For the sixth time in six games this season, the Markham Thunder and Les Canadiennes needed extra time to solve things. But for the first time, it was the Thunder who won in game one of their CWHL semi-final, taking the game 2-1.
Jamie Lee Rattray converted the second of two short-handed breakaways they had in the opening minutes of overtime, scoring at 5:05 of the first overtime period to secure the win.
Markham’s Kristen Richards took an early elbowing penalty just under four minutes into overtime. A Cathy Chartrand shot came close when it deflected off of Lefort. But shortly after Taylor Woods had a shorthanded chance, Rattray came in on a one on one with Chartrand, and was able to pass the Canadiennes defender and take the puck to the net to beat Emerance Maschmeyer.
“You don’t expect two breakways on a [power play], but it happened”, said the Montreal netminder who remained confident in her team. “If we play to our potential, we will dominate tomorrow.”
Maschmeyer was tested early, making a glove save and a pad save in the opening two minutes of the period. She followed those up shortly after when she slid to the front of the crease thwarting yet another scoring chance.
Montreal’s best chance came off of a rush from defender Melanie Desrochers, who went around the Thunder defence and passed the puck to Caroline Ouellette, who had an open net but she put the shot over the net. Les Canadiennes had other opportunities but could not beat Markham goaltender Erica Howe.
“When [Howe] is playing like that it gives the whole group confidence,” said forward Jamie Lee Rattray, “Every time she goes in net, you know you are going to get her best game.”
The first penalty to Montreal came when Lauriane Rougeau was sent to the box for interferance. Markham tested Maschmeyer, who received help in the form of blocked shots from Melanie Desrochers and Marion Allemoz.
Montreal had their own scoring chance as the penalty died off. Lefort carried the puck in and made the pass to Knight, whos shot was stopped by the Markham netminder. The combination of Lefort and Knight remained dangerous for the entirety of their time as linemates.
Montreal’s first power play came shorty thereafter when Dania Simmonds was sent to the box, the call was again for interference. Montreal had a number of good chances. One of which came again from the combined efforts of Lefort and Knight. Lefort gained possession and passed the puck up ice, where it found the stick of Knight. Knight returned the pass across ice where Lefort fired it just wide.
Markham took another penalty shortly after. With nothing but open ice between her and the net, Lefort fired a well placed shot, that was once again stopped by Howe. A Kim Deschênes opportunity followed, but hit the cross bar. Deschênes's second attempt trickled through the defence however it was stopped by Howe’s pad. Her glove later found the puck again after Knight fired a rocket of a shot on net.
The first goal of the game came when Markham’s Nicole Kosta slipped a pass from Laura McIntosh past Maschmeyer. Canadiennes forward Emmanuelle Blais admitted that the team was “caught off guard” by the goal.
In the closing seconds of the second, Lefort, Knight and Ann-Sophie Bettez kept the heat on Markham, but could not reach the back of the net. In the first two frames Erica Howe remained a question Les Canadiennes could not answer.
Montreal adjusted the lines in the third, putting Caroline Ouellette with Bettez and Lefort and moving Knight to the line with Katia Clement-Hydra and Kim Deschênes.
Les Canadiennes found the answer to Howe in the early minutes of the period when Emmanuelle Blais fired a Allemoz rebound into the net.
The Thunder's Kristen Richards attempted to answer the goal, however her shot hit many bodies before reaching the net, Maschmeyer slid and made the save. Katia Clement-Heydra stepped in to cover the open end of the net.
Clement-Heydra also displayed her skating and puck handling skill as she set Bettez up for a scoring chance, after passing through Markham's defence. Howe stopped that, and was able to close the door on Deschênes who sent the puck five hole.
Tension increased when Laura Stacey slid into Maschmeyer, and was promptly removed by Les Canadiennes players. Knight was then able to draw a hooking call. On the power play a Cathy Chartrand shot was somehow spotted by Howe, despite the screening Knight. Another Canadiennes shot got past Howe, but hit the post.
A Maschmeyer save in the final seconds maintained the score and the game went to overtime.
Game two in the series is scheduled for Saturday at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard. Puck drop is at 7:30pm. It will also be streamed here.
- Montreal was without Karell Emard (suspension) and Noémie Marin (coaching her CEGEP team, where she is head coach) for game one. Both are expected to be in the lineup for game two.