It was anything but a typical Sunday afternoon at the Canadian Tire Centre, as the Clarkson Cup rolled into town. This marked the first time that the championship game of the Canadian Women's Hockey League (CWHL) took place in an NHL-size arena. Over 4,000 people were in attendance for the game. The Calgary Inferno and Les Canadiennes de Montreal faced off, showcasing some key match-ups between Olympic teammates.
Team Canada captains Hayley Wickenheiser (Calgary) and Caroline Ouellette (Montreal) put their national allegiances aside to battle for the cup. Both teams featured a number of Olympic athletes. Rebecca Johnston, Meaghan Mikkelson-Reid and Brianne Jenner laced up the skates for Calgary. While Marie-Philip Poulin, Charline Lebonte and Julie Chu all took the ice for Montreal.
Under three minutes after puck drop, Rebecca Johnston of the Calgary Inferno opened the scoring after the picked up a rebound and put it past Montreal goalie Charlione Lebonte. Brianne Jenner and Jillian Saulnier both picked up assists on the goal.
Brianne Jenner took a penalty just over six minutes into the first period. Montreal would capitalize on the power play moments later as Marie-Philip Poulin tied up the game for her team, with Caroline Ouellette and Ann-Sophie Bettez picking up assists.
A little over five minutes later, Calgary took another penalty when Erica Kromm was called for body checking. Montreal would head to their second power play of the game. Thanks to some brilliant goaltending from Calgary net-minder Delayne Brian, Calgary managed to kill of the penalty and keep the game tied.
Calgary got their turn on the power play with four minutes to go in the period, as Katia Clement-Heydra was sent to the penalty box. Before the penalty announcement was made, Brianne Jenner scored to make it 2-1 for Calgary. Rebecca Johnston picked up an assist on the goal, giving her and Jenner their second points of the game.
Just under three minutes into the second period, Jessica Campbell took advantage of a scramble in front of Montreal's net, scoring her first goal of the game and giving Calgary a 3-1 lead. Sarah Davis was awarded an assist on the goal.
It wasn't long before Calgary found themselves in the penalty box again. Aina Takeuchi took a two-minute penalty for body checking, putting Montreal on yet another power play. However, they were unable to capitalize on this one.
At the half-way point of the period, Blayre Turnbull picked up the puck in the high slot and dangled around every player who tried to get in her way. She finished this incredible play by putting the puck past Lebonte and making it 4-1 for Calgary. Hayley Wickenheiser got the assist on what was the best goal of the game at that point.
In a bizarre sequence of events a few minutes later, Montreal thought they scored their second goal of the game. But it was called back because (to quote the referee) a Montreal player was standing inside the crease. According to Twitter, the play was actually called back because of goaltender interference. Regardless, the sore remained unchanged at 4-1 for Calgary.
That was until Noemie Marin made sure to put the puck in the net and make it count, giving Montreal their actual second goal of the game (assisted by Caroline Ouellette). Any threat to Calgary's three-goal lead was eliminated shortly after when Blayre Turnbull scored her second of the game, making it 5-2 for Calgary. Hayley Wickenheiser and Brigette Lacquette both grabbed assists on the goal. Despite outshooting Calgary 28-19 after two periods, Montreal found themselves down 5-2 heading into the third period.
In the first five minutes of the third period, Montreal's Ann-Sophie Bettez went to the penalty box for holding. When it looked like Montreal was about to kill off the penalty, Jessica Campbell scored her second of the game, putting Calgary up 6-2 with 14 minutes remaining.
And just in case that wasn't enough to put this away, Rebecca Johnston scored (again) to make it 7-2 for the Calgary Inferno.
Montreal would score before the final buzzer, as Kim Deschenes netted her first of the game. Bettez and Poulin picked up assists on the goal, but it wouldn't be enough to spark a comeback. Don't fault them for trying though. With 5:54 left in the game, and down 7-3, Montreal pulled Lebonte and threw on the extra skater.
This would force Delayne Brian to make a few more incredible saves (like she hadn't done that enough already), and made for some very interesting hockey in the final minutes. I have to give credit to Montreal for continuing to play their hearts out right until the end, even with Calgary's significant lead. Despite their efforts, they were unable to beat Brian, who had a fantastic game.
Brianne Jenner would score an empty-net goal for Calgary, giving them an 8-3 lead, which is exactly how they finished the game. The Calgary Inferno are your CWHL Clarkson Cup champions!