica Howe and Liz Knox. Howe is 2-4-0 with a 2.23 GAA and .935 save percentage this season. She has two shutouts. Knox is 1-5-0 with a 2.95 GAA and .901 save percentage. I would expect Howe to get the start, as Markham only has one game this weekend.

Montreal has played the Thunder twice this season Oct 28-29 in Markham. They won both games, 1-0 and 3-2, in overtime.

The Furies are 3-6-1 this season, and sit one point behind Markham. They are led by Emily Fulton, who has four goals this season. Sonja van der Bliek is having a great first year as Toronto’s starter following the retirement of Christina Kessler.

Van der Bliek is 2-5-1 with a 2.49 GAA and .925 save percentage. Amanda Makela and Sami Jo Small have both played one game each for the Furies as well.

Montreal has yet to play Toronto this year.

For Les Canadiennes, they look to get back on track after a series against the Kunlun Red Star that saw them lose two out of three. Montreal sits in fourth place in the CWHL but have played two fewer games than anyone else in the league. They are 5-2-0 this season.

“What matters is we learn from the situation and move forward,” Bettez said.

Montreal hasn’t played since November 14, and their seven games have been played since October 14. They have yet to play two weekends in a row but now have three weekends in a row with games starting this week.

“We haven’t played consecutive weekends and it’s been a challenge,” Bettez said. “Yes you can practice twice a week but nothing is the same as games so we’re really looking forward to these three upcoming weekends and every point will count. We need to play hard and we miss actually playing. We’re annoyed of practices and we just want to play other teams.... We’re really eager to play.”

They should get Emerance Maschmeyer back this weekend. Maschmeyer didn’t dress in the final game of the Kunlun series with an expected injury, but was at practice this week. She is 3-1 in four games this year, with a 1.72 GAA and .935 GAA. Catherine Herron is 2-1 with a 3.71 GAA and .853 save percentage.

Cathy Chartrand leads the team in scoring with three goals and five assists. Kayla Tutino has three goals and three assists. Bettez (4G, 1A) is in a group with forwards Noemie Marin (4G, 1A), Kim Deschenes (1G, 4A), and defender Cassandra Poudrier (0G, 5A) at five points.

Saturday’s game is at 7:30 p.m. at the Thornhill Community Centre and will be streamed at TheCWHL.com. Sunday will be at the Mastercard Centre with a 1:00 p.m. start.