The Montreal Stars will miss the Clarkson Cup championship game for only the second time in the six year history of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League trophy.
The three-time champions lost to the Toronto Furies 2-1 in a shootout after 60 minutes and a 10-minute four-on-four overtime ended deadlocked. The Stars were trailing 1-0 after two periods when Emmanuelle Blais scored on a wrist shot on the left wing to tie the game. In the shootout, after Canadian Olympian Nathalie Spooner scored to win the game. Sarah Vaillancourt had a chance to extend the shootout but wasn’t able to beat Toronto goaltender Christina Kessler.
Montreal’s Julie Chu was among several Stars playing wishing the tournament’s format allowed for an ending not involving a shootout.
“I’m never a fan of shootouts,” she told the CWHL’s website. “Overtime is my preference.”
The Stars had made it to the final game in four of the five previous seasons. Montreal split the first two games of the Clarkson Cup, losing their opener to Boston 1-0 and then beating the Calgary Inferno 5-4.
Montreal had the regular season’s best record, going 19-2-2 over the season. However, the season ended with them going 1-2-1 over the last four games of their season. Overall, it was a successful season for the Stars but like most teams had to deal with the loss of several Olympians over the season.
Among the Olympians the Stars hope to get back next season are Charline Labonte, Catherine Ward and Meghan Agosta-Marciano.
If anything, this season has proven the parity among the five teams in the league and talent that the game of women’s hockey has throughout the country and into the United States. Of course, this league doesn’t even include players who usually play in the NCAA or CIS.
The Stars are obviously disappointed with the result of the Clarkson Cup after such a successful regular season, but it’s hard to argue that the parity in the league isn’t a good thing for the league and the game going forward.