The names are there. The Calgary Inferno and Les Canadiennes are synonymous when it comes to success in the CWHL.
This year is no different. The two teams enter their first meeting of the year tied for first place (Calgary has played one less game), however many of the familiar faces are not here. The Inferno are not relying on Brianne Jenner, Rebecca Johnston or Meaghan Mikkelson as they (along with five others) are on Team Canada’s Olympic roster.
They are also minus Emerance Maschmeyer, who was traded to Montreal over the summer.
Instead it is a chance for players to step up in their place, though. Rookie Sophie Shirley, who is currently with Canada’s development team in Germany, leads the team in scoring with four goals and seven assists. Returning players Brittany Esposito, Iya Gavrilova, Rhianna Kurio, and Louise Warren are also among the top scorers. Jacquie Pierri, Erica Kromm, Katelyn Gosling and Hayleigh Cudmore lead a veteran defence.
Former Canadienne Brittany Fouracres will play her first game against her former team. She was traded to Calgary after being on Montreal’s Clarkson Cup-winning team.
With Maschmeyer in Montreal and Delayne Brian (2-0, 1.00 GAA, .947%) having suffered an injury early in the season, Lindsay Post, a rookie from the University of Alberta, has stepped into a starring role. Post is 5-0-1 with a 1.97 and .915 save percentage. Post was born in Chelsea, Quebec. Her backup Toni Ross is 3-0-1.
Calgary has not lost in regulation this season. However, they have only played two of their 12 games against opponents in a playoff spot, and that was against Kunlun before they went on their unbelievable run. They were 1-0-1 in those two games.
The second half of their season, and these games in particular will show where Calgary is in relation to the teams battling for top spot.
For Montreal, they are looking to extend their six game winning streak. Les Canadiennes have played four road games, and are 4-0 in those games, although three of those wins have gone to extra time.
Maschmeyer faces her old team on a roll. She is 8-1 this year with a 1.94 GAA and .919 save percentage.
Les Canadiennes captain Ann-Sophie Bettez leads the team in scoring with 10 goals and six assists in 13 games this year and has found chemistry with her linemates Noemie Marin and Karell Emard on Montreal’s top line. Les Canadiennes have gotten contributions up and down the lineup, especially over the last few games. Marion Allemoz is on a five-game point streak and has four goals and five assists in that span. She has also taken a spot on Montreal’s power play.
Erin Ambrose, acquired before the break from the Toronto Furies, has three assists after her first two games with Montreal.
Les Canadiennes play in Calgary Saturday night at 6:00 p.m. Eastern at the Winsport Arena A in a game that can be watched live on CWHL Live. They wrap up the two-game series at the same arena at 12:30 p.m. Eastern on Sunday.