Women’s hockey weekend roundup: Force split opening weekend, Poulin shines in Truro

The expansion PHF team plays their first games and the PWHPA was in Nova Scotia.

The Montreal Force started their first season on the road in Buffalo where they split their first two games against the hometown Beauts. On Saturday night, they won their first game 5-4 in a shootout, and then lost the second game on Sunday afternoon, 3-2.

The first goal in team history was scored by the team’s leader and captain Ann-Sophie Bettez. She deftly tipped the Catherine Daoust point shot to tie the game at 1-1.

Just 18 seconds later, Jade Downie-Landry scored her first professional goal and the Force took a 2-1 lead. Less than three minutes later, Buffalo tied the game at 2-2, which is how the game ended after 20 minutes.

After Buffalo scored the only goal of the second period, the third period saw three more goals get scored. Montreal once again scored in bunches. With only 3:35 to go, Sarah Lefort tied the game at 2-2, and just nine seconds later, Kim Deschênes scored to give Montreal a late 4-3 lead.

The Beauts would tie the game again shortly after. Three-on-three overtime solved nothing, despite the Force needing to kill a four-on-three power play for the final 1:22.

The shootout needed extra time as well. Buffalo’s Emma Nuutinen scored on Buffalo’s first shot, and Kim Deschênes scored on Montreal’s third, but that would be all the scoring until the eighth round of the shootout when Samantha Isbell scored for Montreal. Tricia Deguire stopped Michaela Boyle to secure the victory.

“[It was a] good win for our group, said Force head coach Peter Smith. “I thought we got better as the game progressed. I highly liked the third period, we still have a lot of things to work on but it’s great to get the first win on the road.”

On Sunday, Buffalo got out to a 2-0 first period lead with Whitney Dove and Allison Attea scoring on Marie-Soleil Deschênes.

Early in the second period, Deziray De Sousa scored to make it 2-1 on her first professional goal. Montreal had to fight hard to keep the game within reach as Sarah Lefort took a five minute penalty for checking from behind late in the second period. After they killed that entire penalty, Brooke Stacey took another penalty.

The Force would eventually fight through it as Kristina Shanahan scored shortly after Stacey’s penalty expired to tie the game at 2-2 early in the third period.

The tie would be short lived. Just over four minutes later, Autumn MacDougall scored for Buffalo, and the Force were unable to get the equalizer.

“It was a good game today,” said Smith. “We did a lot of good things in many ways. We played better today than yesterday. Five-on-five we controlled the play but we have to stay out of the penalty box. Overall a good weekend for the group... We need to play games and this is a good start.”

“It’s something that we needed, we only played one exhibition game so we definitely wanted to get more games in,” said Downie-Landry. “It’s an opportunity for us to get better and that’s what we did this weekend.”

The McGill alum had an assist on De Sousa’s goal on Sunday in addition to her goal on Saturday night. She expects the team to get better as they get more games under their belt.

With two points through their first two games, they currently sit fourth in the PHF standings. They are off the next two weekends, before making their home debut on November 26 and 27. They will host the Metropolitan Riveters in their only two scheduled games in Montreal as their home games are scattered throughout the province. On Saturday, the game will be at the Verdun Auditorium before Sunday’s game in St. Laurent at the Raymond Bourque Arena.

“It’s going to be electric, we’re going to have a lot of people, I know everyone is excited to be playing there,” said Downie-Landry. “We’re all looking forward to it.”

Twenty-one of the 22 remaining games will be broadcast on TVA Sports or TVA Sports 2, with the lone other game being streamed free on TVASports.ca. All games will be broadcast on TSN.ca and the TSN app in English.

The Professional Women’s Hockey Players’ Association (PWHPA) was also in action this weekend with a three-day event in Truro, Nova Scotia.

Marie-Philip Poulin had goals in all three games she played as Team Harvey’s went 3-0 on the weekend. Poulin scored the overtime winner in the first game on Friday, a 3-2 win over Team Adidas, then had a goal in their 6-2 win over Team Sonnet on Saturday. On Sunday, she scored in Harvey’s 5-1 win over Team Scotiabank.

She added two assists in Sunday’s game. Ann-Renée Desbiens earned the win in Friday and Sunday’s contests.

Mélodie Daoust had a goal and an assist in a losing effort on Saturday in Team Scotiabank’s loss to Team Adidas.

The four PWHPA teams this year are not region-based so players who train in Montreal are scattered amongst the four teams. Their next games are later this month when they head to Pittsburgh on November 26 and 27.

All Secret Dream Gap Tour games will determine who will win the Secret Cup at the end of the season. All games are streamed worldwide on CBCSports.ca or on the CBC Gem app.

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