Jill Saulnier scored four goals and added an assist in Les Canadiennes’ 6-2 win on Sunday to secure a split of the weekend series against the Markham Thunder. That came one day after a 2-1 loss, Montreal’s first regulation loss since November.
Saturday: L 2-1
Markham opened the scoring just after a Canadiennes power play. Rookie Victoria Bach took the puck off a bounce from the boards behind the net, and put the puck behind Emerance Maschmeyer.
The game would remain 1-0 despite Montreal outshooting the Thunder 18-6 in the opening frame. Markham would double their lead when a defensive zone breakdown left Bach wide open in the slot, and she made no mistake for her second goal of the game.
Montreal would cut the lead to 2-1 in the second. A great shift by the line of Jill Saulnier, Marie-Philip Poulin, and Ann-Sophie Bettez led to Erin Ambrose firing one off the post an in, finally beating Erica Howe.
That was as close as Montreal would come. Montreal would have a late power play when Jocelyne Larocque went off with less than 40 seconds remaining. Les Canadiennes pulled Maschmeyer to have a six-on-four, but some heroic defending from the Thunder allowed them to secure the win.
Howe made 46 saves in the win. Maschmeyer made 20 saves for the Canadiennes.
Sunday: W 6-2
Les Canadiennes would come out strong in the second half of the back-to-back, scoring two goals in the first 5:22 of the game.
Emard would score her fourth of the season assisted by Katia Clement-Heydra 3:38 into the game, and less than two minutes later, Saulnier scored her first of four on the afternoon assisted by Bettez and Poulin.
Poulin would get a goal of her own just 2:42 into the second period assisted by Saulnier, and then Saulnier scored her second of the game at 7:47 to make it 4-0 Montreal.
“The biggest difference is that we put more pucks in their net than they put in ours,” said Canadiennes goaltender Geneviève Lacasse, who made 24 saves in the win. “We had a better net front presence [Sunday] and created more offence. [On Saturday] Howe played really well.”
Liz Knox, getting her first start after her All-Star game appearance last weekend, came out of the game less than two minutes after Montreal made it 4-0. She made 13 saves on 17 shots. Howe replaced her the rest of the way.
Markham cut the lead to 4-1 when Laura Stacey scored a goal assisted by Bach. After Saulnier completed her hat trick 12:53 into the third to make it 5-1, Bach scored her third goal of the weekend to make it 5-2. She was involved in every Thunder goal on the weekend.
Saulnier scored her fourth of the game assisted by Bettez and Poulin with 30 seconds remaining to make it 6-2.
“[Saulnier]’s been buzzing all season. It might not reflect on the scoresheet every weekend, but she’s been playing hard and playing the right way,” said Lacasse. “We joked that today may have been her first forehand goal of the year because she scored everything backhand.”
For Lacasse, it was her second start of the season after missing the majority of the season with an injury suffered over the summer.
“I’m excited to be back and contribute to the team more than just in the locker room,” she said. “I feel great out there and just really excited to be back out there.”
- With two points this weekend, Montreal is now two points behind the Calgary Inferno with the same number of games played. The two teams face off February 2 and 3 at the Complexe Sportif Bell in Brossard in what may very well decide first place in the CWHL.
- With her start on Saturday, Maschmeyer became the first CWHL goaltender to reach 1000 minutes on the season. She has made 17 starts in Montreal’s 21 games, which makes Lacasse’s return timely as the season gets into the stretch run.
- Poulin had four points over the weekend to increase her scoring lead on the CWHL. She has 18 goals and 21 assists in 39 games, holding a five point lead on her teammate Bettez (15G-19A). Montreal has the top three scorers in points-per-game as Saulnier now has 23 points in 15 games, joining Poulin and Bettez.