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Les Canadiennes sweep the Worcester Blades to get back on track

A milestone weekend saw Montreal outscore their opponent 13-1.

Shanna Martin / CWHL

Les Canadiennes bounced back from two losses in Calgary last weekend to hand the Worcester Blades a sweep of their own with 6-1 and 7-0 wins this weekend at the Place Bell community rink that saw several players reach milestones.

Saturday: W 6-1
by David S. Landsman

After a disappointing couple of games last weekend in Calgary, Les Canadiennes returned home and made easy work of the visiting Worcester Blades, routing them by a 6-1 score.

The win was interim head coach Caroline Ouellette’s first win as the bench boss.

“The energy on the bench tonight was great; good changes were made, and we had the puck for the most part of the game, so it was very satisfying,” said Ouellette. “Overall I thought we played well.”

Montreal were also coming into the game having to tend to key injuries to three of their top forwards. Mélodie Daoust, Jill Saulnier and Katia Clement-Heydra were all in the press box, leaving Les Canadiennes with only 10 forwards. Defender Emma Martin was used as a forward.

It was Montreal captain Marie-Phillip Poulin who was the first to light the lamp in Saturday’s contest, burying a rebound off an Erin Ambrose shot just under six minutes in.

“Today was a good start, we know how well Worcester plays, and [Worcester goaltender Lauren Dahm] made some unbelievable saves, so we had to stick to our game plan,” said Poulin. “After just one goal in the first, we threw more shots on net in the second, and we got more goals, so we went from there.”

The game was a chippy one, with both sides taking the body, and towards the end of the first, Les Canadiennes got into a bit of penalty trouble, taking off-setting minors 84 seconds apart, and giving Worcester a two-player advantage for 34 seconds. However, Emerance Maschmeyer was hardly tested.

Towards the end of the second minor, Montreal forward Karell Emard broke out shorthanded with a burst of speed, and got the puck past Dahm for her first tally of the season.

“It was time. Coming back from Calgary, we had team [and individual] goals,” said Emard. “And by the end of the game, I think we were able to execute a good three periods and get the win.”

The home team was able to add to their lead when rookie forward Maude Gelinas got her second of the young season.

By the end of the second, the game was all Montreal, up 3-0 and outshooting the Blades 33-10.

Midway through the third, Emard and Poulin each got their second goals of the game, scoring 15 seconds apart.

Dahm, was pulled after allowing five goals on 44 shots.

Late in the game, with Montreal on their fourth power play of the evening, they were able to capitalize when veteran blueliner Lauriane Rougeau found a juicy rebound and sent it past Worcester goaltender Jetta Rackleff. It was Rougeau’s first goal of the season.

“It’s been a couple of games that I’ve been knocking on the door, and it hasn’t been going in, you just have to work through,” said Rougeau. “It was a great play by my teammates, so it feels good to put one in.”

Just 49 seconds later, Maschmeyer’s shutout ended when Meghan Grieves poked the puck through the pads, giving the Blades their only goal of the night.

However, the game was all Montreal, winning 6-1, and by the end of 60 minutes, the shot clock read 55-14.

There were a lot of positives from the point of view of coach Ouellette.

“Tonight they responded very well,” said Ouellette. “I think for us, they need to keep it up, playing a fast and high-tempo game no matter who we play against.

Sunday: W 7-0
by: Jared Book

Ann-Sophie Bettez had a goal and three assists and Marie-Soleil Deschenes made 10 saves en route to a 7-0 win over the Blades on Sunday afternoon.

Bettez’s third assist in the second period to give Montreal a 7-0 lead was enough to put her in sole possession of third spot in all-time CWHL scoring, ahead of current CWHL interim commissioner and Hockey Hall of Famer Jayna Hefford with 235 career points.

“We don’t play for that,” Bettez said about the individual accomplishment. “But I’ve had the opportunity to play with some great players so it’s hard for me to not say thank you to them because I wouldn’t be here without any of them. But what’s most important to us, and our end goal, is to win the Clarkson Cup so if I can score some goals to get to that point, that’s even more gratifying.”

Deschenes’ shutout was her third straight shutout in her third career start, becoming the first goaltender in league history to do that. Marie-Philip Poulin also tied Jennifer Botterill for fifth all-time in CWHL scoring.

“It was my first start in Montreal,” Deschenes said. “To put a performance and be able to play in front of friends and family was fun.”

Les Canadiennes opened the scoring early on as Erin Ambrose fired a wrist shot past Blades goaltender Mariah Fujimagari 5:29 into the game and Montreal didn’t stop there. They would score three goals in a span of 56 seconds midway through the period to open up a 4-0 lead on two goals from Sarah Lefort and another from Maude Gelinas.

They added a fifth goal from Kim Deschênes less than two minutes later.

Second period goals from Bettez and Poulin would get the score to 7-0, which is the way the game finished.

The line of Lefort, Emard and Deschenes had a great weekend, which was even more necessary because of injuries to Katia Clement-Heydra and Melodie Daoust in addition to Jill Saulnier, who was already out of action.

The line combined for four goals at even strength over the weekend but added a shorthanded goal and power play goal as well.

“We’ve taken it one step at a time, one game at a time,” said Lefort. “And this weekend it just clicked, a little bit better chemistry, we don’t even have to look to see where we are on the ice.”

Jetta Rackleff came into the game in relief for the Blades midway through the second period and saved all 21 shots she faced. Fujimagari made 18 saves on 25 shots.

Les Canadiennes now get set to go to Shenzhen, China for three games starting on December 12. The team leaves Montreal on December 8.