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CWHL weekend preview: Olympic talent convenes on Place Bell as Canadiennes host Calgary Inferno

Fifteen Olympians from 2018 will clash as two of the top teams in the CWHL start their season.

jenner poulin inferno canadiennes clarkson cup Shanna Martin

Les Canadiennes and the Calgary Inferno have a rivalry that has budded in recent years thanks to back-to-back Clarkson Cup final matchups in 2016 and 2017 and each team winning once. Last year, both teams fell in the semi-finals but are raring to go with their Olympians back in the fold.

The arena for the first of the two games is the state-of-the-art Place Bell. The 10,000 seat amphitheatre in a professional venue is a stage befitting of the players on it. The community rink will host the second game on Sunday afternoon.

Weekend schedule

Saturday, October 13 - Place Bell - 6:30 p.m.
Sunday, October 14 - Place Bell Community Rink - 1:00 p.m.

How to Watch

Saturday: Online stream (Free / CWHL Live)

Directions, parking, and public transit info

Single-game tickets (Saturday Canadiennes game only)
Single-game tickets (Sunday)

World-class talent on display

Between the two teams, there will be 15 Olympians from the 2018 Olympic Games in PyeongChang (nine on Calgary, six on Montreal). Of those, 13 were on Team Canada and Team USA. On top of that, an additional seven have represented their country at the senior level or are a part of their National Team program for a total of 22.

Calgary and Montreal are the two CWHL teams with the most National team players.

Shannon Miller, Calgary’s head coach, coached Canada at the 1998 Olympics and is one of the best women’s hockey coaches of all time.

Friends to foes

Geneviève Lacasse joked that half the games she plays is against a team she has played for before. Montreal is Lacasse’s third CWHL team in the six team league. Lacasse and Jill Saulnier were acquired this summer from the Calgary Inferno one year after Emerance Maschmeyer came from Calgary to Montreal.

And that’s just on the club level. Obviously with so many Olympians, many will play each other or play together after years of playing on the other side. The Canadian players may be used to it, but Americans Brianna Decker, Kacey Bellamy and Hilary Knight will be split at the club level for the first time.

Brianne and Brianna

For years, Brianna Decker and Brianne Jenner have played against each other but now they become teammates. This is notable not just because I used to always confuse the two, but because they are two of the top players in the game.

Not many teams can compete with Montreal’s one-two punch on their top two lines, but Calgary’s two centres are definitely world class.

Decker should be in the conversation for the best player in the world. She has played in 45 professional games between the CWHL and NWHL. In those games, she has 44 goals and 48 assists (92 points). She has also played in nine professional playoff games, scoring 11 goals and adding 11 assists (22 points).

A New Era

In the past, this rivalry would mean Charline Labonté, Hayley Wickenheiser, Caroline Ouellette, Brittany Esposito, Delayne Brian, and Noémie Marin. Now, it is up to the new generation to foster the rivalry, lifted by names like Jenner, Decker, Poulin, and Hilary Knight.

Some of these names like Lefort, Krzyzaniak, Ambrose, Maschmeyer, and Gosling may not be household names yet, but they should be. They are not the future of women’s hockey. They are very much the present.

Sister Act

Calgary added a pair of sisters to the team this year. Zoe Hickel played last year for the Kunlun Red Star (28 GP, 12G-26A), who beat the Inferno in the semi-final last season but joined the Inferno this year as a free agent. The team also drafted her sister Tori, who played the last two years in Sweden with Djurgårdens. This will be their first professional game together.

In related news, Zoe also brought a companion with her to Montreal.

Rosters

Les Canadiennes

Forwards

Left Wing Centre Right Wing
Left Wing Centre Right Wing
15- Mélodie Daoust 29- Marie Philip Poulin 24- Ann-Sophie Bettez
21- Hilary Knight 16- Sarah Lefort 11- Jill Saulnier
76- Karell Emard 19- Katia Clement-Heydra 9- Kim Deschênes
2- Olivia Atkinson 78- Tracy-Ann Lavigne 18- Geneviève Bannon
22- Maude Gelinas

Defence

Left Defence Right Defence
Left Defence Right Defence
17- Melanie Desrochers 14- Erin Ambrose
5- Lauriane Rougeau 27- Taylor Willard
23- Sophie Brault 12- Catherine Daoust
20- Marie-Joelle Allard 72- Emma Martin

Goaltenders

Goaltenders
Goaltenders
38- Emerance Maschmeyer
60- Geneviève Lacasse
35- Marie-Soleil Deschênes

Calgary Inferno

Forwards

Left Wing Centre Right Wing
Left Wing Centre Right Wing
6- Rebecca Johnston 19- Brianne Jenner 40- Blayre Turnbull
16- Rebecca Leslie 14- Brianna Decker 44- Zoe Hickel
7- Venla Hovi 8- Erica Kromm 28- Louise Warren
10- Rhianna Kurio 11- Eden Murray 9- Dakota Woodsworth
2- Laura Dostaler 13- Kelty Apperson 17- Kaitlyn Willoughby

Defence

Left Defence Right Defence
Left Defence Right Defence
4- Brigette Lacquette 22- Kacey Bellamy
21- Halli Krzyzaniak 51- Katelyn Gosling
5- Kelly Murray 3- Tori Hickel
18- Aina Mizukami

Goaltenders

Goaltenders
Goaltenders
1- Alex Rigsby
33- Lindsey Post
41- Annie Belanger