The Montreal Stars had a chance to finish in top spot in the Canadian Women’s Hockey League (CWHL) if they won both games against the Boston Blades. Instead, they were swept in two games as they now set their eyes on the Clarkson Cup.
Sunday’s regular season finale was a 3-1 loss to Boston with Catherine Herron giving Charline Labonte a game off as the game was meaningless in the standings. It was also the last home game for Lisa-Marie Breton-Lebreux who was one of the co-founders of the league and served as captain of the Stars until last season.
“It’s been a roller coaster day. I started receiving a few texts, crying, drying up, crying again, walking into the dressing room and everyone was looking at me knowing it was my last game,” said Breton-Lebreux.
Fans had signs with her number 26 on them, and there were balloons in Stars colours with her number on them as well. Members of the Concordia Stingers women’s hockey team, including head coach Les Lawton – who coached Breton-Lebreux and then had her as an assistant coach – and other Concordia athletes – where Breton-Lebreux works as a strength and conditioning coach – came, most in their jerseys and cheering loudly every time she stepped on the ice for a shift.
“It was emotional seeing the Stingers in the crowd, my parents came and my old friends and teammates,” she said.
Breton-Lebreux was announced in the starting lineup and in the team’s post-game salute to the crowd, she removed her helmet and thanked everyone in attendance for their support. She was also named first star of the game which gave her the ice to herself one last time in Montreal. She will still have at least two games at the Clarkson Cup to finish off her career.
“I’ll have a little more behind me and focus a little more on hockey and not thinking,” she said about having her last home game before her last career games in Markham, Ont for the Clarkson Cup. “I’ll be able to focus and help the team towards the Cup.”
The Stars power play, which I talked about so highly, was stymied by Boston over the two games. The Stars were only 1/14 on the power play in the two games, including 1/11 on Sunday alone. Their only power play goal came with less than three minutes remaining in the third period on Sunday.Both teams battled hard in what could be a championship preview. Photo: Gillian Book
On Saturday, the Stars fell behind early when Jillian Dempsey scored for Boston in the first period, and then Bray Ketchum scored on a wrist shot over Charline Labonte to make it 2-0.
Late in the second period, Montreal’s fourth line of Breton-Lebrux, Chelsea Saunders and Fannie Desforges had a shift that hemmed Boston in their own end. It allowed for several scoring chances but nothing could beat Boston goaltender Brittany Ott.
That shift provided a renewed energy to the Stars who were still in a battle for first place.
“We know we’re just going to get a few shifts so every chance we get, we go all out,” said Breton-Lebreux. “We end up getting some scoring chances out of it. We’re hoping to get the first three lines a break but still bring that energy to keep the momentum going.”
Two shifts after, Ann-Sophie Bettez appeared to score for the Stars to cut the lead to 2-1. The puck bounced off Bettez’s body, fell to the ice where she tried to kick the puck to her stick. She appeared to hit it with her stick, but the referee, somewhat blocked on the play, ruled that the puck was kicked in and the goal was waved off (see photo, click it to enlarge).
“[Julie Chu] took the shot, the rebound hit my stomach and the puck dropped so I kicked the puck with my skate and I told myself if I kick the puck and it goes in, it’s not going to count so I tapped it with my stick but the ref didn’t see it from where she was,” she said.You can judge for yourself, but it looks like Bettez’s stick is touching the puck. Photo: Shanna Martin
“It’s tough to take because when you know deep down the goal is good and it could have changed the entire game,” she said. “A lot was at stake in this game, first place and now we lost it so it’s tough but it’s part of the game.”
Just over a minute into the third period, Kim Deschenes skated in on the left wing, sped around a defender and was able to put the puck right on the tape of Noemie Marin’s stick who put the puck past Ott.
More from La Métropole Sports
Deschenes, Montreal’s first round pick from a year ago, has evolved into a very good player and has created many chances with her speed and skill.
“Boston is a good team, but for us I think we need to come out and think we’re just as good a team,” said Julie Chu. “A lot of how we play is mental so we want to get on our toes, we want to push, push, push because we have to match their effort, get pucks to the net and find those rebounds against goalies that are strong.”
The Stars now set their sights on the Clarkson Cup which gets underway Wednesday morning in Markham. They will play the Calgary Inferno in the best-of-three semi-final. We will have a full look at the Clarkson Cup tomorrow.